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The History of Athleisure Clothing

When you walk down the street, you will see that there’s a trend in people’s clothing. They’re wearing sneakers, sweatpants, and hoodies as they run their errands. This trend is called athleisure. And it’s been dominating the fashion industry for years.

We probably don’t think much about this clothing ensemble. After all, it’s so popular that it’s basically the norm. You could wear your hoodie and sneakers when you do to work and no one would even bat an eye. But athleisure hasn’t always been this popular. In fact, there was even a time when men had to protest for their right to wear shorts (more on that later).

This is how athleisure clothing gained prominence in our society.

Starting as Sportswear

Around the 1870s, people were becoming more active. They became interested in activities such as playing tennis and going on bike rides. Because of this, people started needing clothing that’s more comfortable and ideal for mobility. Fashion designers recognized this need and started creating sportswear, which is the precedent of athleisure.

One of the most prominent designers of sportswear Jean Patou was. He gained the attention and recognition of the public when he designed for Suzanne Lenglen, a tennis player, in 1921. Lenglen wore a short pleated skirt to the court at Wimbledon. This skirt put Patou on the map and prompted him to create even more sportswear not just for women but for men as well.

But sportswear wasn’t worn casually yet. It got to the point when young men at Dartmouth College, which was all-male at that time, had to protest their right to wear shorts in the 1930s. At that time, only boys could wear shorts in public. The men’s protest eventually became successful. They could finally wear comfortable clothing in casual settings.

The Popularity of the Polo Shirt

To this day, the polo shirt is a popular item of clothing for men. It originated as a tennis shirt and designed for sportswear. But because sportswear was becoming more prominent in casual settings, the polo shirt became popular as well. Slowly but surely, the athleisure trend is becoming an ensemble of choice for men.

Through the years, men continued to wear polo shirts on various occasions. Brands such as Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren provided an array of polo shirts that men could choose from. Thus, the polo shirt wasn’t just used for sports or casual settings. It’s also used for work. Because of the ease and comfort that the polo shirt brings, it’s an ideal clothing item for men in manual labor. Some companies even started using polo shirts with high-visibility colors and printed logos of their companies. It’s because these were ideal for construction settings.

Athleisure Today


In the age of social media, more people are eager to share their lifestyles with their wide audience. And many of them embody the fitness lifestyle. More people are always going to or from the gym. They are embodying a more laid-back attitude. And the perfect clothing for this lifestyle is athleisure.

Endorsements also helped in making athleisure more popular. Athletes such as Michael Jordan worked with popular brands such as Nike to create sneakers. These were ideal for playing basketball but it’s used more as part of casual clothing.

The COVID-19 pandemic also made athleisure even more popular. Because people were ordered to stay at home, there wasn’t any reason to dress up in fancy clothing anymore. A report found that athleisure might grow by about $81 billion from 2020 to 2024.

In short, athleisure is everywhere. They may be ideal for sports and working out. But they’re also ideal for comfort and lounging around, which many of us did during the pandemic. Thus, it’s clear that this trend will only continue to grow.


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