Do You Know Your Activewear From Your Athleisure?

Get the inside track on spring's biggest trend


Words by Nicole Thomsen
March 30th, 2017

When it comes to the latest batch of new season trends, no other reigns supreme more than athleisure. For SS17, designers zeroed in on sportswear, taking it from a mere street style undercurrent to full blown movement.

What started on the streets with the likes of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner wearing activewear as a fashion statement has now been transformed into an altogether more wearable yet stylish trend straight off the runway.

Fashion houses such as Alexander Wang and Vetements to Joseph and DKNY all championed the trend with a vast amount of collections offering up an athletic vibe without resorting to an outfit consisting entirely of activewear.

But what exactly is the point of difference between activewear and athleisure? Activewear is the umbrella term for apparel which is designed to be worn for sports and exercise. This consists of leggings, sports bras, trainers etc. To put it simply, they’re the clothes you hit the gym in. At least, they were. But now, with thanks to design-led athletic apparel labels such as lululemon, the idea of wearing yoga pants in a non-yoga setting has been popularised and taken to the streets. While activewear was once purely functional, the Canadian lifestyle-inspired brand designs fashionable exercisewear that’s worthy of both the gym and your local café.

Gigi Hadid
Olivia Palermo

While performancewear as everydaywear has become de rigueur for many, namely as a result of Gigi and co., for some, it’s neither suitable nor inviting. If you’re not sold on the idea of going the full hog with your activewear outside of the gym, then athleisure is a wearable take on this street style trend which borrows from the world of sports without looking like you’re game, set, match. Defined as “casual clothing meant to be worn both for exercising and for general use”, athleisure is a relatively new trend which blends athletic clothing such as sweatshirts, trainers and track pants with more tailored pieces like trench coats, high-waisted trousers and heels to create a balanced ensemble. It merges the sporty with the urban, resulting in a casual daywear look that’s both practical and stylish.

activewear-vs-athleisure-maven46-street-style-nyfw-aw17-frenchy-style-editphoto: © Paciullo
activewear-vs-athleisure-maven46-street-style-nyfw-aw17-frenchy-style3-editphoto: © Paciullo

Taking inspiration from the runway, this trend was a behemoth at the recent Autumn/Winter shows in New York and Paris. Savvy street style stars strutted their own version of the catwalk in activewear pieces (which they no doubt bought with zero intention of getting hot and sweaty in) seamlessly blended with straight leg jeans, stilettos, tailored coats and clutch bags.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of athleisure is how open to interpretation it is. It varies from the most subtle of influences such as a go-faster stripe down the side of a pair of jeans like these Mo & Co. pair to the more pronounced hoodie and track bottom combo. Whatever your style, you can adapt this trend to suit you and your lifestyle. Just make sure you know when it’s appropriate to wear your activewear and when the time calls for a more stylised athleisure rig out.

To celebrate all things activewear, Brown Thomas has welcomed lululemon to Ireland. The cult athletic apparel brand is available in an amazing new womenswear space on Level 2 of the Grafton Street store. The lululemon collection includes the latest innovative women’s apparel and accessories including bags, yoga mats and water bottles. Here you will also be able to find information and lifestyle guides including where to find the closest spin studio, trail run as well as in-store yoga classes with local instructors.

Shop the story below

In Partnership with Brown Thomas