Remember back in the day, when fitness video pioneer – Jane Fonda – would do ‘the grapevine’ across your television screen, wearing a belted skimpy leotard, shiny tights and woven sweat bands? You were doing the grapevine right along with her in your living room, possibly in gray sweat pants and a tee shirt or perhaps, you rocked a leotard just like Jane?
The fitness apparel industry has come a long way; “athleisurewear” is now considered chic and boutique fitness studios are everywhere. This surge in popularity brings an exploding need for cool yet HOT, comfy apparel that can take busy fitness fans as well as fitness aspirants, from the studio, to the street, to dinner and in some cases, even to work.
Longtime sportswear brands such as Nike and Adidas, as well as relatively younger powerhouse Under Armour, were ready to get in on the athleisure trend. Gap, Old Navy and Victoria’s Secret have many offerings to suit your athleisure needs. Lesser known newbies such as Zara Terez, Vimmia and Koral are hot on their heels to create the coolest, hard-to-get pieces to spice up your workout wardrobe.
Seemingly overnight, workout apparel became the ‘little black dress’ of the new millennium. Dress it up or dress it down, the apparel available today can hold its own and is often merchandised with jewelry, hot handbags and trendy footwear.
According to the NPD Group, Inc market research company, Activewear sales increased by 16% in 2015 from the year before, while total overall apparel sales only increased 2% year-over-year. The market is saturated and the competition is intense. Activewear has clearly taken off and retailers are looking to cash in.
Since 2015, consumers have seen more emphasis on high-tech, performance fabrics. It is not uncommon to hear about ‘moisture-wicking’ (helps keep the sweat off you) and ‘compression’ (helps hold you in and stay high and tight). Along with the actual performance of the fabric, comes the variety of colors, prints and structured designs of the athletic wear available.
Check it out – you will see every color from hot pink to olive green. You can find prints that range from camouflage to skulls to flowers or stripes. No longer are the options simply Capri or ankle-length legging pants, now you can find mesh panels for breathability, high-waisted compression Capris designed to stay in place and half-legging – half-fabric à la leg warmers to keep you warm.
As someone who spends more time in NYC boutique fitness studios then she cares to admit, here are my “absolute, have-to-have workout essentials”, by activity type:
K-Deer Famous Legging $98.00
A high waistband “holds everything in” when you are in and out of the saddle, while the fabric keeps things light and you cool.
Koral Divine Bra $92.00
Racer back design gives you coverage and support.
Michi Anti-Gravity Bra $85.00
Does just what it says on the box and “keeps everything in place”.
Barre and Strength Training:
Koral Lustrous Legging $92.00
The fabric is moisture-wicking to keep you dry. The wet look of these shiny leggings is flattering to the figure. They are super comfortable whether you are en plié or doing some tricep push-ups.
Koral Dynamic Duo Capri $110.00
These amazing capris have slimming side mesh panels and shiny high performing fabric. The waistband on these is perfect to keep all of your parts in place for during your squats.
Koral Element Sports Bra $98.00
This bra has skinny straps and removable cups. Very comfortable, and stays in place. An absolute must-have for low impact workouts.
Shashi Star Cool Feet Socks $18.00
You need these in every color immediately. The sock is shaped to fit your foot like a glove and the grip helps you move without worry. The nude are my personal favorite, as they make my leg look longer.
Alo Yoga Airbrush Capri $68.00
Moisture-wicking fabric with a gorgeous design stay in place while you are doing your Downward Dog.
Onzie Circle Bra Top $48.00
Excellent coverage that stays put while you stretch with moderate support.
Onzie Mesh Moto Leggings $74.00
Mesh panels provide excellent breathability while the structure of the pant stays in place.
Vimmia Adagio 3/4 Pant $114.00
Paneled in design and structure, these pants stay put.
Vimmia Edge Bra $97.00
Lots of coverage and lots of support to keep everything in place.
Sweaty Betty Burn Up Run Top $145.00
Long sleeves and a hood to keep you dry and covered during long runs.
With so many options, you can create your own look to suit your needs and style. While the choices may seem endless, a good way to start your athleisurewear search is to begin by looking at what type of activities you will be engaging in. Once you make that decision, you can narrow down your options and find something that suits your body type and feels like a second skin while you work out, go out or chill out.
Please note: I am not compensated, nor do I work for, any of the brands above.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.
She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing.
Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com
In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.