What is Athleisure | SA1NT Layers Insight

Written by: Eddie Edyvean



Time to read 7 min

Athleisure is a fashion trend that's skyrocketed in recent years. It's what you get when you combine athletic wear with casual wear. Athleisure hits that sweet spot between clothes you can exercise with and outfits you can look good wearing, with a focus on comfort and versatility. Keep reading and we'll discuss how athleisure can freshen up your wardrobe.

Defining Athleisure and Its Key Characteristics

Athleisure refers to a style of clothing that combines elements of athletic clothing with casual or everyday clothes. The result is comfortable clothing that's suitable for both exercise and everyday activities.

Athleisure clothing includes things like hoodies, leggings and sneakers. Unlike other clothing styles, athleisure apparel emphasis comfort, minimalist design, a sporty aesthetic and versatility between situations.


While athleisure isn't a new phenomenon, it's become an increasingly popular mode of fashion in recent times. The modern yoga pants were introduced by Lululemon in 1998, which helped revolutionise the athleisure movement that we know today. The impact of COVID-19 also helped popularise the use of comfy athletic wear outside of the gym.

Benefits of Athleisure Beyond Fashion

The athleisure trend isn't just about fashion. There are several practical advantages including comfort, versatility and functionality. For example, you can go to the gym then go straight into that days errands without changing from your workout clothes.

The athleisure look is highly versatile and low-maintenance. It's an increasingly accepted look that can be worn socially or even to workplaces with relaxed dress codes.

Athleisure vs. Activewear: Key Distinctions

Athleisure and traditional activewear are similar, but there are some key differences. Activewear is designed with a more technical, performance-based focus. It can be tailored to a specific sport, and probably has specialised features like moisture-wicking fabric.

Athleisure wear is still made for exercise, but with more of an emphasis on fashion. It prioritises comfort, blurring the line between exercise apparel and fashion wear.

There are certain situations where you should favour one style over the other. Traditional activewear is best for particularly tough workouts, or if you're playing a specialised sport that requires certain apparel. Athleisure can be worn during low-intensity workouts or casual outings.

Crossover between Athleisure and Activewear

While athleisure and conventional athletic wear can be defined as two separate categories, they still share many similarities. Both are designed to prioritise comfort and flexibility, using fabrics like spandex, polyester and nylon for easy movement.

They're also both made for athletic performance enhancement. Yes, conventional athletic wear will often be superior in this regard, but athleisure clothes can still be made to boost your workout. Both types of clothes can also have features like moisture-wicking fabrics that remove sweat from your body.

Types of Athleisure Garments

Leggings: Leggings are a staple of athleisure. They're made from stretchy, moisture-wicking materials and can be paired with a variety of tops for a trendy and comfortable look.

Yoga Pants: Like leggings, yoga pants are made for comfort and flexibility. They usually feature a wide, elastic waistband and can be worn both for workouts and casually.

Sneakers: Sneakers made for both sports and casual wear are another pillar of the athleisure look. Brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma all make sneakers that fit the athleisure aesthetic.

Sweatshirts and Jackets: Comfortable jackets and sweatshirts can be paired with anything from leggings, jeans or joggers for a sporty but casual look.

Fabrics and Materials in Athleisure

Spandex/Lycra: These synthetic materials are known for their stretchiness and recovery. They're a snug fit while still providing a comfortable range of motion.

Polyester: Polyester is a durable and lightweight fabric that's often used in athleisure apparel. It's moisture-wicking, quick-drying and resistant to wrinkles.

Nylon: A strong and lightweight synthetic material that has excellent moisture-wicking properties. It's often blended with other fabrics to enhance durability and flexibility.

Athleisure needs to be comfortable, breathable and versatile, which is why it's usually made from one of the above materials.

Athleisure Wear in Daily Life: Where and How to Wear

Athleisure wear is great because it's so versatile, but you can't wear it everywhere. While it's fine to rock your athleisure in certain casual and formal settings, there's a limit to how far you can take things. Here are some appropriate settings:

  • Gym and workout sessions

  • Runnings errands/shopping

  • Casual outings

  • Travelling

  • Lounging at home

  • Outdoor activities

  • Workplaces with relaxed dress codes

Ultimately, it's your call whether your athleisure clothes will be appropriate in certain settings. There are so many types of activewear clothing that's it's hard to make a blanket statement regarding all of them. Use common sense when deciding if a sporty look will be appropriate in a given setting.

