Performance fabrics and athleisure, a winning partnership

10 April 2020  officine_admin 

AthleisureWe have interviewed a designer specialized in sportswear and street style to analyze the mechanisms which trigger her intuitions concerning fashion trends and the creation of new segments which will be the next big things like athleisure, which appeared on the catwalks in 2013 and has so far always been under the spotlight .

We are going to find out how the production of innovative performance fabrics is strictly relted to this successful phenomenon.

What does athleisure mean?

Athleisure is an English neologism stemming from the mix between athletic and leisure, which can be translated as  sportswear items to be used during leisure time, even though there is much more to it than this.

What about its origins?

This trend comes from an alchemic blend of different trends which have evolved towards the same direction. A new, independent market sector, close to street style,  has been created to satisfy both aesthetic and functional exigencies by complementing sportswear, activewear and casualwear.

Two main components have contributed to this physiological evolution: the increase in sport activities regardless of today’s hectic pace, and the surprising comeback of a vintage look reminding to glossy, triacetate tracksuits dating back to the time of the epic challenges between Björn Borg and John McEnroe and Jane Fonda’s Lycra bodysuits.

Designers wanted to ride the sportswear wave to create extremely comfortable collections with an extra touch of glamour.

Can you name a special item which may have started this trend?

We can say leggings were athleisure “pioneers” and since then they have evolved surprisingly fast in terms of performance, comfort and aesthetic features. Originally made of cotton and elastane they used to lose their shape and elasticity after a little use and a few washes due to fibers breakages, whereas now they are made of ultra-light, high performance materials, which shape the silhouette without constraints, and adding a fashionable touch . Let’s take  B-MELANGE by Jersey Lomellina as an example: a double-face fabric made of plain cotton on one side and mélange polyamide on the other side, it is ideal for the creation of fold over waist  trousers and contrasting details. The wider selection of products provided by textile companies allow designers to created different variants of the same basic item such as leggings with different colors and performances. B-Fit by Jersey Lomellina is typical of this trend. A last generation double face conceived to be extremely moisture wicking thanks to the presence of polyester on the inside of garments and polyamide on the outside.

Leggings has made a comeback in several different lengths: the Capri style ones and the more recent ⅞ have replaces socks and stockings, and can offer the same fitting thanks to fabrics which do not curl and can be laser cut to create items which are now really different from their predecessors. Vita Power di Carvico, thanks to a high and well balanced muscular compression power which contributes to reducing lactic acid and enhances recovery, is actually the perfect material for extra comfortable shaping leggings. It is worth mentioning also cycling pants, leggings close relatives, which reach down to mid quads, which have been restyled by athleisure with inserts in micro-mesh like Alicante, an ultra-light, tight-fitting bi-elastic mesh fabric which makes these shorts look sexy when worn under tulle skirts  with black leather military ankle boots.

We cannot forget about the legendary Revolutional® di Carvico, whose name was not chosen randomly: we are talking about a truly revolutionary fabric both in its structure and production process which boasts two exclusive patents. It is a real ultra-lightweight, extra fine performance fabric which fits the body like a second skin, an exceptional product, a real must-have for professional sports people.

All this technology designed for the creation of performance sportswear and then moved to fashion, could not but generate a success story  and nowadays athleisure garments boast a privileged role in every woman’s wardrobe.

The classic basketball shorts in triacetate which  were actually quite unflattering for women’s silhouette have been revamped through the use of new softer, more fluid and sexier materials and patterns with side slits often matched with vertical printed stripes or inserts. Sumatra by Carvico, the athleisure par excellence, is perfect for this use since it blends comfort and a trendy look.

Is technology so important for the creative process, then?

It is fundamental, I would say. The textile supply chain is a precious instrument which provides  designers with a wider territory to express and stimulate their creativity: the synergy between textile technology and design is crucial. Having some fabrics with a metal effect and a soft hand feel like  Venezia by Carvico has allowed brands to  produce sportswear tops and vests with an extra touch of glamour which makes them suitable for being used also outside the gym.

H2 > If fashion keeps evolving, how would you explain the fact that the atleisure trend is still here?

Fashion is synonymous to change and evolution. Sometimes it may seem to generate an inevitable break with the past, but it is actually a natural evolution of it. When it comes to the athleisure trend, born to take some performance garment and sportswear items outside their original market sector, we can say that the secret of its success lies in its being functional and in its look identifying a more active, dynamic and healthy lifestyle. Free from formal boundaries, the mix of performance and style has allowed athleisure to become an evergreen, a versatile segment in very different collections addressed to various target audiences and therefore in continuous evolution. And following this trend several brands dating back to the ‘70s have had their comeback, too, inspiring even luxury brands which now boast dedicated capsules.

The most iconic item?

The tracksuit. Made of Aldabra by Carvico it is incredibly modern. We are talking about a  full-zip tracksuit made of  a creased, bright and glossy velvet, with pockets made with a glossy, silky fabric such as Hamptons, and rhinestones or lurex embroidered details. Trousers can be wide or narrow ankles. However, the key words are sexy-comfort.

What are the real must-have items?

The crop-top, that is to say a short, raw cut sweater, with coverstitch seams on the inside, and definitely oversize. 

The white sports bra with iridescent printing to be worn under 5,5 OZ denim shirts. We can find an amazing example made of Aspen by Carvico, a matt fabric, resistant to chlorine ideal for transfer printing.

The bomber jacket, made of glossy fabrics with contrasting piping elements, designed to enhance the raglan sleeves, the jewel zip or the more traditional polish snap fastener, Proposed by fashion brands both in an increased length  model (with a regular fitting but longer, not to be confused with oversize items), and in a larger one with elastic waist bands. 

As al alternative to classic leggings with flat seams, we can find high waist, flared Capri pants made of soft and resistant fabrics such as  Vita by Carvico, which is not only stretch and with an amazing shape retention power, but also highly UV protective. We cannot forget about see-through inserts on leggings and shorts designed to make them sexier and also the contrast between glossy and matt elements of  Vita SUEDE by Carvico, which can be matched with Hamptons a glossy, bi-elastic fabric or the above mentioned Revolutional®, existing in 10 versions including an ECO one designed to satisfy the market demand for  eco-responsibility and sustainability ; Carvico has always been fond of such concepts, since its early days. Entirely made of regenerated nylon it ensures a perfect fit anti-pilling properties, and a high resistance to abrasions. Long live eco-friendly pants made of this material, then.

Revolutional® SWEET stands out for its softness, ideal for palazzo pants which need to sinuously follow the body movements.

Revolutional® ZENITH is instead stronger with a high muscular compression and an extraordinary shape retention power, which is perfect for the creation of more structured trousers and high performance, catchy sweat jackets.

Finally, stretch micro-mesh fabrics are expected to replace  chiffon in luxury T-shirts and sophisticated tank tops to be worn at cocktail parties or at work or even for a shopping spree downtown. 

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