The Rise of Athleisure Bringing the worlds of style and sports together, Athleisure is one of the biggest trends influencing the fashion industry. Merging sport, urban and fashion cultures in a way that is stronger than its individual parts, athleisure is more than a trend: it is a whole lifestyle and attitude. Athleisure is indicative of a rise in comfort and lounge dressing, as items like leggings, hoodies and sneakers become more acceptable to wear out socially – they are no longer limited to indoor or fitnesswear alone. Similarly, we are seeing modern formalwear becoming increasingly relaxed with a casual feel, tied in with a more unisex dimension. What is interesting about this trend is the way the boundaries between aesthetics are blurred, with fashion giving sport credibility and sport giving fashion a functional twist. According to research by Morgan Stanley, the athleisure sector has seen a huge increase of 42% over the last seven years, and is now worth over $270bn (£194bn) globally – not only that, but athleisure is also predicted to grow another 30% by 2020, especially in Asia and the US. We can trace the birth of the athleisure trend back to the early Noughties, when Neil Barrett became one of the first high-end designers to team up with a sportswear brand. Made in collaboration with Puma, the 96 Hours collection dropped in 2003 in the form of a fashion-leisure line, designed with technical elements that made garments both functional and adaptable for any eventuality. Inspired by the fact that people were starting to want more out of their clothes, Barrett was motivated to make versatile pieces that would work with consumers’ busy lives, helping them make the transition from home-commute- work-meetings-drinks and so on. 2003 was also the same year that saw the birth of the Y-3 label (Yohji Yamamoto x Adidas), which shows at Paris Fashion Week each season, while the following year, the hugely popular Stella McCartney for Adidas range was launched. Today, athleisure-inspired collections are much more commonplace, partly fuelled by sportswear giants like Nike catching onto the trend and making athletic looks more fashionable. Directional colours, fabrications and slim-fit shapes have been introduced to Nike sports shoes, making them more acceptable to wear outside of the gym. Other key athleisure collections have included Puma by Rihanna, NikeLab x Sacai and Alexander Wang x H&M, while Adidas regularly collaborate with influential fashion designers like Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott and Mary Katrantzou. Recently, it was also revealed that Beyoncé is teaming up with high street brand Topshop on a brand new – and permanent – athleisure label, named Parkwood Topshop Athletic, which is set to hit stores this April. Beyoncé and Rihanna are two of the key influencers helping to push athleisure to a global audience – alongside a number of other celebrities and musicians, they have transformed the trend into an aspirational lifestyle statement. Famous faces like Rita Ora, Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner are frequently snapped wearing luxe track pants and fashion-forward sneakers, while rapper Kanye West’s athleisure brand Yeezy creates sell-out athleisure ranges with high-end price tags. The rise of athleisure has also had an impact on other sectors in the fashion industry – in particular, denim. Over the last few years, the demand for leggings has caused a dip in the denim market – conversely, the athleisure look coexists alongside denim, as it can be easily styled with denim pieces. Athleisure allows denim to be styled in exciting new ways, while fabrics like marl and jersey are increasing in popularity because they are being designed with denim-look effects. We have pinpointed Levi’s as being a key player in this development, as their Levi’s Commuter Denim range has given denim a new USP. The brand had to re-evaluate fabrications to fit in with athleisure’s focus on comfort and versatility – as a result, styles are lightweight and durable, proving ideal for people who like to jump on their bikes to work. Are you an Athleisure Brand or Designer? Set your Athleisure Collection in the right direction! Trendstop invites our readers to discover the full story on the future development of athleisure in our Spring/Summer 2017 Athleisure Print & Graphics Essential Forecast – The report covers all the must-have print directions for athleisure, yoga, fashionable leisure, sports-inspired or athletic market collection. Capture your target audience with the right print looks to help ensure the commercial success of your athleisure or fashionable sports range. The report comes with a video presentation taking you through key athleisure prints and key shapes for the S/S 2017 season. We are currently running a special promotion whereby you receive a free 30-minute consultancy session with our trend experts upon purchase of this report. Click here for details.