How Athleisure Evolved Into The Post-Pandemic WFH Uniform

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The term “Athleisure” (or “Athleisure wear”) was first coined at the tail end of the 1970s, though it wasn’t until recent years that the word became a widely-recognized household term. As exercise grew in popularity, a host of clothing and sportswear brands stepped in to meet the increasing demand for fitness-friendly garments and gear, ultimately giving way to the Athleisure segment. Half-a-century-later and a myriad of factors have resulted in Athleisure quickly becoming one of the most popular and sought-after spaces in today’s clothing realm.

Obviously, the ongoing global pandemic played a significant role in Athleisure wear’s influx in popularity, though there are a number of equally important factors that have thrust the category into the forefront of mainstream consciousness, from the casualization of the workplace to society’s increased focus on health and fitness, to the technical innovations that have taken place behind the scenes and allowed for increasingly high-performance pieces of apparel. Below, we’ll be exploring the Athleisure wear product space and its evolution, as well as how and why it’s become the defacto work from home uniform in today’s remote work world.

Defining The Segment

What Exactly Is Athleisure Wear?

Before we proceed any further, it’s probably wise to quickly unpack exactly what it is that constitutes Athleisure. As the monicker suggests, this style of clothing is an amalgamation of modern activewear and leisure garments, though that barely begins to scratch the surface. Athleisure wear is largely defined by the use of high-performance synthetic materials and fabrics paired with modern takes on classic athletic cuts and silhouettes and supplemented via sportswear-style fastenings. This typically means employing the use of materials with antimicrobial and quick-dry and/or moisture-wicking properties that also boast performance stretch and other qualities that make them more conducive to athletic use without compromising on comfort.

By bestowing classic athletic and casual clothing staples with an array of contemporary materials, clothing manufacturers are also able to deliver garments that afford ample versatility—another defining characteristic of Athleisure wear. Though there are other minor distinguishing elements, the final trait that defines Athleisure clothing is its presentability. Athleisure is often designed with subtle variations on traditional pieces of apparel that make for sharper, and more refined fashion statements.

The Modern Work From Home Uniform

How COVID-19 Impacted The Athleisure wear Industry

With millennials already spending more of their time and money on exercise than previous generations, the activewear industry was primed for the work from home boom when the majority of industries went remote earlier this year. The aforementioned societal shift towards a more health-conscious population also had the side-effect of making activewear be viewed as more fashion-forward, with the segment slowly but surely beginning to influence other clothing styles. Over the course of a few years, this ultimately helped Athleisure to be seen as a more deliberately presentable and dignified wardrobe option, rather than someone who just came from the gym and hasn’t changed.

The simultaneous rise of the more laid-back workplace also ushered in a work environment that became more and more accepting of casual garments, very much including Athleisure wear. So, when March of 2020 rolled around and the global pandemic officially took hold, a decent chunk of the population abruptly transitioned to working from home. When days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, it became abundantly clear that there was (and still is) no immediate end to the pandemic in sight. In addition to setting up more permanent home offices and workspaces, the new work from home reality has also meant figuring out a new wardrobe. And when faced with this choice, more and more people have been turning to Athleisure wear.

Photo: lululemon

The Intersection Of Performance & Comfort

Why Athleisure Wear Lends Itself To Work From Home Use

While Athleisure wear is undeniably experiencing a trend, it’s popularity for work from home use is much more owed to the merits of this versatile clothing rather than sheer hype. Advanced material constructions make for incredibly comfortable yet high-performance garments and revised takes on clothing classics deliver more refined and presentable items, offering the best of both worlds in terms of ample versatility and all-day comfort, while still looking plenty presentable when taking a Zoom call or appearing in front of co-workers or your employer(s).

Antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, and abrasion-resistant properties also allow these same Athleisure wear garments to be just as conducive to use at the gym or on the court as they are on the couch or in front of the kitchen table at home. This area is furthered by the use of sportswear fastenings and other technical details such as athletic liners or zippered pockets. The overall range Athleisure wear offers also happens to give the clothing more value and bang for its buck, while the increased durability of these items also affords them ample longevity and helps to ensure season after season of use. Put simply, Athleisure wear really does tick just about every box one could hope for when shopping for a new work from home wardrobe.

Work From Home Wardrobe

Three Ideal Remote Work Garments

With a solid understanding of what defines the Athleisure wear segment and how it’s evolved in recent times, let’s move on to some of today’s best options for piecing together a new work from home uniform.

Textured Tech Short

A thoroughly contemporary interpretation of classic gym shorts, lululemon’s Textured Tech Short boast a streamlined 7” cut with a tapered fit around the glutes and thighs, and a polyester and Lycra waistband with a drawcord that can be worn on the inside or outside. When paired with a gusset placement that allows for an unrestricted range of movement, and the short’s advanced quick-drying, moisture-wicking, abrasion-resistant elastane, nylon, and recycled polyester mesh fabric blend, these shorts lend themselves incredibly well to both athletic applications and use around the house. A zippered pocket made entirely from recycled polyester also provides a secure means of carrying keys, smartphones, and other small valuables.

Purchase: $88

Textured Tech Pant

While all Athleisure wear is largely characterized by its ample versatility and performance, the lululemon Textured Tech Pant takes the clothing’s already immense range to new heights, bestowing a classic set of joggers with cutting-edge textured nylon, recycled poly, elastane blend that’s soft to the touch, while still featuring sweat-wicking and quick-drying properties and being resistant to abrasions. Outfitted with a 29” length, the Textured Tech Pant’s gusset placement, tapering around the knee and hem, and streamlined fitment around the thighs allows the item to excel in workout, training, and cooldown applications, while the textured material and dark color options make for a markedly more presentable option than your typical pair of joggers.

Purchase: $128

Textured Tech Hoodie

Arguably one of the finest work-from-home garments currently on the market, the Textured Tech Hoodie is a more modern and refined version of the timeless hooded sweatshirt. With sleeve articulation that doesn’t compromise the wearer’s range of movement, a secure zippered pocket, and an abrasion-resistant, moisture-wicking, quick-drying four-way stretch fabric construction that’s been permanently treated with lululemon’s No-Stink Zinc™ antimicrobial treatment, the Textured Tech Hoodie lends itself wonderfully to athletic use. Meanwhile, the textured fabric, shawl collar, and bonded eyelets collectively make for a more elegant and refined alternative to 99% of existing hoodies. The entirety of the polyester used in the making of this product is also 100% recycled.

Purchase: $148

How To Stay Productive When Working From Home

Interested in further stepping up your remote work game? Then be sure to check out our guide on how to stay productive when working from home for tips on increasing productivity when working remotely.