7 Trends That Are Redefining Active Wear And Your Workout
Long gone are the days of shapeless baggy cotton t-s and shorts. Today’s athlete demands it all. A perfect fit, fashion forward style, comfortable and sustainable fabrics, and above all, performance enhancing technologies.
The nearly $30 billion sports apparel industry has us swimming in endless options. Spandex, or Lycra? Moisture wicking and flat seams? I just want a flattering yoga pant!! Whether you’re an Olympic hopeful or a workout newbie you’ll need to navigate the racks of “sweat couture.” Here’s your guide to the 7 top fitness wear trends and how they’ll aide you in creating your most epic self.
Compression: Compression garments are basically tight-fitting clothing that conform to the bodies shape. A concept utilized in the medical community for hundreds of years, compression has blossomed into a performance enhancing technology. Study after study has shown that donning compression apparel increases blood circulation by a whopping 30%. Known primarily as Under Armor, these garments are built specifically to optimize muscle power and stamina, reduce fatigue, enhance proprioception and speed up recovery. Not only do these wonder threads act as a second set of muscles, but they are engineered to transport moisture and effectively regulate body temperature!
I know you ladies out there have heard of Spanx leg and shapewear… a perfect example of how compression has filtered into everyday undergarments. And remember those Fastskin swimsuits worn by the infamous Micheal Phelps in Bejing? Though not the most practical for us gym goers, that’s compression at it’s finest. Fantastic!
What to look for: Keep your eyes peeled for form-fitting and anatomically shaped garments. For example, legging or tights should have the shape of a leg and not just be a tube like pantyhose. Check the label for the level of pressure measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Anything over 12 mm Hg will give the leg more energy. Anything under 10 won’t make a difference.
Quite the buzz word now days, moisture wicking simply means the fabric fibers move moisture away from the body. The fabric is practically mesh in it’s structure allowing sweat to evaporate. In an industry where cotton once ruled all, synthetics have transformed the industry because of their hydrophobic nature. Sweat doesn’t penetrate the yarn. With cotton, moisture soaks into the fabric creating a wet and heavy environment on the skin. Staying cool and dry will keep you going longer and harder!
What to look for: Dig for the label and make sure the fabric is either a cotton/synthetic blend, or purely synthetic. Spandex, Lycra, and Nylon are all great examples. The blends tend to be softer with that coveted luxurious feel.
Antimicrobial: You guessed it… clothing that touts it’s antimicrobial technology prevents or inhibits the growth of bacteria, ultimately minimizing odor. There’s nothing worse then smelling sweaty gym clothes that have started to grow their own ecosystems! Most active wear fabrics, synthetic or cotton have some level of antimicrobial protection.
The real advances are in sports protective gear like plastic mouth guards, and chest and pelvic protectors. A growing number of locker room health threats like staph infections have taken antimicrobial technology to the forefront. Silver, for example, is the only mineral on earth that bacteria doesn’t have much defense against. Which is exactly why the metal has been incorporated into thread and nanotechnology for clothing. More specifically socks, and undergarments.
What to look for: SmartSilver is a product to scope out. It’s currently used in high end luxury cotton lines of underwear, undershirts and socks. In terms of other outstanding products, WIN High Performance Sport Detergent is the official licensed product of the U.S olympic team and will work wonders at getting rid of embedded sweat and odors. Now you won’t have to toss a well loved jersey… it’s all about finding the right soap!
Eco-Conscious: With the green revolution in high gear fitness apparel companies find themselves scrambling to keep up with the demand for sustainable options. Spending a little extra on fabrics like wool, bamboo and coconut is common place in the eco-minded younger generations. Companies are infusing fabrics with naturals like coconut shells, soy and aloe to keep you dry, comfortable and even fresh smelling.
Coconut suppresses odor and dries super quick, while bamboo, aloe and soy keep fabrics soft and able to drape well. The fact that bamboo and soy grow quickly and don’t need nearly as much water as cotton, makes them less harsh on the earth to grow and sustain. Buyers not only interested in cotton alternatives, but organically grown options. Organically dyed, finished and printed are in high demand.
What to look for: Clothing made of any of the above raw materials…coconut, bamboo, soy, and organics. Weigh your options and decide what’s really best for the environment…an organic shirt flown in from China or a locally produced bamboo top?
Perfect Fit: Companies like Lucy and Lululemon Athletica have nailed this trend to the T. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and those that can make any physique look flawless are the front runners. Just like the jean department, workout pants now come in every cut imaginable. Beyond styles like boot cut and low rise, length and fabric are equally as important. Designers are getting creative with tops as well. Providing silhouettes that flatter and support every bust and torso.
What to look for: Decide what you type of demands you’ll be inflicting on your active wear as a jumping off point. Need top notch performance? Go for the tight and slimming, yet hardy pant. Want to relax in yoga class? Opt for a loose fitting pant with a fold-over or drawstring waist. The perfect fit has to not only look amazing, but perform on point. So find the dressing rooms because trying on is key.
Lifestyle Integration: Today’s fast paced world has many of us dashing to the gym before the office or in between work and happy hour(!). Tight schedules means people want double duty garments that easily flow from their sweat session into everyday life. Working moms, for example, want to do everything in one outfit and still look great.
What to look for: Zippers, and pockets are the key details here. Look for pants that can easily transform into shorts, or jackets with sleeves that can be removed when the sun comes out. Designers are also trying to make life a little easier by inserting small pockets just about everywhere. Store that loose key while on a run, or velcro your iPod securely in place. There’s nothing like wearing stylish yoga pants all day. Talk about a constant reminder to keep your booty active!
Fashion Forward: Forget the all black and step into the world of color, patterns and cuts. Yes people want to look and feel good when working out, but they also want to be unique and stylish. While black bottoms are still a staple in most gym goers closet, bright colors and funky designs are sneaking their way in. Graphics, animal prints, and neutrals are all huge at the moment. Fashionistas will also do without the pinching elastic found in older styles. Flat fold over waists that flatten the tummy and rounded seams that shape beautiful curves top the list. Coverage is critical as well. Shirts that are too short or pants that are too low will have us all running for the hills.
What to look for: Tops with longer torso’s that flatter all sizes by elongating the waist. Wide and flat waistbands that don’t dig in. Just like in your everyday wear, create your own style. Find hues that go well with your skin tone and shapes that work for you in all the right places. Companies like Adidas, Lucy, Lululemon, and Danskin are on the cutting edge when it comes to innovative cuts, fabrics and shapes. by Amber