Beyond Athleisure – Performance in the Age of the Aesthetic

Over the last 13 years, Goose has had the privilege of working with both fashion lifestyle and cutting-edge, technical sports brands, so the convergence of ‘Athleisure’ appeared to be a likely and natural progression for the industry. But why should Athleisure just present itself as a trend? Why shouldn’t it move with trend and be innovative based around our demanding lifestyles and the aesthetics that surround us?

Having loved the challenges of combining functionality with fashion aesthetics since the mid 90s, it is refreshing to see it return with a new form of elegance and eccentricity, boldly strutting down the last few season’s catwalks. It is also interesting to see performance brands trekking down from the mountains, embracing lifestyle and the cityscapes to deal with the everyday demands of busy life and commuting.

If you have ever been unlucky enough to suffer the London Underground at rush hour (or any metro system for that matter), any time of the year, no doubt you would have experienced extreme temperature fluctuations, the issue of keeping your possessions safe and the ergonomic challenge of compacting yourself into a tiny space. If you’re a commuting cyclist, you need ways to keep dry, carry items, be seen and move freely.

 

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It’s with these aspects of modern life in mind that we tackled a new concept for the brand, Falke. It sees the journey of two different people and explores the demands of the city grind and global commute in relation to apparel. We designed a range that addressed these issues. Not only has this concept worked for brands; but for uniform projects also, where the combination of performance elements, a contemporary aesthetic and traditional uniform requirements have proved very successful.

Some Fashion and Lifestyle brands are already doing this well; such as Levi’s with their commuter jean in their ‘Bike to Work’ wear collection. They bring in details like the dipped back hem, 3m reflectives, water repellency and venting etc. Kickstarter funded brands such as DU/ER have produced a Coolmax stretch denim designed for urbanites who love denim and being active. Then there’s the Ministry of Supply; another Kickstarter success, raising over $400,000 to create a ‘performance’ business wear line, looking at temperature regulating NASA engineered phase-change fabrics and thermolamination to bond collar and cuffs.

 

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From the performance side, outdoor brands like Peak Performance are applying their know-how to urban active lifestyle ranges, whilst other brands, such as Aether, create products like the Polar Trench Coat to keep you looking smart and warm in the colder climates. Fitness brands, like Lululemon, also bring elements of luxury performance into their product ranges such as technical cashmere.

 

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Lifting fabric, fits, details and silhouettes out of their traditional contexts and  re-designing them into a category that has new meaning and purpose is where the success of this model truly lies but it will be very interesting to see where this also leads to. With on-going technical development in the apparel industry, the notion of being more comfortable in our own clothes should be incorporated further with performance innovation combined with emerging trends. This means creating dialogue with manufacturers to look at how we can rethink product and how it works for the body, applying the science with the aesthetic to create something new.

There is a lot we can learn from both of these sectors; but fundamentally, we need to combine, innovate and make performance beautiful.

Because lets face it, our lifestyles will always demand this.

 

Jenni Arksey.

 

 

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