If you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll see sneakers, if you look to the streets, you’ll see tracksuits. Clothes once reserved for gym-bunnies and athletes have become a way to dress that has nothing to with your agility in spin class. When did fashion get so… comfy?
This is not to say formal clothing has been shunned, I’m happy to report it is alive and well. Adopting the casual dressing trend doesn’t mean a permanent wardrobe overhaul – it means Off-White sneakers on a Tuesday and Louboutin brogues on a Wednesday. Athleisure, rather than denoting the end of formal attire, has become an addition to our wardrobes. We only have to look to celebrities and supermodels to see the dressing split-personality: there are as many pap shots of Bella Hadid in joggers as there are in itsy-bitsy outfits.
Social media can be problematic, but it has helped to highlight the multi-faceted nature of the human condition. As we continue to document our lives it becomes increasingly obvious that we are a lot of different people: we’re friends, colleagues, extroverts, introverts, cooks and cleaners all at the same time. We’re a walking contradiction. People don’t want to wear the same uniform every day because people don’t wake up feeling the same every day. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something luminous and eye-catching, others you want to hide in head-to-toe black. A more relaxed approach to fashion offers the opportunity for dressing to your mood, not just your surroundings - you no longer have to struggle through your day in a suit that constricts or power through a brunch in a skirt that you can’t wait to swap for pyjamas.
The question is - who says casual are clothes are any less smart than a suit if both are made well? The popularity of leisure wear has forced designers to give as much credence to the construction of their leisure clothes as their 7inch heels. Designers have observed the tectonic movements and approached their collections as such: this means leisure wear is no longer the overlooked and unloved cousin of high-end fashion. Where fashion and sportswear have been mutually exclusive, the lines have become blurred.
Sportswear brands such as Adidas have seized the moment; collaborating with experienced designers such as Yohji Yamamoto to give athleisure a makeover. Their collaboration “Y-3” is infused with the sensibilities of an award-winning and experienced designer (Yamamoto is 75 years old) but merged with fabrics usually associated with athletes. Together, with so many other brands and collaborations, they’re creating a new category in fashion.
The power of casual dressing is that it gives us the opportunity to change characters, like an actor and their costume. You don’t have to be the same person every day; no one is. It’s powerful because it is a people led trend: the fashion houses certainly can’t claim they started this movement. Whether our hunger for great casual clothes sticks or fades the conclusion is this; there is real power in dressing down.