When Did the Athleisure Trend Start?

It may appear that athleisure is new, but it is not. Athleisure definitely is more widespread than ever, but it has been around for quite a while. Now, many celebrities and influencers are spotted out and about rocking a track suit or yoga pants and pullover. 

Because of that, a lot of younger people may think that it is a brand-new fashion statement. In reality, people have been wearing athleisure for quite some time. But when did the athleisure trend start? Let us take a closer look at its history.

Look No Further Than Sports History

Organized sports did not come into fruition until the late 1800s. When they did, an entire new style of clothes was developed for athletes. The concept behind these uniforms was that they would fit well and be conducive to physical activity.  It didn’t hurt that they were comfy as well.

As time went on, people began wearing these clothes outside of the context of sports. Look at tennis shoes. Those rubber-soled staples of athleisure were first solely functional. They were created specifically for tennis players.

Tennis is responsible for more than just shoes. Polo shirts, arguably one of the most common athleisure items, also came from tennis. As with any invention, people took these innovations and ran with them. Almost everyone has tennis shoes or at least one polo in their closet.

When Did It Become What it is Now?

Over time, sportswear evolved. It may have started in the late 1800s, but it really ramped up in the 1930s. Synthetic fabrics such as nylon changed the fit, style and practicality of sports clothing. So many new fabrics have come out since then, and many of them are responsible for the current trends in athleisure.

Synthetics allow for flexibility, comfort, high performance and style. Not all synthetics are created equal, and oftentimes a nice mixture makes for the best athleisure. Since nylon was created, people have been working to make athleisure what it is today.

Why is it As Popular As it is?

There are several reasons why it is so popular. For one thing, people are so busy these days. Everyone seems to be on the go. If you choose your athleisure carefully, you may be able to wear the same outfit to work as you would to your son’s piano recital.

It is easy to throw on and allows for freedom. One of the main appeals of athleisure is that it is as functional as it is stylish. Some athleisure goes way over the top adding sequins and flares that are not necessary. That may be stylish, but that is far from functional.

Athleisure that is here to stay, like yoga pants, polos, basketball shorts and zip hoodies serve many purposes. Not only that, they are appropriate in many situations. 

Endless Possibilities

The ways that you can pair pieces of athleisure can go on forever. You could throw on sweatpants and a regular, non-athletic tee shirt and look great. Similarly, you could wear an athletic quarter zip pullover and pair it with khaki pants and look downright classy.

You don’t need to limit yourself with your athleisure options. The beauty of athleisure is that it is simple, comfortable, functional and stylish. Because of that, you can pair it with so many different things in your closet. Don’t force yourself to strictly wear only athleisure.

Consider throwing your athleisure together with your regular clothes and see what kind of look you can come up with. As long as you are comfortable and are able to perform in your athleisure clothes, you made the right choice.


Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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