2017 has started off its 365-day reign as a force for change. Supersonic machinery is transforming the way we dry our hands and hair. New skincare treatments are eliminating needles and puncture-reliant processes in favor of facials with active ingredients. Then, of course, there is customization. If fluctuation could be a trend of its own, this is how it would materialize. So yes, this is an exciting year for fashion, beauty, and technology, specifically for products that involve all three.
This is what makes the athleisure influence such a driving force in contemporary style. Though clearly a fashion development, athleisure borrowed from the functional prowess of technology and the natural health and beauty movement. Combining these emerging aesthetics, it’s now “casualizing” traditional outfits like office suits and business skirts. What does this athleisure influence look like in full swing? That’s just the question big name companies are trying to find out.
ATHLEISURE MEANS NEW
This may seem a painfully obvious point, but it’s more complex than it seems. The struggle many brands have with athleisure influence is that they refuse to identify the trend as fully new. For a year, designers have tried to incorporate athleisure into formalwear by adding, substituting, and tacking athletic-inspired bits onto traditional outfits. It’s as if high-end designers can’t grasp that athleisure is not merely athletic-inspired clothing anymore. While the trend started out that way, it’s now expanded to represent a completely new fusion of athletic and formal styles. This complete transformation requires athleisure clothing lines that are much more than classic with an added zipper. Everything – build, style, color, texture – needs to be reconsidered.
IT MEANS COMFORTABLE
Ease and flexibility take time to create. This is how athleisure influence transcends its old “athletic-inspired” title and makes an aesthetic of its own. Build, more than any other element of design, can account for why the trend is growing so fast. It shows that tacking on athletic accessories doesn’t do the trick. To come up with a truly athleisure collection, designers need to go back to the drawing board and start fresh.
Many designers are playing with made-to-measure techniques that mold fitted suits and business skirts around the body rather than maintaining a stiff shape you must fit into. It’s a smart solution, the next logical step in customized business attire. Other companies are taking more fabric-focused approaches, experimenting with hybrid materials that combine the elasticity of gym clothes with deceptively refined patterns and hues. Whichever technique you choose, the goal is to find clothes that are sophisticated without sacrificing comfort. Why limit your productivity with a stuffy suit and tie?
IT MEANS BOLD
The most extreme voices of athleisure influence support a daily wardrobe free of neckties and business skirts. As corporate culture tends more towards freelancers and casual workspaces, there is a sense that stiff dress codes do more harm than good. So while in 2017 it is important to integrate athleisure into various formalwear collections, the idea may not last long. Soon the only occasion you need formal wear for will be weddings and funerals, and those are already moving in a more casual direction. What makes athleisure a bold trend isn’t complex designs with incredible artistic merit. It’s the complete opposite. By popularizing the importance of functional clothing, athleisure is making an often elitist industry simpler and more accessible.
Formal isn’t what it used to be. Athleisure influence is making that abundantly clear. After conquering casual wear and the semi-formal world, this trend has finally worked its way up to transforming the high-end elite. Time to “casualize” your wardrobe with some bold, new clothes designed to keep you comfortable. The future is just beginning.
— Timothy Vest