Stop fighting it: sweatpants have already won

Image: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
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The actor Eva Mendes stepped into a minefield this week when she told the entertainment outlet Extra, ”Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America: sweatpants.” Naturally, people reacted negatively to the offensive and ridiculous assertion that couples get divorced because women aren’t keeping it sexy enough at home.

Mendes has said she was joking. (It turns out neither she nor Extra is a leading authority on marriage and relationships in the US.) But she has since learned that we don’t joke about sweatpants—especially in the US. The numbers don’t lie.

eva mendes, sweatpants debate

The athletic—and athleisure—wear market is worth an estimated $264 billion worldwide. (No shoes included!) North Americans make up about one-third of that, having spent an estimated $84 billion on stretchy, soft, sport-inspired clothes in 2014—including sweatpants. Gap is betting its business on them. Net-a-Porter started a new site for them. Lululemon fan-girls buy them secondhand on eBay; and lots of designers sell versions for several hundred dollars. Would you bet against Beyoncé?

Even Mendes has some, we have learned. The actress came out in support of her favorite pair—cropped, charcoal grey, with a drawstring—and has now shifted the blame to Crocs.