The History of and Take Over of Athleisure Wear

Denim was once known as the symbol for those that worked hard jobs, like construction, and became synonymous with the cowboy in the 1950s and 60s, but quickly moved to become a mainstream staple of fashion. One unexpected fashion trend has moved from the gym and yoga class to mainstream fashion taking the world by storm in the last few years. The athleisure takeover is well and truly here and the top choice for people all over the world.

Though the fashion world struggled during the pandemic, athletic and athleisure brands and clothing flourished more than ever. With most work and business meetings being at home in front of a notebook and laptop or PC, comfortable clothing such as loungewear has quickly become an inherent piece of a professional wardrobe.

It seems the whole world has warmly embraced the athleisure style, surrounded by comfortable clothing made to move with us. At this moment, many experts say that it is a multi-billion dollar industry and expected to keep growing over the years. Today, even those who strictly thought of themselves as die-hard romantics, Boho-chic, or glamour have finally taken up the athleisure movements and trends. But why?

What is Athleisure?

Athleisure merges two types of fashion styles, "Athletic" and "Leisure." Its basic form is taking clothing that was once meant for working out, running, yoga, or the gym and wearing them as everyday fashion--anything from leggings, sweatpants, sports bras, tank tops, and sneakers.

Where did it all begin?

One of the first official uses of the term athleisure was printed in an issue of Nation's Business in 1979. While that was the first time it was officially named, athleisure itself got its official start late in the 19th century, a transformative time for mainly two reasons. In 1892, the U.S Rubber company began producing shoes with rubber soles, with its primary target consumers being athletes. Adding rubber to the soles of shoes added a better grip thanks to the friction rubber created. Lawnsportsmen and tennis athletes were eager to employ this advantage. They thus began to be referred to as tennis shoes (the long-standing alternative sneaker allegedly refers to the fact that rubber-soled shoes didn't click or clomp on hard surfaces, which meant this allowed tennis-shoe wearers to sneak up on people.)

It was roughly around this time where rubber-soled shoes were invented that intramural sports began taking off at American Universities all around the country. That meant more young men and women playing tennis, golf, polo, and croquet, for example. Many of these young athletes, either from lacking the means or the inclination to do so—began to keep their athletic attire on for classes, which started the trend of wearing athletic clothes for everyday wear.

The first sport-designated coats were adopted by 19th century Europeans and Britons who were enjoying hunting or horseback riding. Young American students borrowed the style and added their own unique spin on this fashion by pairing this updated sport coat style with non-matching pants and playing outdoor sports.

What we call polo shirts today were once known as tennis shirts. In the 1920s, René Lacoste, a Grand-Slam champion tennis player, grew unsatisfied with the era's typical long-sleeved athletics garb and decided to make it better. Lacoste designed a short-sleeved cotton shirt that could be loosened by unbuttoning part-way down the front, with a starched collar and could be turned up for players to protect their necks from the sun. This new shirt design was a hit, and other companies and players began seeking the same sort of breathable shirt to wear.

Athleisure's beginnings started with the demand for more comfortable clothing, and since its beginning has remained synonymous with comfortable wear.

Why Athleisure is Still Popular

There has long been a subtle pushback against uncomfortable, stiff, and formal clothing. Before the pandemic, many offices still required business dress ranging from traditional to semi-formal with little room to maneuver for more comfortable options. During the rise of the coronavirus, many found their work landscapes changing to working from home, where leeway into what clothing could be worn was less strict.

With many meetings turning into video calls, workers that were limited to slacks or trousers turned to sweatpants or leggings, mixing athleisure with business-casual to remain comfortable at home while still at work. During this time, America's love for comfortable wear accelerated the trend toward wearing athleisure clothing all hours of the day. Many Americans used to have to keep up with multiple wardrobes—one for work, one for working out, and one for the weekend. Thanks to both the rise in popularity in athleisure wear, it's an innovative design to be ultra-comfortable, and new strides to create looks that are just as functional for the gym as it is for a day in the office, many of us are now celebrating having just one wardrobe to look after.

More and more, Americans and people around the globe are turning to functional athleisure that can be worn in any situation, understanding that comfort and stylish looks should and can go hand in hand.

When it comes to athleisure that can take you from a bold nighttime look to comfort in your home, look no further than our exclusive Move collection, showcasing our stunning zipper dress, long sleeve shirt, leggings (with pockets!), cozy rompers tanks, and more.