Sportswear Outside of the Gym: a COVID Fad or Here to stay?

It’s tempting to see wearing sportswear for a range of casual activities – like shopping, sharing selfies on social media and even just relaxing at home – is very much a “make-do” situation brought on by a pandemic that has blurred the usual lines between the gym and outside it.

However, on closer scrutiny, it also looks like the pandemic might have simply intensified a fashion trend that had already taken effect years before the COVID era.

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It’s an especially crucial time for health and fitness

Naturally, the healthier and fitter you are, the better chance you will stand against the virus if you do catch it. That’s one obvious reason why, under lockdown, eating healthily and working out have evolved from simple entries on a to-do list and into deeply-ingrained lifestyle choices.

Perhaps you have recently invested in some gym equipment to use for at-home workouts or stacked up on organic food and vitamin tablets. Whatever you have done in your bid to boost your immunity to the virus, it might have included starting a proper exercise regime.

Why the athleisure trend is nothing new

In 2018, research revealed that almost half of British women saw their gym clothes as pieces of their everyday clothing, while two thirds were content with wearing them at a cafe or pub. That year, the Daily Mail reported that 59% of women said they chose garments due to their style and comfort rather than how resilient they will prove during workouts.

Back then, even the respected fashion publication Vogue had recently commented: “Be it on the school run, in the line for morning coffee, over a business lunch or even drinks, performance wear as everyday wear for women of all ages is becoming de rigueur.” The trend had been encouraged by celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner being seen out and about in gym gear.

However, has athleisure taken on a renewed relevance in 2020?

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Metro.Style has called sportswear “the new status symbol”, and wearing it in a non-sporty context part of a wider trend: “Being able to show off that perfectly baked, gluten-free loaf of bread or that newly put-together home gym is the new way to look and feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

Earlier this year, even Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was pictured on social media sporting sweatpants after having scorned them back in July 2019. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports the tracking firm Edited’s finding that sweatpants sales have, in 2020, seen year-on-year growth of 36%.

Tracksuits: surprisingly suitable corporate attire

Many employees working from home understandably wouldn’t want to be seen on Zoom calls wearing any other than the torso attire their jobs usually require. However, those same employees can still wear tracksuit bottoms without any of their co-workers knowing.

It’s a strong reason for many workers to invest in tracksuits for women and men alike – especially as it might not be too long before they can even wear the top half at work, too, should rules about work clothing become more relaxed due to the pandemic.


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