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International Day of Yoga: Apparel that goes beyond utility | Fashion Trends

Don’t have time to change between yoga and grocery run? Have an e-meet but that post-yoga nap took longer than expected? Fret not. Evolving activewear trends have blurred the line between chic and utilitarian and what were strictly dubbed exercise clothes have grown to become trendy everyday wear. Though the term athleisure has been around for some decades, it was only added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2016, defining it as ‘casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use’. Think sports bras paired with button-down shirts, oversized hoodies tucked into leggings or zip-up jackets with yoga shorts.

Innovations in materials and textiles, the need to push comfort beyond the house and a steady diet of celebrity gym culture has given a boost to yogawear labels worldwide. According to a study by Germany-based market and consumer data analysts Statista, the global revenue of the yoga apparel market in 2021 was estimated at around USD 22.7 billion that would grow to approximately USD 40 billion by 2028 at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate ) of 8.4 per cent. The international resurgence of the street chic aesthetic – recent paparazzi photos of English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in leggings from Los Angeles-based brand Alo with a YSL bag as she went for a stroll in New York, American model Hailey Bieber in high-waist leggings from the same brand paired with a baggy crop sweatshirt on a juice run in LA or American actor Vanessa Hudgens running errands in California-headquartered activewear brand Fabletics — create similar aspirations for connoisseurs.

(L-R): Vanessa Hudgens in Fabletics and Hailey Bieber in Alo leggings.  (Photos: Instagram)
(L-R): Vanessa Hudgens in Fabletics and Hailey Bieber in Alo leggings. (Photos: Instagram)

“The usual pairing of yoga wear is to mix it with street style sweaters or elevated sportswear. The global culture trickle down has led us to style ourselves in a lot of designs from celebrities,” shares Shruti Nair, marketing & operations manager, HRX.

Sarah Jane Dias in leggings by Seeqactive.  (Photo: Instagram/Sarahjanedias)
Sarah Jane Dias in leggings by Seeqactive. (Photo: Instagram/Sarahjanedias)

Taking cue from celebrities and their own innovations, people are now experimenting with different styles. “People are no more just choosing lounge wear for gym and are getting mindful of looking a certain way,” explains Sanjana Masand, founder of Mumbai-based activewear label Seeqactive. The demand for variety in style, silhouette and sensibility led to homegrown brands to reinvent. “Mostly what you used to get was blacks and greys; we wanted to bring freshness into it and elevate those looks. Internationally, there is a trend of adopting yoga wear into resort wear or creating everyday looks with it” says Dhriti Badani of Mumbai-based activewear label Silvertraq who have retained a distinctly Indian aesthetic by using shibori prints and tie-and-dye.

Malvika Mohanan in a leopard-print coord yoga wear set by Silvertraq.  (Photo: Instagram/Silvertraq)
Malvika Mohanan in a leopard-print coord yoga wear set by Silvertraq. (Photo: Instagram/Silvertraq)

Further, the covid-induced lockdowns in 2020 propelled the rise of homegrown activewear labels. Seeing a shift in the post-lockdown adaptability of yoga clothes catapulted Delhi-based loungewear label uNidraa into diverting their efforts on yoga wear. “People started working out of their homes in nightsuits and even styled them as coord sets. The demand definitely went up in that period,” observes founder Anu Beri.

Choosing the right fit and fabric

“Finding the right fabric for Indian climate is very important and nothing is better than cotton. We use cotton slub for summer collections and for winter, we go for mashru. Yoga wear has to be odour-free, soft and fuss-free and that’s why we don’t even use buttons or zippers,” explains Beri. Mesh is another favorite that is used to offer better ventilation. “We use mesh in areas like behind the knees to let sweat out. Our yoga wear is quick dry, anti-microbial and remains odor free,” says Badani.

uNidraa uses cotton and cotton slub fabrics for its yoga wear collections.
uNidraa uses cotton and cotton slub fabrics for its yoga wear collections.

Personalizations according to the preferred kind of workout play an important role – what works for someone who does lifts with their yoga routine might not work for someone who does aerial yoga. “It depends on the usage – if it’s for yoga, the clothes need to sit comfortably in their place. Also, we are a hot country so we prefer quick-drying, light-weight fabrics that are breathable. Lastly, personal comfort is the key – you might like a loose, oversize fit whereas someone else might prefer sports bra and tights,” says Masand.

Style it right

Yoga wear styling tips by Shruti Nair, marketing & operations manager, HRX

1. Pairing an oversized white shirt with tights is a staple. Add on ankle boots and there you have it!

2. Pair up a hoodie with tights and you can hang out with friends or go to the movies.

3. Another option is yoga t-shirts tucked in denims for hanging out, a casual drive or even a simple airport look.

4. At home you can pair a sports bra and tracks and you are sorted.

Interact with Etti Bali at @TheBalinian

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