The Case Against Athleisure

As the co-founder of a brand that designs both men’s and women’s apparel, we’re watching the trends of each, and notably, between the two. At least here on the west coast, men are donning earthy, masculine colors and fits. Plaids, lumber sexual, dark jeans, vintage hiking boots, a beanie — if you are super hip. Women, on the other hand, opting for loose fitting, light structure clothing creeping towards straight up gym wear. In other words, an unstructured approach. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of go-to, comfy joggers on a weekend morning, but I’d love to see women in more structure. We all mocked Hillary’s pant suits (really, they could have been done better, in my opinion) but there’s a solidity in structure. Bring back the shoulder pads! No, just kidding. How can we mix structure into the softness of women’s current fashion, and honor both?

Women’s outdoor gear has long been criticized for the “shrink it and pink it” approach many companies take. The reason this doesn’t work is — fit. Any woman, even if she hates shopping, will probably hate, even more, a boxy, ill-fitting jacket (cut for a man) that makes her look like an oompa-loompa. Likewise, the skin tight activewear dominating some markets now (I’m looking at you yoga clothing and hiking base layer companies), makes me feel (being real here) like a sausage of a human being. I’m not a zero-fat, professional athlete, nor will I ever be. Acceptance is the first step. Give me some room to have a beer you crazy designers!

In our current socio-political climate, where the Women’s March dominated DC and other major cities around the world, there’s a clear trend of women, particularly young women, stepping into the independence and strength, laid out for them by their mothers and grandmothers. They’ll stand, firmly, and say no to the things that they know to be violations against their rights and morals. I love this. To me, this means apparel that is equally strong, built for women from the ground up (not modified men’s fits), produced ethically, and conveys the uniqueness of strength and grace that I know to exist in women.

I’m not saying we abandon athletic pursuits. I love being outdoors and we design for people to go outdoors, gain perspective in the trees, and learn just how strong they really are. I’m saying, women, let’s rethink how we are trying to wear yoga pants all day, every day, to work and beyond.

Being real and being strong, these will be my motivations for design in 2017.