A fashion for fitness

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Those of us prone to sifting through online fashion vendors will have noticed an unprecedented shift in the recent months; that is a shift to fitness. Retailers such as Missguided, H&M and Boohoo have established themselves as a source of sportswear. It is apparent though that this change is the result of more than simply an expansion in merchandise or a realisation of an omission in their previous inventory. High profile designer collaborations with high-street stores, such as Alexander Wang for H&M and Adidas by Stella McCartney featuring in Topshop, are indicative of fashion’s latest commodity; fitness.  Testament to the success of such ranges is the popularity of online fashion brands dedicated solely to sportswear such as Kate Hudson’s Fabletics and Lululemon advocating style and coordination in attire as well as exercise regime.

So what does this new snazzy athletic look consist of? It invariably involves a pair of leggings, sports bra and a tank top. With the exception of Alexander Wang’s collection that showcased minimalist – often monochrome – structured and chic designs, these new ranges are characterised by bright colours, co-ords and bold patterns.

A striking element of this diversification is the role of social media in its promotion and the stimulation of demand. So much so that we have witnessed the advent of a fitness lifestyle, rather than just a clothing trend. The emergence of ‘fitspiration’ on Instagram entails photos of ‘post workout abs’, ‘post workout smoothies’ and ‘post workout displays of activity and general life-togetherness’ appearing in abundance. Innumerable images accumulating tens of thousands of ‘likes’. Such displays exhibit the sportswear that was part and parcel of the exercise that is conveniently outlined in the description below, which serves as a run down of the workout and hashtags revealing the plethora of emotions experience #loving #pumped #glowing. It is no longer sufficient to workout; you have to look flawless doing it (and share it on social media).

Though the marriage of fashionable fitness and social media does not dwell solely in images; it has permeated Youtube too. Bloggers, who previously navigated solely within the remits of beauty and fashion, have bounded into the gym and bounded sporting their neon Nike Free running shoes. It is now March and it is evident such vitality can no longer be chalked up to January resolutions as ‘Deliciously Ella’, a recipe book showcasing delicious vegan and healthy food, dominating Amazon’s best selling book list. This fitness trend has outstripped the growth in fashionable sportswear, which now forms only part of a healthy lifestyle movement that shows no signs of waning. The movement has effused apparel, food brands, publications, social media and additionally restaurants, with vegan and healthy eateries becoming more renowned.

This development is not restricted to women’s workout gear, there is a discernable uniform in menswear that separates the committed from the working-on-that-Ibiza-body type. A string vest (no-sports bra), loose fitting shorts and the must have accessory in the form of a shaker bottle. Of late the once indispensible tracksuit has been rendered homeless, banging of the door of leisurewear in an attempt to find a place, ironic that the design intended for exercise seems almost insufficient to in meeting the demands of sportswear today. But what does this mean for the sporting novice, those who joined the gym in an attempt to get active without any intention of entering a lifestyle faction distinguished by its apparel? Whilst on the one hand this fashion can inspire, it also has the potential to intimidate.

Image: Flickr

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