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How Brands are Revolutionizing the Athleisure Trend in 2018

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Alyssa Misha

The athleisure trend seems like a look that will stick around in 2018 and beyond. Dubbed as “the new casual,” the trend brings the comfort of activewear to everyday outfits and non-athletic settings. In other words, what would have been a fashion faux pax decades ago is now the norm — accepted and encouraged, and even celebrated.

In truth, athleisure has already become a $44 billion (£33.2 billion) industry, according to research firm NPD Group’s 2017 report. Encompassing sneakers, outerwear, and even dress shirts and blazers, the athleisure trend has successfully gone global. In 2016, for instance, Britons spent a whopping £5.1 billion on athleisure products alone.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the heavy-hitters in athleisure are brands included in the 2017 list of ‘Top 10 Sports Brands in the World here on Textile Focus’. Leading the way, unsurprisingly, are Nike and Adidas, although it is interesting to note that Under Armour has largely stayed away from the athleisure trend. Perhaps not coincidentally, the company has now had four consecutive quarters of missed earnings. With this in mind, here are some brands revolutionizing this trend in 2018.

Nike

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Long a leader in athletic apparel, Nike has been able to ease its way into the world of athleisure with its impressive catalogue of stylish tracksuits, sweatpants, and similar clothing that utilise a variety of technologies (DriFit and AeroReact come to mind) to ensure maximum comfort. The company’s athleisure sneaker line has been just as impressive, with fashionable, high-performance trainers and cross-trainers among Nike’s more popular products.

For 2018, Nike is continuing to focus on the female demographic by manufacturing more chic yet comfy clothes and apparel for women. These items all make use of Nike’s innovative technologies and techniques to ensure that perfect blend of fashion and functionality. Aside from that, Nike is also strengthening its sneaker game with its Lunar Epic line, the Flex RN series, and the Air Max Kantara and Sequent collections.

Adidas

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For Adidas, athleisure is all about the shoes, with the company’s classic three-stripe Superstar and Tubular Shadow sneakers now all-time favourites. Adidas’ partnerships with well-known celebrities have paid off handsomely as well. The Kanye West-Adidas collaboration, in particular, paved the way for the ultra successfulYeezy line, whose releases continue to be some of the most sought after sneakers in the global market.

Going forward, Adidas is banking on another stylish artist in Pharrell Williams, who had already designed a well-received collection of sneakers and apparel for the sportswear giant. Last March, Williams and Adidas unveiled a new athleisure line, this time inspired by a springtime celebration of colour known as the Holi Festival. The Independent reports that the colourful collection includes five sneaker styles and four apparel options, plus a special Hu Holi beach towel.

In terms of apparel, Adidas is looking to build on the success of Adidas Athletics, which was created by the German sportswear company in 2016. Touted as a direct competitor to Nike’s successful premium Sportswear line, Adidas Athletics has been rolling out athleisure apparel that seamlessly combine style and performance.

The Others

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Other brands — notably Lululemon, Puma, and even Skechers — have followed the lead of industry leaders Nike and Adidas. Competition is therefore cutthroat, with each company trying to one-up everyone else. And with new technologies being introduced in such a rapid pace, expect these same brands to continue raising the bar by manufacturing better, more fashionable athleisure products.

Yes, the athleisure trend is here to stay, and it will continue to be popular as celebrities, businesspeople, and pretty much everyone else regularly wear sweatsuits, sweatpants, sneakers, and similar clothing in an assortment of non-athletic settings. To illustrate the vast influence of athleisure, consider that even artists known for their impeccable sense of style — like the fashion forward Cardi B, for instance — regularly don the athleisure look. Pretty Me points out that the chart-topping female rapper is actually taking the trend to a whole new level, with outfits that go beyond the yoga pants aesthetic. With her eye-catching and rebellious sweater dresses, crop tops, and puffer jackets, this stylish rapper is making athleisure even more fashionable, especially for women. Cardi B, of course, is not alone, as a lot of other celebrities are continuing to make athleisure en vogue to this day. Even the fictional Tony Stark (aka Robert Downey Jr.) infamously wore a boot-cut tracksuit in Avengers: Infinity War, even though the get-up didn’t exactly impress the style gurus at GQ. Then again, there are plenty of other styles to choose from, and most are certified head-turners.