Yoga pants, built-in sports bra tank tops, and outfit-matching athletic sneakers, have taken over the women’s fashion industry in an astronomical way, despite an obesity epidemic and stagnant gym memberships. If women aren’t buying bundles of sports clothes to wear at the gym, where are they wearing them? The answer is everywhere.
The new clothing craze phenomenon is being called “athleisure,” reflecting Americans’ ability to continue their couch potato ways while wearing the attire of an athlete. A fashion facade indeed, but Barclays analysts estimate the U.S. athletic apparel market will increase by an additional 50 percent by 2020, raking in more than $100 billion in sales. But that’s no indication of a large influx of people’s sports participation, gym memberships, or healthy lifestyle increase to go along with all the clothing.
"Everyone is wearing yoga pants, even people who aren't doing it," Karen Score, the owner of Yoga Mandali, an independent yoga store in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., told The Wall Street Journal. Her studio’s new brochures for this year will appropriately read: "Do you wear yoga pants? Why not try yoga?"
Clothing lines are taking advantage of the fashion faux pa, such as luxury brand Christian Dior that will reveal their sneaker-inspired pumps for $1,450 in its fall line. Lululemon Athletica Inc., has been in and out of courtrooms suing whoever uses their clothing patents on bras and pants, which can go for $60 to $108, ultimately making a monopoly of the industry.
Jean sales are down by six percent and suffering, with many analysts placing blame on the yoga pant craze and comfort-wear priorities. It’s no surprise “jeggings,” a pair of leggings designed to look like jeans, were introduced to the market and have been greeted with open arms and lazy legs. Leggings and yoga pants are the top fashion trend for teens, just in time to scare the pants off the jeans businesses, such as popular brands Levi’s, Guess, and True Religion.
The health club industry has increased by 10 percent since 2009, but that’s nothing compared to the yoga pant popularity that’s risen 6.7 percent in sales since 2010, and in 2013 alone sportswear sales grew 3.4 percent, according to Fortune. This year sales are projected to grow an additional 3.3 percent by December. As sales rise, more and more people will camouflage themselves into groups of athletes and gym-goers as copy cats and wanna-be workout loyalists. No longer will we be able to walk down the street, spot a girl wearing yoga pants and assume she’s attending yoga class because, in reality, she’s probably just on her way to binge watch Netflix or meet up with friends for drinks.
"When you put on your workout apparel," Alexandra Medina, a busy mom who frequently adorns yoga pants but can’t find time for the gym, told the WSJ. "You think, 'Huh, maybe I should think about working out today.'"