Athleisure refers to active wear that is also fashionable enough to wear out. This means that the apparel has to possess sports technical fabric and fashionable designs. Celebrities especially those in the West Coast of USA are seen around in it, like Kendall and Kylie Jenner or Gigi Hadid
In the past, before Lululemon took over the (yoga) world, active wear has been limited to Nike and Adidas (in Singapore context) – for those willing to pay, and just random old t-shirts and shorts for those out of budget. People used to treat clothes used for sports so shabbily in the last, using unwanted normal clothes.
In recent years, things are looking very different with more and more people buying active wear specifically and these cost even more than normal clothes.
Regarding the cost, I feel it is entirely justifiable – active wear is not made of common fabrics and a lot of R&D goes into producing fabric which can:
- Wick sweat
- Kill bacteria
- Remain odourless
- Stretch 4 ways without ripping or expanding
- Not pile up from excessive exposure to friction
- Maintain colours even after being drenched in sweat of varying pH levels
R&D also needs to be done to provide:
- Snug fitting for support – for sports bras support doesn’t mean a thick suffocating elastic. Support can happen comfortably if done right
- Just the right coverage
- Good cutting to flatter the body – active wear typically cannot be altered
There’s so much more to take into consideration compared to regular clothes, hence active wear should not come cheap. Those priced below or similar to normal clothing prices probably doesn’t have any of such properties and you should try to avoid.
In particular, Forever 21 is a very bad choice. When I started yoga and didn’t quite understand the requirements of good yoga clothing, I bought quite a few pieces from Forever 21 because they have trendy looking and cheap active wear – but their stuff is BAD. I have pants which ripped in the crotch and and the fabric will stink badly. Machine washing doesn’t seem to entirely wash off sweat and some will just remain and stink you up the next time you sweat in them. You also can’t do consecutive classes or go home without changing out after sweating this because by 30 minutes it starts to smell bad. Bad is an understatement. I’ve stop using all their products already and switched to Lululemon which served me so well. I can take 4 classes a day in Lululemon and smell as fresh as before. But there was once at yoga where I detected the same familiar stench in the room and it wasn’t long before I realised that the person next to me was wearing Forever 21. I shall make a conscious effort next time to see what the person next to me is wearing before choosing my mat.
There are also other fashion brands which produced an active wear line but I found those to be poor quality as well, having uncomfortable fabric or poor cutting. Examples are H&M, Americal Eagle and Aeropostale. It looks like fast fashion brands do not make good active wear since they probably just imported their stuff instead of researching their own technology.
Back to the point, good quality active wear does not come cheap. In the recent trend of athleisure wear, more and more fashionable looking brands have appeared. However, I tend to not trust these brands because they probably did not pump in as much R&D (or none at all?) in making the fabric. Yes they may look good, but I want to smell good and feel good too. There are many brands producing fancy prints for yoga shorts and sports bras (mostly targeted for Bikram yoga) but I do not consider those as Athleisure since they do not fulfill the first criteria of having technical fabric.
On the other hand, Nike, Adidas and other sporting brands (Puma, Reebok etc) uses technical fabric for their apparel (eg. Climalite for Adidas) but they not considered as athleisure because they do not fulfill the second criteria of having fashionable designs. Their designs looks too much like sporting clothes – think neon colours on a black base, exposed seams, huge logo placements, high support sports bras with no regards for femininity or fashion. Their stuff looks really tough and for yoga we don’t need any of that. Something softer would do better.
Examples of Adidas active wear
However, I would like to add that nowadays these sports brands do try to make their products a lot more fashionable before using cuter prints instead of tough looking ones, though the products still do look more sporty than athleisure brands because they retain classic sports bra’s cutting. Athleisure brands tends to steer away from the typical sporty look of sports wear and goes more adventurous with the straps and stuff, since athleisure wear isn’t meant to be used for high impact sports, but more for yoga.
6 athleisure brands in Singapore:
1. Lululemon Athletica
Mens & Womens
Photo from Lululemon, featuring Free to Be Wild Bra and Wunder Under Pants
This is the brand which started it all. This brand combines fantastic quality and fashion. I also love how they focus a lot on positive vibes and buying their products makes me happy. I also like how they are very involved in the yoga community. However, things are looking a little different now since the founder has left. I hope as much as possible of the original manifesto of the brand remains for as long as possible. Is it possible?
Anyway, their designs were probably the first to break out of that tough sporty look and appeals to women who wants something which looks cute and feminine yet provides the features of active wear. Their yoga pants (Wunder Under and High Times) are probably the best around. The design is plain and all they vary is the patterns and colours of the fabric. For yoga pants, just plain leggings without excessive seams or pockets is ideal, is Lululemon did it. Those exposed seams or colour blocking just makes pants look too sporty.
For those who do want a more sporty look, they do have products under the running series as well. The products here are more similar to sports brands but still a notch above when it comes to fashion-centric design.
- Lululemon ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn, #B1-11 ION Orchard, Singapore 238801
- Lululemon Takashimaya
391B Orchard Rd,#03-12B/13 Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238874
- Lululemon Duxton
79 Duxton Road, Singapore 089538
2. Pure Apparel
Origin: Hong Kong
Mens & Womens
Photo from Pure Apparel, featuring Ballerina Bra and Laced Up Leggings
This relatively new brand is owned by Pure Group from Hong Kong has been growing exponentially from a single boutique studio to so many studios all across Asia. Selling their apparel in all their yoga studios (which has around 80000 visitors everyday worldwide), Pure Apparel has been gaining love from many yoga practitioners in Singapore and this isn’t just limited to people from Pure Yoga. I’ve seen people wearing it at other studios as well.
