Elastic demand

The spandexification of high fashion is here, and it looks expensive

June 30, 2014
June 30, 2014

Gap CEO Glenn Murphy already declared athletic clothing “the new denim” in February—a bold statement from the man running a company founded on the basic appeal of blue jeans. Now that gym clothes have undeniably become street clothes, brands at both end of the price spectrum are cashing in on the stretchy appeal of “soft dressing.”

Murphy apparently coined that term, and it’s among our preferred forms of nomenclature for the category, worth $11.5 billion in the US alone in 2013. As activewear makes its way into everyday uniforms, prices run the gamut. Fast-fashion brands H&M and Uniqlo sell clothes for exercising in—or, at least, pretending to—as do high-end designers such as Lisa Marie Fernandez, who recently added leggings, bodysuits, and sports bras to her swimwear collection. (“Part sex kitten, part ballerina,” the designer told Style.com.) But much like designer denim before it, the once unthinkable $100 yoga pant is increasingly ubiquitous—even modest, compared to offerings like a pair of $380 Lucas Hugh leggings.

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Net-a-Porter launches Net-a-Sporter for athletic wear
Net-a-Porter

Now, hard-bodied, health-minded luxury shoppers will have a single source for a variety of such premium-priced workout wear. Next week Net-a-Porter, the London-based e-commerce site, which carries items such as Christian Louboutin python stilettos and hand-pleated Saint Laurent gowns, will expand upon its currently limited sporty selection of trainers, leggings, and cashmere hoodies with Net-a-Sporter: a sister site offering 37 brands of fashionable tennis dresses, wrap-front ballet tops, sleek fitness trackers, and $140 yoga mats—and, of course, the pants to go with them.

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