3 Reasons Why Athleisure Is Here To Stay

In Hong Kong, the trend is clear. Cocktails have given way to kale and chia seed juices; partying all night has been replaced by 6 am boot camps and spinning classes; slinky pencil skirts and heels are shoved deep in the closet in favor of yoga pants and feather-weight trainers.

Flaunting a toned body clad in athleisure wear (an industry buzzword for activewear) and sipping from a recycled glass bottle filled with creative concoctions of liquid greens from a juice cleanse is, nowadays, equivalent to donning the latest Chanel bag.

Welcome to the world of WELLTHNESS, a $3.4 trillion market worth of health and wellness lifestyle that is catching on like wildfire. Taking elite fitness classes, committing juice cleanses that cost thousands, and consuming expensive organic foods give affluent consumers bragging rights without sounding overly self-important.

In the last five years, we’ve seen an explosion of new juicing brands in Hong Kong from zero to 14[1]. Specialized gyms like Flex, Bouncelimit, XYZ and Barre to Barre have sprouted all over the Central area to give corporate executives and affluent moms invigorating sanctuaries.

Branded workout merchandise have made huge leaps in the otherwise lackluster apparel industry, with Nike and Lululemon leading the way with a 40% and 16% growth, respectively, in 2015[2]. Adidas has flexed its muscles by taking the ultra expensive retail space on the corner of Queen’s Road Central and D’Aguilar Street and advertising on a good portion of Hong Kong’s most valuable billboard spaces.

Luxury brands are all jumping on the bandwagon, abandoning stilettoes and tailored outfits for athleisure-inspired collections. Although athleisure is just the tip of the iceberg in the whole “wellthness” arena, this fad is here to stay.  Why?

  1. Wearing is believing- Called “enclothed cognition" by scientists who did a study to “describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes"[3]. Just like wearing a power suit makes an executive feel more confident, wearing athletic gear influences a person to make healthier choices or just feel healthier. People like the idea of feeling healthy, regardless of whether or not they have worked out.
  2.  Rise of the “Healthie”- Bragging about a $10,000 handbag or a shiny sports car would always appear much more ostentatious than boasting a perfectly toned body clad in a Lucas Hugh outfit. A “healthie” (selfie that promotes a healthy lifestyle) gives off a more inspirational and empowering vibe than any luxury material goods.
  3. Sweatworking trend- Fitness has become such an integral movement now that no one even bats an eye when you rock up to the office in athleisure wear. Short, high-intensity workouts during lunchtime, coined “sweatworking”, is catching on in Asia. Ensuring a broad portfolio of gym-to-work apparel brands available for shoppers in Asia is becoming a smart move for retailers.

The next time you look at your newsfeed on social media, glance through the inspirational quotes and status updates and see how many of your friends have posted “healthies” or photos of their gyms and juices. Trust me, this athleisure trend is here to stay. Until Kim Kardashian thinks of the next clever fad.

About the author

Previously a lingerie and swimwear designer, Stephanie Poon is passionate in her quest to marry comfort and aesthetics. She is now the founder of athleisure brand Zarie.co. For more information about her new collection of slimming leggings, check out https://nextchapter.com.hk/campaign/zarie-slimming-leggings

[1] Statistic provided by Mr. Green Juice
[2] Forbes Magazine: Lululemon, Nike, and the rise of althleisure
[3] Journal of experimental social psychology, Volume 48, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 918–925