The athletic apparel market is skyrocketing. Chalk it up to workplaces coming around to casual wear or sportswear stepping up its game, but athleisure is proving to be an unstoppable force. Existing brands are creating newer, sportier lines, and new brands are bursting on the scene. In short, it’s never been a better time to be a gym rat.
To further justify the total domination of the fitness apparel trend, consider this: psychology is on your side. Studies show that when you invest in gym clothes you actually like, you’ll be more inclined to, you know, hit the gym.
And if you think athletic apparel is all about garish colors and big sporty logos, you’re in for a surprise. These days, there’s something for everyone. Whether you want clothes that stand out in a pack of Soul Cyclers or blend in with your usual all-neutrals daily workwear, here are some of the hottest fitness apparel brands you need to know about.
Parsons School of Design graduate Tyler Haney set out to create a lifestyle brand that emphasized a relaxed take on workout gear, and that vision comes through in Outdoor Voices’ aesthetic. The hazy colors and minimalist designs all come in a uniform marled fabric that oozes understated cool for both men and women.
Outdoor Voices is a fashion blog staple that has long been a standout for its notable departure from the intensely neon, hyper-branded aesthetic that has dominated sportswear for the past few decades. And its business is ramping up big time. The brand just secured $34 million in funding and is planning more stores even as you read this.
The Rock’s reign over popular culture doesn’t stop at the box office. Last year, Dwayne Johnson unveiled his collaboration with Under Armour, Project Rock. And as you might imagine, the partnership has been a massive hit. Johnson’s Delta lifting shoes are selling out fast, and customer reviews say the shoes are legit—breathable, comfortable and sturdy. The rest of the collection features Under Armour staples like leggings, tees and sweatshirts, all in a versatile grey, black and yellow palette.
Another elegance-oriented take on sportswear, Studio Grand is Cole Haan’s answer to athleisure craze. The line can be best described as apparel for the woman who seeks that off-duty ballerina vibe. Studio Grand draws its inspiration from the New York City Ballet, combining feminine energy with functional athleticism. Pieces include shoes and outerwear, plus a line of stylish gym bags. Essentially, it’s the basics you wear to brunch paired with a luxe oversized sweater, or the sleek sneakers you slip on to run errands before you hit the gym in style.
Human Performance Engineering (HPE)
Human Performance Engineering is an athletic brand made for people who like to optimize their bodies. The UK-based company makes stylish gear that they say “enhances” the wearer’s natural shape, so it may well be a confidence booster for those days when you enjoyed too many snacks before hitting the gym. HPE offers a subscription service that enables you to try the latest offerings and caters to both men and women. Keep in mind, this isn’t the place for those who love wild colors. HPE operates primarily in grey scale.
While hipster-friendly athleisure wear is dominated by women’s brands, this one is for the guys. Designed by Daniel Shapiro, a designer who cut his teeth at big mall brands like American Eagle and the Gap, Four Laps is more leisure than performance sportswear, offering a selection of vintage-inspired, primary-colored options that work just as well for hitting the track as they do on the weekend. This is jogging apparel that offers something a bit more exciting than more of the same black shorts and sweaty tee. Color blocked shorts come in varying lengths, while the tanks and tees (Smash and Dash, respectively) fight odor and wick moisture for guys who don’t look like the Rock.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the athleisure trend is that it’s finally ushered in a variety of sportswear suited for all body types and styles. Often, people bristle at wearing athletic gear that doesn’t feel like “them,” and it’s exciting to see brands like Outdoor Voices making clothes for the minimalist or HPE designing clothing aimed at making you look and feel your best while at the gym. And all signs show the athleisure trend isn’t going anywhere—so if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, there’s still plenty of time to hop onboard.