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trends & subculturesFriday, January 8, 2021

The Best Designer Activewear Brands For 2021

WORDS BY STEPHEN YU

 

As the post-holiday comedown after a fortnight of excess settles in, you may start to get flashbacks of pre-new year promises. Did you really say you were going to go running every day? Was the promise of thrice-weekly workout DVDs just a hallucination? Is it too early to quit ‘Veganuary’? 

 

But if you’re struggling to stick to your healthy 2021 habits, don’t give up yet. Science has proven that getting some new workout wear can give you the morale boost you need to stay on track. And — as if you needed a better excuse to buy more designer pieces — some of fashion’s favorite names lead the way in luxury activewear, too. So ditch your loveworn leggings and invest in some fashion activewear, with our guide to the best athleisure brands. After all, no one has ever felt bad working out in Gucci.

 

Shop this style: Rick Owens Sling Cutout Bra

 

The essential sports bra

 

A good quality bra can make or break a workout. Opt for a low-impact sports bra with less compression and underwiring — they’re more versatile and can be worn standalone for hot yoga or gym sessions, or layered under a top for a day out on the slopes or the track.  

Designer and gym enthusiast Rick Owens serves up this perfect example of everything we look for in a sports bra – featuring a sleeveless cut-out U-neck design (more comfortable than a racer back for less intense workouts), flatlock stitching to prevent chafing, and a thick underband that provides a supportive yet not restrictive fit. The stretch polyester fabric is dotted with added perforations for maximum breathability and moisture-wicking, without sacrificing on durability or flexibility. 

 

Shop this style: Reebok x Victoria Beckham Seamless Cropped Top

 

A dependable crop top

 

If you need a bit more coverage and support, a sports crop top is your gym bag’s best friend. Go full Sporty Spice via Posh Spice with this Reebok crop top produced in conjunction with Victoria Beckham. Her minimalist approach to modern sportswear has created one of the finest low-impact sports bras on the market. The seamless design is crafted from a sweat-wicking fabric so it feels just as good to wear as it looks, while the black and gold colorway is executed in a variety of ribbed textures with a jacquard knitted logo for maximum style. 

 

Shop this style: Sweaty Betty Super Sculpt Yoga Leggings

 

Squat proof leggings

 

Now that it’s totally acceptable to wear them out in public, a high-quality pair of leggings is more than just a sportswear staple: it’s an indispensable everyday essential. Our only demand when it comes to leggings? Make them squat-proof. The best leggings for squats are double-stitched at the seams to prevent tears and splits, with enough stretch in the material to avoid transparency. Yummy mummy favorite Sweaty Betty has delivered on exactly that, alongside a high compression and bum-sculpting fit that highlights and elongates your figure. 

 

Shop this style: Ernest Leoty Ilona V-Neck Performance Jumpsuit

 

‘Good karma’ yoga wear

 

Nothing ruins the most zen of yoga sessions more than a top that just won’t stop hiking up during downward-facing dog. Enter the all-in-one performance jumpsuit: part sports bra, part legging, this one-piece is your insurance against those wardrobe malfunctions that expose you during your fifth sun salutation. Ernest Leoty’s style is cut with a V-neck at the back and front to help cool you down during even the most intense hot yoga sessions, while also bringing the brand’s signature tailoring-meets-activewear aesthetic to the forefront. Best of all, it’s sustainable; ethically made in Europe using recycled and natural fabrics for added karma. Don’t worry, no need to ‘namaste’ us.

 

Shop this style: Fantabody Cut-Out One-Shoulder Kilou

 

If you’re swapping Bikram for Barry’s Bootcamp, you’ll need a good range of motion so you can squat, lunge and jump. This bodysuit features an asymmetrical cut-out to keep your core cool during the 100th set of mountain climbers, with a one-shoulder stretch fabric design to ensure everything stays supported and secure for the whole workout. It’s made by Italian activewear brand Fantabody, whose body positive manifesto means it’s also okay to wear if you’re already feeling yourself too. Plus, every piece is ethically made from recycled microfiber in Milan, so you can feel just as saintly as your friends doing Savasana.

 

Shop this style: Moon Boot Shearling Moon Boots 

 

The ‘overkill in the city’ snow boots

 

Whether your new year’s resolution consists of hitting that oh-so-elusive daily 10,000 step count, or if you’re just having trouble getting out of bed to kickstart your new gym habit, a good winter boot can be just what you need to achieve both. Forget Uggs; another retro classic has been making a comeback for the last few seasons –– the Moon Boot.

