The meme, “Every day I put on my silly little clothes and do my silly little things,” epitomizes accurately the wisdom of life, which often feels like a video game—repetition with little exciting dialogue. Except… most video game characters only . are equipped with One Silly outfit of choice, worn on a day to day basis with no complaints. We may be living in a fake reality, but the unspoken rules of that world expect me to change my ‘fits’ from time to time as I go about my silly little tasks. But, hypothetically, if I were to choose a default outfit that’s comfortable and functional for everyday wear, my choice would probably be exercise attire.
It’s no stretch to claim that most millennial and Gen Z-aged women have heard of the dress—or even their own. For those unfamiliar, allow me to explain: An exercise dress, as its name suggests, is an all-in-one garment made of stretchy fabric (usually a nylon-spandex blend) with built-in The underside of spandex shorts is a short, slightly down. Pleated skirt. This is the definition of the modern athleisure: active and stylish loungewear.
The outfit is designed for exercising and the occasional walk (or walk) around town, and I’ve seen women attend farmers’ markets, coffee shops, the beach, happy hour drinks, and casual social functions without a hitch. Have seen it playing for second thoughts. It’s no coincidence, then, that “doing things” is the hashtag-cum-lifestyle mission of Outdoor Voices, the millennial-run athleisure brand credited with launching exercise clothes into the fashion zeitgeist.
Exercise attire (which, in this case, carries proper noun significance) was first released in 2018 by Outdoor Voices for $100 and became the unofficial blueprint for most workout clothes on the market. The costume debuted at a Los Angeles roller skating rink to much fanfare and included a rollout campaign featuring a CGI influencer, multiple gifts, and an aggressive social media strategy. It quickly became the brand’s best-selling item and was restocked six times over the following year as an internet obsessive following developed. Enthusiastic fans regard the exercise dress as a collectible wardrobe item, an item owned in many prints and cuts. And in 2021, the craze doesn’t seem to be settling just yet. Outdoor Voices released a new and improved version of the costume in April, but the market has become increasingly saturated since then.
For a certain subset of shoppers, it seems like exercise attire is everywhere. Not only does it encompass the latest fashion trends, it’s also great for brands – as a simple, copyable garment to make and a hugely marketable product to sell. The Internet is dotted with exercise dress replicas in a variety of styles, colors, and prints, with names like Paprika Bloom, Ghostin’ Celadon, and Snow Leopard bearing an absurd variety. As the New York Times declared, we have “peak exercise dress.” Of course, society is peaking at everything from oat milk to streaming services, but a quick Google search confirms the apparel’s ubiquity among retailers.
Halara, a Hong Kong-based activewear brand, is known for its TikTok-famous “In My Feels” dress—the most trusted $49.95 dupe of Outdoor Voices’ exercise dress. Another customer favorite is the $88 high-neck “Undress” from Girlfriend Collective, an athleisure brand that uses recycled fabrics made from plastic water bottles. Well-known athleisure mainstages (Nike, Lululemon, Athleta) and fashion retailers (Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aerie, Reformation, and even Amazon) have launched their own workout dress iterations at various price points for $ 31.99 has been issued as low and as much. As of $120.
Despite its history as a three-year-old athletic trend, there are a few reasons exercise attire is feeling extremely relevant again. Girlfriend Collective’s chief marketing officer, Fanny Damiet, told me over email that customers have long requested a workout outfit design, several years before Undress’s release in March.
The pandemic significantly changed our relationship with clothing and eliminated any enduring distinction between “outdoor” and “indoor” styles of dress. People’s quarantine uniforms shifted from sweatpants to bike shorts as the weather warmed, and 2020 saw a huge jump in sales in the athletic market, even though most gyms and yoga studios remained closed. While Covid-19 pushed people towards casual clothing, this was not a new phenomenon: athleisure has secretly dominated casual fashion over the past decade, leading to a decline in sartorial formality in America.
A century ago, a person’s fashion choices align with various social events and occasions throughout the day. Decorum was defined through conventions of dress for both men and women. People have “day clothes for the street, dinner clothes for the restaurant, [and] Theater clothes,” fashion historian Deidre Clemente told The Atlantic. These rigid expectations have since been eroded, and the popularity – and widespread acceptance – of athleisure represents the dissolution of sartorial barriers. The pandemic, naturally, helped speed things up. Today, the ever-controversial womenswear such as leggings and even lingerie have become fair game for outdoor wear.
