Just as we were starting to get (a little too) comfy in our sweatpants and slides, apparently ‘athleisure is out.’ And I know what you’re thinking, “how terribly Mean Girls,” but it’s coming from Regina George herself: founder of lululemon, Chip Wilson.
In fact, he says it’s been “over” for a while.
“I think that there’s been a collapse of what someone would call the ‘athleisure market’,” Wilson said in a phone interview with Business Insider. “If lululemon thinks it’s in the athleisure business — that would be its biggest mistake.”
“We call it ‘streetnic’ — technical, stretch, street … It’s not fashion people trying to make this stuff look athletic. [The] lululemon business is athletic wear that’s made technical and just because [it] works so well technically, people wear it onto the street.”
Aside from being two unique, completely fabricated terms (although one has made it into the dictionary), athleisure puts fashion first, functionality second whereas streetnic is first and foremost a technical piece of apparel which, according to Chip Wilson just so happens to be stylish too.
Riding alongside the likes of lululemon, Wilson championed other brands for their functional-fitness philosophy. One of which was Nike, well known for its dedication to innovation and athletic performance. From elite running shoes to their work for the 2016 Australian Open, and even more recently with the Olympic apparel, Wilson recognises Nike are “pushing technology.”
He also singled out Under Armour, a brand that began with an athletic focus, selling fitness clothing specifically designed to keep you warm or cool, and that continues to put functionality at the forefront in every aspect. And Rapha, a cycling brand.
There’s no doubt lululemon have long been known for their commitment to high performance active wear and technical detailing. Never has this been more evident than with the opening of the lululemon labs, which manifest innovation and expertise. Coming from a brand that prides itself on such quality, we understand the importance of making the differentiation between comfortable and functional, and when it comes to working out, we agree that technical prowess should always be at the forefront.
That being said, whether it’s athleisure that happens to be good for a workout or streetnic that’s sweat-wicking and stylish, we’ll happily make room in our wardrobe. And since we’re not quite ready to relinquish our track pants from their newfound freedom, we’ll have to accept that we won’t always have a seat at Wilson’s table in the cafeteria.