Modeled on the boots worn by Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11 landing, this nostalgic fashion icon has everything you need to take one small step for outside, or one giant leap for your waistline. What we especially like about this pair is that they swap technical nylons and synthetic felts for luxurious suede and shearling –– it’s chicer and looks better with anything that’s not luxury activewear. So warm and so comfy, these Moon Boots are the next best thing from taking your bed with you.

 

Shop this style: Girlfriend Collective Compressive High Rise Bike Shorts

 

The on-trend bike shorts

 

Whether you’re leading the peloton or wearing them with a sweater à la Princess Di, or with Yeezy’s like Kim K, cycling shorts have been one of the hottest activewear trends for a couple of seasons, and now with your newfound exercise regime there’s never been a better excuse to get involved.

Setting the standard that all cycling shorts should be judged by, these Girlfriend Collective bike shorts offer the inch-perfect thigh length for a more contemporary look, and come with a thick, high-rise waistband which helps support the core during those out-of-the saddle climbs. The smoke grey colorway and paneled construction screams out to be paired with a sweater and dad sneakers this summer too, so don’t quit the gym until at least then. 

 

Shop this style: PE Nation Panelled Sports Minidress

 

The Wimbledon-style sports dress

 

If you fancy yourself more of a Sharapova or a Williams twin than a regular gym goer, then you’re going to need the outfit to match. For sports like netball or hockey, nothing beats the unrestricted motion offered by a sports dress. 

This one from PE Nation looks just as good on-court as it does off-court. Cut as an A-line minidress, it’s thigh-length hem is flattering while remaining functional. The nylon fabric works in tandem with perforated detailing at the front and racerback and cut-out at the rear to keep you cool and comfortable in even the most demanding of tennis rallies. It’s techy and sporty, but its subtle mint green colorway and stripe detailing also make this one of the most fashion-forward pieces of activewear clothing out there.

 

Shop this style: MISBHV x Reebok AIO Logo Print Performance Swimsuit

 

A cold water swimsuit

 

If you’re one of the few people celebrating the cold start to 2021 as an avid wild swimmer or Wim Hof disciple, then we know you’re hard (and mad) enough to swap the warmth of a wetsuit for the sleekness of a swimsuit. We love this one from queens of clubwear MISBHV and Reebok –– inspired by the 1980s, it mixes shiny metallic fabric with dual logo branding on the chest. Even if cold waters are not your thing, this suit was made for banging out a couple lengths down your local lido or pool, or just doing your best Denise Richards impressions.

 

Shop this style: Adidas X Wales Bonner Slim-Fit Track Pants

 

Too good for just the gym track pants

 

Because the post-workout is just as important as the workout itself, don’t allow yourself to be seen grabbing a detox juice or slurping down a protein shake in a bad outfit. The perfect pair of track pants are just as at home inside or outside of the gym, making them ideal for covering up before and after workouts. Forget performance fabrics and technical detailing; these classic adidas three-stripe track pants are made from a cotton blend and are engineered with an inch-perfect slim fit by rising star of British fashion Grace Wales Bonner. They also feature stirrup detailing so they don’t hike up if you do choose to workout in them, but let’s be honest, these are far too good to go anywhere near a dirty changing room or meathead gym bros.

 

Shop this style: Alala Mesh Detail Court Shorts

 

A versatile pair of running shorts

 

If you’re serious about breaking PBs, then a proper pair of running shorts is essential. Time to put down those battered sweat shorts and invest in some luxury activewear designed for actually exercising in. The Court Shorts from Alala fit the bill –– they come with a pocket to keep extra tennis balls or essentials like keys and change in, an inner bike short to prevent chafing and a compression fit, and are constructed from a sporty mesh for a lightweight feel. These versatile short-shorts are guaranteed to get you from the couch to 5k, or at least taking your first steps.

Shop this style: Cordova Two-Tone Belted Ski-Jumpsuit

 

A fashionable ski suit

 

Are you the kind of person who spends days on the slopes counting down the hours until the après ski? Or perhaps you just like being the most extra person on your country walks? Then what you need is a ski-jumpsuit. Cordova is a name synonymous with luxury activewear for skiing –– the beefy signature oversized collar can be folded up or down to keep the wind out, while bell bottoms look just as good in the ski-lodge as they do over your boots. Never sacrificing functionality for fashion, the suit is made from a waterproof fabric and comes fully fleece-lined for extra comfort and warmth, so even the coldest of blizzards won’t eat into your party time.

 

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