Want to stay stylish while you train? Annmarie O’Connor has the lowdown with just two weeks to the Cork City Marathon
Workout wardrobe looking a bit out of shape? Don’t sweat it. Fitness fashion isn’t just a stylish moniker; it’s a multi-billion-dollar business and, currently, the most competitive sector in the rag trade. What does that mean for you? Everything.
Whether a wellness warrior or strictly athleisure, flexing your sartorial muscle has never been easier. No hiking up leggings in between squats, rescuing perspiration drops from your eyes or feeling the chill when out on a run; the new generation of sportswear is equal parts style and substance, boasting second-skin reliables that deliver high impact results while working out or just hanging out.
As our lives become less compartmentalised and more blended, so does the need for multi-tasking pieces that go the distance and keep us looking our personal best. The Adidas by Stella McCartney performance range is a prime example of the magic that happens when technical know-how meets high fashion nous. With almost 15 years at the forefront of functional fitness fashion, the titular brand puts a strong emphasis on innovation, sustainability, animal and eco-sensitivity. What’s more the use of Adidas’ leading patents make it a serious style contender.
Take this season’s ‘UltraBOOST X 3D’ sneakers, made from breathable Primeknit with panels of leopard print and neon-orange, the shoe’s fused yarn wraps around the foot like a sock allowing for flexibility, stability and support. The combination of a lace-free, slip-on silhouette with a responsive rubber ‘boost’ sole is a boon for time-pressed go-getters and mutli-taskers.
Whether working up a sweat working out or simply trying to keep it all together, look for pieces in the collection that boast the moisture-wicking Climalite® stretch fabric. Designed for warmer weather activities, the material keeps the body cool by pulling perspiration away from the skin - ideal for runners (hello, Cork Marathon!), busy moms and hot yoga adherents.
Equally stalwart are the leggings in the brand’s most recent collaboration with Parley for the Oceans - an environmental organisation that addresses environmental threats towards the oceans. Using a flexible, sculpting fabric made from recycled plastic that’s washed up on beaches around the world, these bad boys stay firmly in place. What’s more, the elasticated waistband doesn’t leave tell-tale belly marks; plus, the breathable perforations leave you looking and feeling cool.
Although a whopping 70% of the clothing and 50% of the footwear in this season’s adidas by Stella McCartney collection have been created from recycled materials, some smaller players are making their own mark on the playing field.
London-designed brand Wolf and Whistle adopt a similar sustainable size-inclusive (UK 6-26) activewear practice. As part of a commitment to ethical manufacturing, the ampersand duo uses Repreve – a performance fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Thick, breathable and easy-to-wear, the digitally-printed material, knitted from soft yarn is available in bold colours and placement prints creating a strong, sexy silhouette with a range of supportive cross-back bras, crop and full-length workout tights that sustain both body and planet.
Speaking of which, Irish fitness brand HERSTORM, founded by Barcelona-based Laura Cuddy looks to support and empower the female community with an urban-inspired line of compression clothing. Think sporty Spanx – tricky to get on but once in place, it moulds to the body like a glove. The jiggle-free, tight fit keeps your muscles fully supported and contained. The result? A reduction in post-workout muscle fatigue and improved blood circulation to filter toxins from muscles and improve performance. Plus, the sweat-wicking and anti-bacterial properties mean it works as hard as you do. Should the leisurely approach be more your speed, the streetwear cross-over means the hooded camouflage tops (complete with removable bra padding) can be worn off-duty with one of the line’s branded snapback hats.
A similar inclusive attitude can be found in the hotly-hyped Reebok x Victoria Beckham collaboration. Fun fact: Reebok was the first sportswear brand to design athletic shoes specifically for women - 1982 to be precise. Joining forces with self-professed gym lover Beckham, the lifestyle-led collection is inspired by her own busy schedule. From the stretchy retro-modern ‘Bolton’ sneakers to the super lightweight metallic zip-through and ‘swag orange’ long-sleeve running tops with zipped rear pockets (hands-free!) and handy thumb holes, this partnership is designed to take you from school run to treadmill without having to change.
Let’s face it: the path to physical well-being needn’t be rough terrain. Just ask cult Irish lifestyle brand Gym+Coffee (the clue is in the name), whose ‘stretch yourself; make life richer’ mantra has extended to create a community of like-minded athleisure adherents through their own workout event series. It’s no wonder their latest Mahon Point outpost drew crowds of fun-loving fans on its opening day last April. Their trademark fleece hoodies are regular features at gyms and yoga studios around the country but added to the mix are keep cups, water bottles and wait for it - doggie sweatshirts. Well, there’s no reason why your pooch should let the side down.
Sometimes, it’s not willpower we need to go that extra mile; it’s the right gear to make us feel like it’s possible or, at the very least, that there’s a decent flat white at the end of it.