As novel as modern exercise dress (restrictive, ankle-length dresses used by women in the late 19th century), its silhouette is quite familiar: it bears a sporty resemblance to the slip dress, which There is a slinky garment popularized by supermodels of the 90s. Its versatility and elegance (Nike’s sportswear icon Clash design is basically a calf-length slip).
Like the slip dress, the exercise dress is wearable in many social contexts, adapted to the barrier-free nature of modern society. Despite its name, most people don’t dress to exercise, but as low-maintenance loungewear. In the same way off-duty athletes sport Nike gear, exercise attire is the trademark of an active and carefree lifestyle—the subtle but sporty Girlboss uniform of 2021.
The costume is not only easy to wear, it is easy to make, which is a boon for retailers. The dress can be extended and repeated in all kinds of colors and prints; The hems and cuts need to be changed slightly to create a completely new product. This reproducibility is a defining aspect of most athleisure brands. They are not selling items that are necessarily special or novel; The difference to consumers is the lifestyle and mission that a brand champions. It makes its products feel unique.
But brands also have a lesser role in building consumer enthusiasm – or the perception of virginity – through sponsored content and strategic advertising. According to my colleague Rebecca Jennings, the “TikTok inspired me to buy it” phenomenon has brought random lifestyle products into the limelight, causing some to develop a cult following — and basically sold out overnight. Is. Users are not just getting product recommendations; They are encouraged to create their own reviews of the product, or are offered alternatives to unsold or expensive items. The same thing happened with the exercise dress. On TikTok, the #exercisedress hashtag has garnered over 2.3 million views, with thousands of young women trying on the garment, styling it, offering dress comparisons, or simply wearing it.
And as the general intrigue grew in the dress, so did the press coverage: This summer, women’s fashion and beauty sites like Refinery29, Well & Good, Byrdie, and PopSugar shared their favorite exercise clothes (with handy affiliate links). ), and released the list of Good Morning America running a segment declaring that the apparel was “the hottest trend of the summer.” Influencers reviewed and tote the dress, and the cult of exercise attire turned into a self-deprecating meme among young women.
Pretending I don’t see other exercise dress girls at the ceremony
— ChelseaCirruzzo (@ChelseaCirruzzo) September 5, 2021
The excitement about the garment is not pure algorithmic coincidence. It has become common for brands to masquerade as influencer-created content (such as TikTok product reviews) on social media as paid ads. According to Nicole Alibrandi of influencer marketing agency Mediakicks, this process is called whitelisting. “Whitelisting allows brands to use influencer handles for their ads, which contributes to the feeling of how suddenly a product is ‘everywhere,’” Alibrandy told me over email.
The Halara brand is particularly notorious for its targeted TikTok ads, which are so broad that some users can’t scroll without encountering the app. (at least one woman has made tiktok Begging Halara’s Marketing Team To stop bombarding her with ads.) And as annoying as Halara’s advertising strategy may be, it’s undoubtedly managed to generate attention and discourse around the brand’s best-selling item: the exercise dress.
Athleisure fits neatly into the space between pure exercise apparel and fashion, according to author Gia Tolentino: “The former category optimizes your performance, the latter optimizes your appearance, and the athleisure does both simultaneously. Is.” At a time when fashion trends and our personal tastes are heavily influenced by purchasable algorithms, exercise attire is the quintessential apparel for efficient, optimal living. According to Girlfriend Collective’s Damiet, the wearer puts little effort into styling the dress, as it’s basically an “instant outfit.”
It’s worth pointing out that some of the most recognizable athletic brands are backed by investors who are notoriously style-averse who have a “mirror” approach to fashion. [their] The underlying belief is that individuals’ lifestyles can be customized just like products,” wrote tech writer Drew Austin at Real Life Magazine. Exercise attire is a curious example of a garment that is “subject to functionality”: as a culture, we’ve been seduced by Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism, from the clean lines and spacious, familiar emptiness of mid-century modern is afflicted. Exercise attire is stylish, sure. But it is also the culmination of our modern obsession with usability, simplicity and self-customization.