Athleisure: Decoding the Fashion Term


Athleisure is referred to as the fashion trend that is comfortable (Leisure) and athletic. Athleisure simply means the traditional gym wear or sportswear that is now designed with so much attention to aesthetics that it can be worn even outside the gym. Thus, making a fashion statement where comfort meets style.

When did the Athleisure trend emerge?

The common fabrics used in these clothing is Spandex, Lycra, or elastane. These synthetic fibers are known for their exceptional elasticity. Thus, although the athleisure trend started becoming more popular in the early 2000s. We can trace the origin way back to 1959.

During the year 1958 chemist Joseph Shivers at DuPont’s Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia invented the crucial athleisure component spandex that is widely used today along with the rest of the fabrics. The name “spandex” is an anagram of the word “expands”

Athleisure style happy woman stretching before running in nature
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The athleisure trend emerged in the early 2000s, soon after Lululemon founded in 1997. Lululemon Athletica is considered to have sparked this trend, but it didn’t stop there. Other early adopters of athleisure include Nike and American Apparel.

As a market, this trend continues to grow, replacing traditional activewear and even cutting into jeans sales. Companies such as Levi Strauss & Co. and Kate Spade & Company are rushing to release products to fit the market.

As a result of the comfortability of activewear, they came to be the popular choice for casual clothing. Athletic brands made further improvements in the production of outfits making them more lightweight, waterproof, and breathable.

Over the years, this trend moved from sportswear to the one-size-fits-all approach to athletic apparel that defines athleisure clothing today.

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