On those cold, early State College mornings sometimes you don’t want to put in the effort to wear jeans or a skirt. Sweatpants, although comfortable, are not an option either because you still want to look presentable. So, what do you do? Easy, you pull on a pair of leggings. Comfortable, stylish and a daily staple for college girls.
But when exactly did a pair of leggings you would once worn to work out become a viable option for casual street style? In fact, when did it even become popular to look good when working out? This is the rise of athleisure and Valley went on a mission to discover its roots.
In the last several years, women started spending money on fitness apparel with little intention to work out in them. This phenomenon correlates with the new and improved ideal body image of being an athletic, toned woman rather than the past 90’s ideal of simply appearing as skinny. Because of this, Nike, Under Armour, and other large companies face competition from newer brands like Lululemon and Athleta.
People are starting to understand the importance of healthy living and that concept is translating into the newest fashion trend. The workout clothes have become a fashion statement— tight and colorful is the way to go.
Consumers of athleisure plan to look just as put together in their workout clothes as they would in jeans and a sweater. Maybe it is simply because these clothes are aesthetically pleasing and functional, or maybe our generation just wants to be more comfortable. It’s also a possibility that some people genuinely like looking good when working out instead of rummaging through drawers to find old t-shirts. In fact, some people may feel more athletic by just wearing the clothes, even when, in reality, they aren’t working out.
“I do feel more fit when I wear workout clothes around. They make me feel good” says Maddie Heitzler, a freshman at Penn State. “And yeah, I’ll admit sometimes I’ll put them on, planning to work out, but then I never get the chance.”
Now that many athleisure brands have influenced other companies to create their own athletic-chic lines and are even expanding to men’s clothing as well, they appear to be quite unstoppable. As long as women continue to see the value in a single pair of —very versatile— black leggings, it seems like athleisure is here to stay.