Every time you set foot in a gym, barre class or yoga studio, you’re greeted by a horrendous sight: Everyone is wearing the same thing. Lululemon has taken over.
Brands like Lorna Jane are trying to fight back, but the Canadian company Lululemon dominates the sweat sessions — and increasingly the street. Busy college women often pull on activewear when they need something that can go from class to the gym and everywhere in between. Madison Gottlieb, a senior at Texas Christian University, says athleisurewear is a part of her daily life because she needs comfort and versatility.
“I think it is important that brands provide consumers with a wide range of options to attract their target audience,” Gottlieb said. “It is also vital for alternative companies to stand apart from their competition to gain customer loyalty and brand recognition.”
But with limited style options at Lululemon, it can be hard to find something unique. Never fear; you don’t have to look hard to find brands that offer stylish alternatives. So forget about Wunder Under Crops and discover garments that better reflect your style.
Bright & Patterned
Those who enjoy having a wardrobe full of brightly colored or patterned pieces don’t have a lot of options at Lululemon. The brand has staked its claim on the color black and the garments are simple, without many patterns or bold colors. Amity Howey is a yoga instructor who is often frustrated by Lululemon’s limited selection in sizes and styles.
“I find that they sell out of the smaller sizes like 2 and 4 very quickly,” Howey said. “And if you like a style, they don’t have it for very long. And I would like more options in patterns and styles.”
According to the Terez website, the company was founded on the ideals of positivity, freedom of expression, and female empowerment. The brand’s designs embody the urban energy of New York City, and every month it releases an eclectic new pattern that has included everything from the NYC skyline to Japanese cherry blossoms.
Activewear retailers carry B//W because its garments are both high-quality and fun. The spring collection is based on a color palette of fuchsia, cobalt and teal-aqua, with pattern options that include polka dots, stripes, nature and scenery. Patterned leggings like these can be mixed and matched with colored tops to create a collection of vibrant outfits for the gym or class.
Exciting patterns aren’t the only quality people can look for when shopping for activewear. Designers like MICHI and Varley create garments with panels of mesh, adjustable straps and cutouts that give gymwear an edgy vibe.
MICHI is the original innovator of mesh inserts and multi-strap bras whose designs have been worn on the cover of Marie Claire, Self and Shape. Erin Cosgrove works for MICHI and says that the brand stands out because the company has pioneered such unique design concepts.
“They are very innovative with all of the mesh cutouts and, in comparison to other brands, our competitive advantage is that our clothes are more fashionable,” Cosgrove said. “They don’t look like just workout wear so people feel comfortable wearing them on the street.”
MICHI’s avant-garde bras (from $95 to $165) are statement pieces that provide women with maximum breathability and support during high-performance activities.
London natives Ben and Lara Mead wanted to combine the easygoing vibe of California with the elegance that is synonymous with London style. The result is Varley, a brand that creates comfortable, contemporary looks which feature accents like mesh panels and sculpting seams. Pair the Bicknell Marble Tight ($110) with the Terri White Crop ($60) to create a chic ensemble that is as comfortable as it is supportive.
Brands whose innovative designs make women feel empowered have pioneered the fusion between fitness and fashion. Other brands, like Koral and L’urv, are known for unconventional, imaginative pieces, versatile and sexy enough to make any fashionista feel ready for a sweat session.
Koral combines exotic Brazilian flair with L.A. sensibility to create sophisticated pieces that can transition between the gym and a night out. The Lucid Double Layer Top ($120) and the Vitic Moto Jacket ($250) are two trendy pieces that take athleisurewear to the next level.
In a perfect world, ladies could wear athleisurewear everywhere, every day, and nobody would say a thing about it. Sadly, that world doesn’t exist. Luckily, brands like Aday want to make dreams of wearing leggings and sports bras to happy hour a reality by adding zippers, hardware detailing and panels of leather-inspired material to their garments. Pair the Throw and Roll Leggings ($125) and Crash Cause Top ($75) for an effortlessly chic outfit.
If your style is preppy rather than motto, never fear because Kate Spade recently released a collection that combines the classic style of the brand with comfortable, versatile workout gear. Taylor Hintze, a sales associate at Kate Spade at NorthPark Center, says the line reflects the Kate Spade image well.
“Each line outside of the Kate Spade label is strategically designed to embody the Kate Spade brand and reflect the classic look that Kate Spade is known for,” Hintze said. “The new Kate Spade line brings yoga attire to a broader audience, more specifically the East Coast, preppy style.”
There are other options if these brands are too bold. Dozens of companies use advanced materials to produce high-quality garments that are not as bright or revealing, like the Australian brand Vie Active, which was founded with the goal of empowering women through workout clothing.
“Vie Active empowers women to feel stronger, more confident and happier through activewear,” said Jackie Felice, a Vie Active employee. “Our co-founder, Noa Ries, designs Vie Active pieces that can bring you from workout to work with ease.”
Garments in Vie Active’s collections vary from solid colors to minimal, delicate patterns that add interest to generic leggings but are not overpowering. Vimmia also adds detailing – like lace panels, color blocking or python patterns — to their designs to give basics, like black leggings, a subtle flair.
Gone are the days when Nike and Adidas offered the only options for gym attire. Today with so many brands and styles, you can find the look that’s right for you.
“I like that athletic wear has diversified. You can be comfortable and fashionable,” said SMU junior Betsy Emcke. “It used to be that you were wearing athletic wear or you weren’t. It wasn’t, ‘Do I like this?’ Now you can have your own style within athletic wear.”
Even better: You can wear your favorite gym clothes without worrying that you’ll match the girl on the next spin bike, yoga mat or seat in the lecture hall.