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The Arrival of Athleisure: Five Companies Conquering the Trend of Technical Apparel

Athleisure is a rapidly growing trend in fashion—and for good reason. Apparel that works in the gym as well as social occasions and even office work is as practical as it gets.

Make no mistake: athleisure is much bigger than yoga pants now. It’s everything from socks to shirts to accessories, and there’s a wide array of options for both men and women. From anti-odor garments with mechanical stretch to basic cotton tees, these brands are innovating fashion and fitness at the same time.

STR/KE MVMNT

Strike Movement describes themselves as “the original movement brand.” Celebrating mobility, their slogan is #UnitedByMotion. Their mission is to design aesthetic vehicles for the pursuit of athletics and create a community that is healthy, productive, and inclusive.

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The brand is best known for its Chill Pill footwear, but also designs shorts, sweatshirts, and hoodies for men and women.  Their shoes range from $80 to $120, while apparel ranges from $35 for a tee to $100 for pants and hoodies. Their apparel is made in Canada, typically from a soft cotton-polyester blend.

Respect Your Universe

Respect Your Universe is a brand engineered for the training and performance of the multi-discipline athlete. Designed “without compromise, RYU exists to facilitate human performance.” RYU describes their apparel as “modern athletic style with technical edge,” selling garments with four-way mechanical stretch, odor control, and sweat-wicking properties. They sell bottoms ($60+) and tops ($35+), as well as outwear and accessories.

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“We aspire to be the most comfortable and technically advanced training gear for you to wear,” the company says. “Tough enough for your harshest workout [and] beautiful enough to fit your life beyond training.”

Strongbody Apparel

With its garments manufactured in Canada, Strongbody Apparel says that “we believe you can be profitable and still give back to your community.” The brand feeds a child in feed overtime a Strongbody product is purchased.

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Strongbody spent three years researching and developing fabrics; the result is a product that combines enhanced functionality of active wear with sophistication of fashion. Their innovative fabrics are suited with antibacterial nanotechnology—Chitosan, harnessed from crab and shrimp shells—that enables the garment to stay fresh over time, workout after workout, wash after wash.

They sell gym and leisure wear in a limited collection. A “Pulse Elite” tee runs for $70. They currently only sell mens’ apparel.

Lululemon

One cannot mention athleisure and neglect to mention its most iconic pioneer. Lululemon was founded in 1998, several years before most of its competitors existed, and founder Chip Wilson is widely considered to be the original creator of the athleisure trend.

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Today, Lululemon sells a vast array of garments for men and women, from technical apparel that fights stink and wicks moisture to casual cotton garments for everyday wear. There has been controversy surrounding the company’s quality control as it has scaled, and items are no longer manufactured locally, but Lululemon remains at the forefront of athleisure.

Alphalete Athletics

Alphalete Athletics is a newer brand that was launched by Christian Guzman, a YouTube fitness personality who also opened an industrial-style Alphalete Gym in his home state of Texas. They are among the more affordable athleisure brands, selling tops for as little as $30, but Guzman takes his fabrics and fits seriously.

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Currently the company does not sell much more than basic and performance tops for men and women, but Guzman is actively working on broadening the line, including launching a backpack soon.

Kit and Ace

Kit and Ace was founded by Shannon Wilson wife of Chip Wilson, her stepson JJ Wilson. Launched in 2014, Kit is a luxury-focused athleisure brand known for its machine-washable “technical cashmere” fabrics.

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Kit and Ace products are among the more expensive brands, selling most items for well over $100. They make polos, shirts, pants, and more for men and women. The company also publishes a regular digital magazine called The Brief.

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