Today, women want more from their athletic wear. Wearing materials that are comfortable and stretch with each movement is important, but it isn’t enough.
“Stylish and feminine clothing is the latest and biggest trend in women’s sportswear,” says Tess Roering, vice president of marketing at Athleta, a women’s performance apparel and gear brand owned by Gap Inc.
“Not only do women want comfortable and breathable clothing, but they want something that’s feminine and cute, too.”
Technology and Sportswear
Sportswear has come a long way from the shorts and T-shirts women used to throw on for a run or workout at the gym.
Instead, today’s sportswear incorporates the latest technology to include materials that are lightweight, reflective, durable, anti-bacterial or anti-odor, offer UPF — Ultraviolet Protection Factor — protection and have wicking qualities.
Pilayo is just one of those new materials. The slightly compressive material helps a garment stay in place so women don’t have to tug on the material.
“You can concentrate on the workout and be comfortable,” Roering says.
Meryl SkinlifE is another new sportswear technology that Athleta offers. SkinLife is a bacteriostatic, which is a fiber that retains a natural balance on the skin, regardless of the level of activity being performed. Also, SkinlifE is a permanent feature in the garment.
“This [SkinlifE] is one of our two favorite materials — it’s anti-odor, has an antimicrobial feature and great wicking capabilities,” Roering says.
For those who swim as their workout of choice, Athleta soon will offer swimwear constructed from Xtra Life Lycra, which repels chlorine and other pool chemicals five to 10 times longer than typical swimwear material.
“The Xtra Life Lycra is a high-performance and long-lasting material, which also offers UPF protection,” Roering says. “The material dries quickly, and the seams of the suit are flat locking.”
Different Needs, Different Athletic Wear
Many women juggle numerous tasks and responsibilities, but they still want to fit a workout into their day. Now, there are ways to balance a wardrobe with a busy schedule.
“Women lead such hurried and varied lives now that versatility is key when choosing the correct active wear,” Roering says. “Layering is a great option, too. This adds versatility to a look because you can add pieces or shed pieces — it’s an easy look to put together.”
For those in the Midwest who live in all four seasons and like to exercise outside, they also have to take into consideration the harsher elements, especially in the winter.
“Reflective material is important especially in the winter because the sun sets earlier,” Roering says.
“So, in addition to active wear, there are many accessories such as headbands and hats with reflective materials and designs, which makes it safer to exercise outside.”
“A winter must-have and personal favorite are the Polartec Power Stretch Touch gloves,” she continues. “Not only do these gloves protect your hands against the cold, but the fabric on the thumb and index finger are made of conductive fabric, making it easy to use a touch screen without taking your gloves off.”
When thinking about athletic wear, Roering suggests women think about their needs. Will they be exercising indoors or outdoors? What type of activity will they engage in?
If indoors, clothing made from the Pilayo or SkinlifE fabric is an excellent choice because it’s breathable and dries quickly.
Roering suggests layering if venturing outside.
“When outside, make sure you layer your clothing, but the layer touching your skin should have wicking capabilities,” she says. “Our [Athleta] Windwarrior Tight pants offer wind proof panels on the front of the legs protecting you against wind and cold.”
“Think about your activities, and buy your active wear for your specific workout,” she adds.
Latest and Greatest Trends
Skorts can help busy moms make the transition from running to the gym to picking up their kids to going to work a bit easier for women, Roering says.
Skorts combine the sports performance and ease of shorts with a little more fashion-forward look of a skirt. Roering says skorts make it easier for women to work out and then go on with their day because it provides extra coverage and looks like a skirt, so they won’t look like they just finished their workout.
“Athleta offers a variety of skorts, but our Contender Skort is a great choice because it’s a skirt with a pair of capris attached underneath, offering women more coverage and great performance,” she says.
“It’s a great mid-weight piece made from Pilayo, which moisture wicks, breathes and has UPF 50 protection.”
And no matter what the season, women no longer have to wear drab, solid colors while enjoying a good sweat.
“Patterned bottoms and bright neon colors make it more fun and fashionable for women to work out,” Roering says.
It’s not unusual to see women running down the street or in the gym sporting plaid shorts, fun, brightly-patterned bottoms or bright neon active wear, she says.
“Wearing bright neon clothing is a great way to work out — it gives you a great lift if you’re wearing hot pink or chartreuse,” Roering says. “Also, you’re easier to see if you happen to be running or biking outside.”
To learn more, visit www.athleta.gap.com.