Gone are days of women pretending that their toned physiques were totally effortless. Talking about going to the gym used to be taboo, but these days I can’t scroll through my Instagram feed without spotting someone mid-workout or enjoying a post-sweat juice. Unsurprisingly, this lifestyle trend has worked its way into the fashion industry and opened up a new market for stylish sportswear. The two most ubiquitous brands, Nike and Adidas, seem to be in constant competition to gain the upper hand on this market by creating ties with industry leaders through collaborations and events.
The trend, which has been dubbed ‘athleisurewear’, is a logical progression of the ‘normcore’ craze of 2014. While normcore featured a resurgence of non-pretentious, suburban-mall-brands, athleisurewear focuses on workout apparel worn in a context that has nothing to do with an actual gym.
The origins of the trend are rooted in the universal conundrum of working-woman: not having enough time for anything, but insisting on doing everything. Realizing that they could cut down on time and baggage by wearing their workout clothes throughout the day, many women were instantly hooked. This concept quickly expanded as women realizing that they didn’t have to be hitting the gym to wear their favorite leggings or hoodie.
As athletic-inspired apparel began to infiltrate itself into the fashion crowd’s wardrobes, both Nike and Adidas took the opportunity to try and build upon their industry presence. While the end goal is to create profit, not necessarily create legitimate industry credibility that’s exactly what they’re doing as established houses embrace the movement (pun intended).
Both companies are famous for their successful partnerships with big industry names. Addias in particular has been collaborating with designers for years. Their long running collection with Stella McCartney recently reached their decade-long milestone, an anniversary they are commemorating with the release of a juniors sub-line. They have also famously united with Jeremy Scott, Comme Des Garcons, and Raf Simmons in the past. Their most recent headliners, however, show that they’re style-savvy and willing to take a risk with newer names such as designer Mary Katrantzou and Sacai’s Chitose Abe.
Nike has also been known to work with other brands to create one-off products. Previously they have worked with major stores like Liberty of London, J.Crew, and Supreme in addition to smaller names with cult followings, like Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci.
This past fall, Nike held a summit in New York to reveal plans to expand their womenswear division by 40% before 2017. One of the most notable unveilings of the summit was their campaign, which featured supermodel Karlie Kloss. Kloss, who has been known to post about her workout routine on various social media channels, was an unexpected choice for a brand as they normally feature professional athletes. This decision, in combination with the remarkable number of fashion media outlets that chose to cover the event, signifies their dedication to becoming a serious industry player.
While the idea of Nike or Adidas trying to break into the industry might not initially seem like the most obvious direction, one might consider the element of aspiration that is associated with working out. Ultimately we all work out for different reasons, but most of us share the common goal of exercising to look and feel good about ourselves.
That ambition is where the overlap exists. Does anyone really need a $10,000 dress? No, but we strive for it anyway because we know that it will heighten our confidence and make us feel better about ourselves. It may be a bit of a stretch, but one could argue that a similar high is achieved at the end of a brutal workout as is felt when handing over a credit card in exchange for a dress you’ve been drooling over for months.