Styling Athletic Apparel for Comfort and Fashion

  • Mix and match your gym wear with casual or fashion-forward items. For example, pair leggings or joggers with a stylish sweater or jacket.

  • Try to experiment with layering to give your look some depth. Combine a sports bra or tank top with a loose or open-front cardigan, or layer a hoodie under a denim jacket.

  • Choose footwear that compliments the athleisure look. Sneakers are the classic choice, but you can still throw on some stylish boots, slip-on shoes or even fashionable sandals if they compliment your look.

  • Play around with colours and patterns to find what works for your style. Athleisure comes in plenty of different colours and styles, so feel free to incorporate bold or low-key colours depending on your preference.

  • Choose stylish athleisure brands that offer a balance of performance and fashion. Many brands offer gym clothes that are quite high-end, and look good both in the gym and on the street.

Current Trends in Athleisure

Athleisure is developing in many new and exciting ways. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for sustainably sourced materials and fabric, which is why some new athleisure apparel is being made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.

The athleisure scene has also seen a rise in clothing designed with more bold colours and prints. This includes neon colours like fluorescent pinks and electric blues, abstract patterns and even animal prints like leopard spots.

Athleisure in the Fashion Industry

Athleisure has made a splash in the broader fashion industry and will only continue to grow. In the coming years and months, expect to see athleisure wear that's work-ready, suitable for a night out and even athleisure dresses. There seems to be no limit to how high athleisure can go.

Adding Athleisure into Your Wardrobe

When shopping for some athleisure apparel to freshen up your wardrobe, start with the basics. Invest in the activewear staples like leggings, joggers, sports bras, and comfortable t-shirts that can be mixed and matched with other items.

While comfort is key when it comes to athletic clothing, focus on your fit as well. Well-fitting gym clothes can enhance your overall look, so keep an eye out for silhouettes that flatter your body shape.

Try mixing athleisure apparel with casual, everyday clothing for a balanced and stylish look. Remember that the right footwear can completely enhance your look, so grab some stylish sneakers, or even something like slip-on shoes or ankle boots that complement your look.


Athleisure is a growing trend that combines the comfort of gym wear with the presentability of everyday attire. It's a versatile and functional look that can be adapted to a number of different settings. If you've been waiting to jump on this trend, there's never been a better time to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key characteristics that distinguish athleisure from traditional clothing styles?

The key characteristics that distinguish athleisure from traditional clothing are an emphasis on comfort, versatility, a strong utilisation of performance fabrics, streetwear influence and a blurring between the lines of sportswear and fashion.

How has athleisure evolved and become a prominent fashion trend in recent years?

Athleisure has evolved and become a prominent fashion trend for a number of reasons. These include a cultural shift towards comfort and wellness, innovations in fabric technology, increased adaptation by the fashion industry, the influence of COVID-19 and multiple collaborations between athletic and high-fashion brands.

What types of clothing and fabrics are typically associated with athleisure wear?

The types of clothing typically associated with athleisure wear are leggings, yoga pants, sports bras, sneakers, hoodies and sweatshirts. Athleisure clothing is usually made from a comfortable, stretchy material like spandex, polyester and nylon.

In what situations and settings is it appropriate to wear athleisure outfits?

There are several situations and settings where it's appropriate to wear athleisure outfits. These include gym and workout sessions, running errands, casual outings, travelling, lounging at home, workplaces with relaxed dress codes and outdoor activities. Ultimately, you should use common sense to decide when and where athleisure wear is appropriate. It's become increasingly accepted to wear gym clothes in public, but there are still certain limitations.

What are the benefits of incorporating athleisure into your wardrobe, beyond just fashion considerations?

There are many benefits to incorporating athleisure wear into your wardrobe that go beyond fashion. Athleisure clothes are simple and low maintenance, very comfortable and highly versatile. They can also be a huge time saver if you need to rush to any plans before or after a gym session.