WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
As the post-holiday comedown from a fortnight of excess settles in, you start to get flashbacks of pre-new year promises. Did I really say I was going to do a run streak? Was my promise of thrice weekly Jane Fonda workout DVDs just a hallucination? Is it too late to quit ‘Veganuary’? Sadly your commitments were real and are legally binding too, so you're gonna have to follow through.
But if you’re struggling to stick to your new exercise habit do not fret just yet. Science has proven that getting some new workout wear can give you just the morale boost you need to stay on track. And as if you never needed a better excuse to buy more designer clothing, who knew that some of your favourite names in fashion make up some of the best luxury activewear brands too. So ditch your threadbare high-street 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.
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.
Givenchy activewear proves itself to be one of the best workout brands by serving up this perfect example of everything we look for in a sports bra – sleeveless U-neck design (we find it a bit more comfortable than a racer back for less intense workouts), flatlock stitching to prevent chafing, and a nice thick waistband that provides a tight yet not restrictive fit. It’s also crafted from a polyester spandex blend for maximum breathability and moisture wicking without sacrificing on durability or flexibility.
A dependable crop top
Sometimes you need a bit more coverage and support as the intensity revs up, in these moments a sports crop top will be your best friend.
Go full sustainable activewear with this strap-back crop top from Nagnata. It’s crafted from organic cotton using a zero waste production process that eliminates yarn wastage, and is knitted with a double layer that offers increased breathability and freedom of movement. The retro colourway means it looks great worn with high-rise shorts, trousers or denim, taking you from studio-to-street in style.
For the more brand obsessed gym goer, this technical sportswear top from Burberry positions itself perfectly at the intersection of function and fashion activewear. We’ll be honest, a high necked sports top sounds like a one-way ticket to a sweaty neck, but with the très modern sans serif Burberry branded zip, this one can be opened up to minimise boob sweat, and when it looks this good we just can’t resist.
The best squat proof leggings
Now that it’s totally acceptable to wear them out in public, a good quality pair of leggings is more than just a sportswear staple, it’s an indispensable everyday essential too. 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, which can be a total bummer when you’re finishing your last set of bodyweight barbell squats. NO KA OI’s feature exactly that, alongside an attractive contrast stitch detailing that highlights and elongates your figure.
‘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. Adam Selman’s is cut with a double layered body to give a gentle lift and added support where it’s needed, while reflective branding on the back let’s everyone behind you in spin class know you’re wearing one of the best designer activewear brands. Best of all, this piece of sustainable activewear is crafted from 100% recycled nylon for added karma. Don’t worry, no need to ‘namaste’ us.
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, a modern hybrid boot is what you need, combining the rugged performance of a hiking boot, with the lightweight comfort of a sneaker.
Though ‘ Fendi activewear’ is not a phrase that first springs to mind when thinking of the perfect winter footwear, they do create of some of our favourite gym clothes and their T-Rex boot definitely ticks all the right boxes. Crafted from a rubberised leather that’s practically winter proof, and with a plush shearling lining, your feet won’t even notice the transition from under-the-duvet to the gym floor. With a lugged tread for added grip in even the most treacherous of conditions, you’ve got no excuses for not making it to the top of Ben Nevis, or more realistically, to that Sunday morning ‘legs, bums & tums’ class.
The cutting edge sustainable sneakers
If you’re serious about breaking PB’s then a proper pair of trainers is essential. Put down those battered Converse, your feet are begging you to invest in some footwear designed for actually exercising in.
Stella McCartney’s collaboration with one of the world’s best athletic wear brands - Adidas - represents not only the pinnacle of sustainable gym wear, but also high-performance athletic footwear too. Meet the Alphaedge 4D sneaker, its 4D printed soles form a lattice-like structure, and are engineered using data from collected from athletes so that they respond to the impact of your feet by converting the force into bursts of energy that aid in your movement. Not only this, the innovative and precise printing technology produces much less waste. Meanwhile, the comfortable primeknit uppers are knitted from recycled polyester, and they feel like you’re running in socks but with more stability and support. Too much for your once-a-week running habit? If they get you off the sofa to 5K, we think not.
The totally impractical luxury track jacket
Worn inside or outside of the gym, an oversized track jacket is ideal to cover up pre or post-workout, and this number by Versace is the most premium out there. Whilst you could opt for something from the more traditional activewear brands, this is one piece where performance fabrics and technical features aren’t 100% necessary. Even still, it’s crafted from a luxuriously soft and lightweight silk making it seriously breathable and highly absorbent. An invaluable gym bag essential for those summer months or most sweaty workouts. Who are we kidding though, we know you’re not buying this as gym wear, silk is far too delicate to be taken anywhere near a dirty changing room or meathead gym bros.
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, the PE Nation (another of our favourite women’s athletic wear brands) Benchwarmers offer the inch-perfect thigh length for a more contemporary look, and come with a nice thick high-rise waistband which helps support the core during those out-of-the saddle climbs. The colourful panelled 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.
The not-so-short skirt
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 too. For sports like netball or hockey, nothing beats the unrestricted motion offered by a sports skirt.
Bad bitch alert, this one from Nike is made to look like an old-school American Football jersey so you can channel your favourite 90’s hip-hop star. Cut to a skort length, they keep the flattering shape of a skirt but give the modesty of a short. Mesh fabric works in tandem with Nike Dri-Fit to keep you cool and comfortable in even the most demanding of tennis rallies. Trust the Swoosh to deliver one of the most practical yet fashion-forward pieces of activewear clothing out there.