Alice Kelly examines the decline of the athleisure trend, charting the return of some classic staples.
WITH Chanel’s space age inspired collection drawing fashion month to a metallic close, there appears to be one thing missing from the copious amounts of sequins, tailoring and flares of this season’s runways — not a spandex legging or two piece sweat suit in sight. With athleisure reaching a natural, and very suitable, peak at the 2016 Rio Olympics it was inevitable for it to plateau in the Spring 2017 collections, and it is now losing ground.
There could be no other fate for a trend that dominated the industry like leisurewear. From the revival of brands like Under Armour and Victoria’s Secret VSX, high fashion collaborations like Ricardo Tisci and Olivier Rousteing for NikeLab to celebrity collections such as Beyonce’s Ivy Park or Rita Ora for Adidas, the market became saturated, leaving no room for innovation.
“Fashion is becoming self-aware again, shifting away from sporty comfort towards tailored formality.”
Athleisure, like denim in the 90s, has become so normalised that it can no longer be considered a trend, and even attempts to incorporate it into new styles have become tired. (We’re looking at those heeled boots and velour tracksuits, Kim K.) Instead, luxury brands are straying away from athleisure in order to remain creative.
As a direct push against athleisure, Calvin Klein, Alexander Wang, Celine and Alexander McQueen all welcomed the return of the pantsuit. Even streetwear brands like Yeezy and Fenty x Puma have swapped sweatpants for jeans and plaid skirts.
Fashion is becoming self-aware again, shifting away from sporty comfort towards tailored formality; and perhaps this is necessary in order to stop the rise of the “€100 legging as pants” phenomenon. Even Laurent Potdevin, CEO of the overpriced athleisure empire Lulu Lemon, predicted to The Robin Report in August 2016 that the athletic wear trend would roll over.
The same report declared that fashion buyers were purchasing little growth for athleisure in Spring 2017, turning their attention towards the return of denim instead. The demise of athleisure has marked a change in footwear too, the Chanel sneaker was nowhere to be seen this year with Karl Lagerfeld, and many other designers, debuting riding boots and loafers as part of their rediscovered formality.
“Athleisure has left a Nike Roshe shaped dent on the fashion industry.”
However, like any great trend, athleisure has left a Nike Roshe shaped dent on the fashion industry. While classic trends, like the Oxford shirt, have returned to runways such as Self-Portrait and Claudia Li, it has been sloppily reinvented to strip away corporate connotations. Flats still reign supreme; flares and frays are keeping denim comfortable and even the tailoring in this season’s collections has been less stiff and heavy than ever before.
Athleisure may not necessarily ebb but, instead, evolve in order to combine comfort and wearability with innovation and style. Of course, we can all agree to allow for the occasional oversized hoodie and leggings day, but it would appear the fashion industry is calling us to invest in some high fashion gym bags to store our pantsuits in for when its time change out of leggings.