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Athleisure has gone from ‘sorry I stink’ to acceptable work uniform in just a few years.

Athleisure will continue to rise according Technavio Global Report 2019-2023

Derived from the Latin term ‘can’t be athed’, athleisure has gone from ‘sorry I stink’ to acceptable work uniform in just a few years. And the trend looks set to continue with the athleisure category predicted to grow by US$126 billion globally by 2023.

The overlapping growth in wellness and technological leaps in fabrications have resulted in more of our wardrobe and wallets dedicated to the sporty but no longer stinky aesthetic. Even workplaces are encouraging employees to get more track and less suit after seeing a drop in sick leave with more active employees.

"Consumers can choose specific category specialists for specific purposes.”

While the usual players such as Nike, adidas and Lululemon have benefitted from the boom, there’s been a surge of both fashion brands and start-ups stepping-up to cater to the growing market. Filippa K, as with all things Swedish, were onto it early launching a ‘soft sport’ line back 2011. Although the label had a soft start here in Australia, it’s still relatively early days as consumers in some markets find their feet in terms of which brands suit which purpose.

Jane collaborator and strategist Mats Ekström of Kitsch & Kitsch says, “The ability to be category specific is the new luxury. Consumers can choose specific category specialists for specific purposes.” In other words, Nike for sweating it out in the gym but Filippa K and Bassike for lunchtime pilates classes (that might not happen but  at least you look the part).

Filippa K Soft Sport photographed by Tobias Lundkvist

One brand that has captured the attention of the growing athleisurely millennial market is Outdoor Voices. Launched in 2014 by Tyler Haney, OV have tapped into the idea that not everyone who is active wants to look like an athlete. A favourite of designers and creatives for their now ubiquitous minimal aesthetic, the brand’s vision of physical activity is clearly very different from those of more traditional performance based brands.

But where OV has really elevated above the masses is their ability to tread the line between activewear and legitimate fashion. OV designer Jean Touitou says, “We wanted to create product that functions in the same way as that of Nike and Lululemon, but more aesthetically aligned with what I wear day to day, like Acne and A.P.C.”.

Their ‘doing things’ mantra is designed for the new era of inclusivity and wellness. Rather than focusing on world-class athletes sweating it out and winning, OV has a more low-key approach featuring models on mini tramps, co-workers doing yoga at their desks, young guys caring for plants (yes, that’s a sport) and even out and about cleaning rubbish off the beach. To quote one of their headlines, ‘Let’s get recreational’.

Don’t mind if we do.

If you’re a brand seeking some leisurely advice, we’d love to hear from you. We can even have a meeting walking the block to get cakes if you like.