While much of the fashion elite spent last week in New York City attending the fall 2015 designer collections (and doing their best not to freeze) the rest of the fashion and retail world was partying in Vegas.
Just kidding, we were attending Magic Market week, the fashion industry’s largest tradeshow. It hosted over 83,000 attendees, including buyers from small independent boutiques and large multi-store chains. This year, the tradeshow debuted MIND + BODY + SPIRIT, a whole section dedicated to yoga, activewear and athleisure apparel. Taking up 5,000 square feet of trade floor space and featuring 31 brands, the offering in this category increased 50 percent over last year.
The growth comes as no surprise; activewear is currently the fastest-growing fashion market, and has become more widely desirable for a number of reasons, including recent celebrity collaborations like Adidas x Kanye West and (soon) Beyoncé for Topshop. According to Chris Griffin, president of sourcing at WWDMAGIC, this trend shows no signs of slowing for a simple reason: comfort.
“Comfort can elongate a trend that otherwise would have been gone,” he explains. “We just reflect the market, and [activewear brands] are looking to create things that are fashionable that can extend throughout the day.” Magic aims to represent what real people wear in the real world (as opposed to runway fashion), meaning we can reasonably expect to see more athleisure options popping up in department stores and multi-brand boutiques come fall. Until then, here's our take on six athleisure brands that stood out from the rest.
If you went to college, chances are you already own items from Colosseum — the brand’s umbrella company Colosseum Athletic Corporation licenses branded gear to about 400 universities. The collection initially caught our eye with its strong outerwear, but its versatile layering pieces, like cross-body sweaters, slub-knit sweat pants and mesh tanks, fit seamlessly into any wardrobe. Women wearing the pieces for hardcore workouts (as oppose to hardcore brunching) will be happy to know that Colosseum uses a trademarked C-Dri technology to wick moisture away from the body.
Available at Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Scoop NYC, Beyond Yoga is known for comfort and softness. (Perhaps that’s why Gwyneth Paltrow collaborated with the brand on a capsule yoga collection for GOOP in early 2014.) Waistbands are elastic-free to prevent digging and roll-down, and flat lock seams give pants a smooth, polished finish. The brand utilizes space dye, a four-way stretch and quick-dry fabric that is quite possibly the softest we’ve ever felt. Beyond Yoga also has an on-trend leisurewear range including a quilted, contrast-sleeve bomber, sheer striped boyfriend sweater and modal harem pant.
Crane & Lion
Making its debut at Magic this year, Boston-based Crane & Lion has carved a comfortable niche in just over two years. Available at high-end hotel spas including The Fairmont Hawaii and the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, the brand is the antidote to today’s neon, print-crazy athletic styles. “That kind of stuff doesn’t go with an existing wardrobe,” explains Kaity Cimo, Director of Marketing. “We’re creating clean lines and on-trend color palettes.” The range includes Pima cotton basics done in smoky lavender and bleached-out blue, a convertible wrap sweater and a lightweight nylon moto jacket.
Easily the crunchiest brand on this list, Prana is the first apparel company in North America to offer Fair Trade USA-certified products and accessories. Launched in 1993 as a niche rock climbing and yoga brand, it has since expanded to include wool-blend jackets, denim and jersey dresses to become a 360-degree active lifestyle brand. Prana has five flagships, located in Boulder, Denver, San Francisco, Portland and Minneapolis, and is carried in 1,400 retailers worldwide including REI, The Sports Authority and Eastern Mountain Sports.
Based in Vancouver, the land of Lululemon, Karma’s differentiating factor is its dancewear roots. The brand is helmed by dancer-turned-designer Jacq Smith and features ballet warm-up gear — think blush-toned shrugs, charcoal capes and heather grey robe cardigans. Since being discovered last January by Holt Renfrew, Canada’s luxury department store, Karma has been picked up by Nordstrom, Pure Barre and Barre Method. Prices range from $48 for bras to $178 for specialty outerwear.
Fans of Flywheel spin classes may recognize Strut-This — the LA-based brand known for fashion-forward prints can be found at select locations. Launched by two mother-daughter duos in mid-2011, the company is a sexier, funkier alternative to Lululemon. Key pieces include navy snakeskin-printed leggings, a Givenchy-inspired floral zip-up jacket and a white mesh-paneled sports bra with some serious T by Alexander Wang vibes.