“Athleisure” has become a popular trend over the past few years amongst athletes and non-athletes
During basketball season, junior Kate Yager wears a practice jersey and heads to the gym for practice after school. But instead of Hockaday’s Nike athletic shorts, she wears her Lululemon black running shorts. And, on a typical free dress day, Yager wears her most comfortable clothes: Lululemon.
“I like Lululemon because it’s comfortable and lasts for a long time,” Yager said.
She is not alone. Over the past few years, many people have been wearing Lululemon and other fitness brands for non-athletic purposes. Yager owns a lot of “Lulu,” including headbands, leggings, yoga pants and jackets for her day-to-day purposes.
According to a survey conducted by an investment banking company, Piper Jaffray, this type of clothing is most preferred amongst upper-class teenage girls. The survey found that 16 percent of teen girls from upper-income households preferred “fashion athletic” clothing rather than denim.
Casual fitness clothing, otherwise known as “athleisure,” was a trend that started last year and appeals to the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, according to The G Brief. Although not exactly defined, this generation includes people born approximately between 1980 to 1996, who are generally more health conscious than previous generations.
According to a recent report by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, 27 percent of this generation belonged to a fitness club in 2013, which is a higher percentage than any other generation.
A few brands not necessarily known for athletic clothing have been taking advantage of this trend and are introducing athleisure to their labels.
The hip-clothing store Urban Outfitters released Without Walls last spring. This line sells performance clothing, featuring patterned leggings and graphic tees. The line also includes clothing from well-known active brands, like Columbia and Patagonia.
Piper Jaffray analyst Neely Tamminga anticipated a turnaround in Urban’s profits last year. Tamminga believed that this brand would appeal to the hip, outdoorsy person who appreciates stylish clothing.
And indeed it did. In March of 2014, a few weeks after the clothing line came to stores, Urban Outfitters reported record high net income, with a 24 percent increase of net sales for the year of 2014.
Athleta, a store for women athletes, also offers a casual sporting line. Nancy Green, president and general manager of Athleta, hopes that Athleta will target busy women and working moms, who are running errands throughout the day.
“We are not just selling activewear, we are selling lifestyle products for a woman who is very fitness-oriented,” Green said.
However, some athletes, including junior Alexandra Randolph, do not enjoy wearing fitness clothing outside of their sport or other physical activity.
Randolph, an ice dancer, often wears Lululemon leggings and tanks to her ice dancing lessons. However, she does not like wearing them outside of her sport because she believes, “Lulu is intended to be worn as activewear.”
“I don’t like wearing [Lululemon] out on the street if I’m not moving around,” Randolph said.
Regardless, casual fitness clothing has replaced denim as the go-to item for heading out. Yager said, “I think Lulu and other athletic brands are very good for athletics as they are very durable, which is probably part of the reason why they’re so successful.”
– Noor Adatia