The material isn’t as good as Lululemon’s (less comfortable, somewhat sheer for some pieces), and the designs and colours seems to appeal more to Hong Kong style (loud and striking), but it’s nice to have a new option around which designs their clothing with yoga in mind – meaning that design is kept feminine looking sans the tough sporty look.
- Pure Yoga Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road, Level 18 Tower A Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238873
- Pure Yoga Chevron House
30 Raffles Place, Level 4 Chevron House, Singapore 048622
3. Lorna Jane
Photo from Lorna Jane featuring Dalhia Sports Bra and Dahlia Core Ankle Biter
This brand is very big in Australia with many outlets across the country. They have made their way into Singapore officially just last year. While I haven’t gotten my hands on their products yet, I do like how trendy their designs are and I do spot people wearing it in class, looking great.
- TANGS at Tang Plaza
310 Orchard Road, Singapore 238864
- TANGS Vivocity
1 Harbourfront Walk, #01-187 & #02-189 Vivocity, Singapore 098585
- Fit And Fab
252 North Bridge Road, #03-24 Raffles City, Singapore 179103
4. Under Armour
Mens & Womens
Photo from Under Armour, featuring Women’s Studio Leggings
This is a brand from USA that only came to Singapore in recent years, but is gradually gaining popularity especially among men. It’s reputation has been more of a sports brand and many of their items are still not really designed for athleisure, looking really tough and gym like, but they do have certain stuff which looks simple enough to pass off as athleisure. The mens section in particular, has many item casual enough to be athleisure wear for men which looks very different from typical sports wear.
Coming from USA, a land where hunting wild animals is still considered a sport in current age, this brand actually still advocates hunting as a sport. Those who care about animals may wish to note this.
200 Victoria Street, #01-77 Bugis Junction, Singapore 188021
- Raffles Place
16 Collyer Quay,#01-03, Singapore 049318
277 Orchard Road, #B1-05 Orchard Gateway, Singapore 238858
10 Tampines Central 1, #02-22 Tampines One, Singapore 529536
5. Hip Width
Mens & Womens
Photo from Hipwidth, featuring Mally Tank and Callie Capri
The designs are kept minimalistic and plain and all they do is vary the colours. There aren’t many designs to choose from. It’s a bit too plain for me, but they would make good wardrobe staples. The fabric is of similar quality to Pure Apparels based on the items I have. Products are made in Australia, sweat shop free.
- HOM Yoga Raffles Place
3 Canton Street, #02-01, Singapore 049745
- HOM Yoga Orchard
181 Orchard Road, #06-12/13 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
Photo from Teeki, featuring Hot Pants
Their stuff are all made of recycled plastic bottles and I like this eco-friendly initiative. All products are made in USA. This material works well for wicking sweat and it doesn’t stink! It’s comfortable to wear for yoga as well with adequate stretch.
- Touch the Toes Flagship Store
31 Arab St Singapore 199730
- TTT @ Isetan Scotts, Level 2
350 Orchard Road, Singapore 238868
7. Cotton On Body
Photo from Cotton On, featuring Crochet Crop in Rose Sand
If you’re thinking that everything I’ve posted costs way too much, fret not! Cotton On Body is probably your most budget friendly option. By budget friendly, I mean like $10 sports bra kind of budget friendly. Of course the material isn’t the most luxurious around – the difference in stretch and texture is obvious. The stitching will not be impeccable too and the cut is not tailored to make your butt look better all the time. But $10, you don’t complain. They do have pretty fashionable items which seems more yoga friendly than H&M and other high street labels, so I guess this will be my choice if I have to select one low cost brand. The usual price for a bra in Singapore is $29.95, but if you catch their sales (which happens often), you can score deals for $10. Which is the only price I would pay since these are not the best quality and $30 for a neither here nor there item is too expensive.
- Various outlets islandwide
Other brands you can find online:
Disclaimer: These look trendy but I can’t vouch for the material because I’ve never tried them before.
However, I do find it annoying to see people wearing yoga clothes literally everywhere. Yes the yoga clothes looks good, but that’s only if you’re at yoga or grabbing something to eat after yoga when you aren’t changing out. I do not understand why people think it’s appropriate to wear yoga clothes everywhere they go and assume that it is acceptable. After all, it’s function is for yoga. It’s like even if your pajamas looks good, you wouldn’t wear it out for shopping would you? There’s clothes designed for every purpose in life and if you’re not working out then please don’t wear it.
While it is not a crime, the wearer should bear some mindfulness and set their own boundaries. Own boundaries meaning what the wearer assumes is appropriate. Like how we do not wear swimwear everywhere in public, even though its nothing shameful since we can wear it without judgement at the pool or beach. It’s just too bad that this is not the same in the city and too bad this applies to active wear too. You do not turn up at a non sporting event (example, a fashion event) wearing active wear even if it’s the latest design. If this goes on, people would be arguing that is it appropriate to wear yoga clothes to the office and the overall benchmark of dressing appropriately will soon die off. Of course you could wear it at home because that’s where there is no rules. You could be naked at home and nothing happens but you just wouldn’t do that in public. Same theory.