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It’s not a trend. It’s a lifestyle.
Atheliesure brands have taken over my wardrobe. I used to be a guy that lived in skinny jeans and pointed-toe boots. If an item was constricting and unforgettable, I wore it. Comfort meant nothing to me; it was all about my presentation. Then, when I hit my 30s a few years back, I came to the realization that I didn’t need to dress to the nines every time I walked out my front door. I didn’t need to wear a belt and piles of necklaces to go to the corner store for a pack of cigs and some Doublemint. Fitted joggers, a hoodie, and sneakers were satisfactory. Admittedly, I was late to this revelation.
In the early 2010s, athliesure started burgeoning from recesses called yoga centers. Brands like Lululemon, Alo, Nike, and Adidas started to create workout clothes that were elevated, that used quality materials to form streamlined silhouettes, stuff that looked too good to just wear at the gym. So instead of changing, people kept these outfits on and just went about their day. Slowly but surely, pieces that seamlessly blended style, comfort, and performance became a part of people’s collective MO. I could call it a trend, but it’s more than that, because a decade later, athliesure persists. I’m a walking example of it.
Basically, you need to get on the bandwagon. And to help you out, I rounded up 18 of the best atheliesure brands, the labels that offer collections that are satisfactory in all scenarios.
Adicolor Classics Primeblue SST Track Jacket
Adidas’s signature three stripes are hard to miss. From Run-DMC and Ray Liotta in Goodfellas to Pharell Williams on the red carpet and Ben Stiller in The Royal Tenenbaums, the brand is a juggernaut, finding a fixed place in the firmament of pop culture. It offers tracksuits, tennis sneakers, skate shoes, hiking essentials, and more—all of them are built for sports of all kinds, but shine brightly and distinctly on the stage, screen, and the streets, too.
Everyday Full Zip Hoodie
Enter any yoga center, especially ones in Los Angeles, and you can feel the presence of Alo. The brand is trend-driven, priding itself for its fashion-forward fits: its shorts, jackets, joggers, and tees are slouchier and laidback when compared to others in the same category, though somehow still look sleek. They are the kinds of pieces that are great for breaking a sweat—and not just for those that can dhanurasana.
Alpha Direct Tapered CORDURA and Polartec Fleece Drawstring Trousers
The duo behind And Wander, Keita Ikeuchi and Mihoko Mori, design pieces that play with proportions and tweak fabrics, creating textures that feel as good as they look. It should come as no surprise, then, that they are proteges of Issey Miyake. Both are also greatly inspired by nature, its colors and patterns, bringing that vibe to stylish collections that raises the bar in athleisure.
Spino Slim-Fit Stretch-Shell Shorts
Max Vallot and Tom Daly, the founders of District Vision, are very serious about the pieces they produce. Athletes—true professionals in sports—are who they target when they create textiles and envision silhouettes. Performance is at the core of the brand. But the designs are just so eye-catching, so well-made, that it just had to be available for everyone else. Just ask Reigning Champ, Salomon, and Saturdays NYC—all brands that partnered with District Vision on hot-ticket capsules.
The Track Hoodie
Everlane is the direct-to-consumer behemoth that produces the kind of stuff that’ll last the long haul. From slim-fit jeans, chinos, and sweatpants to joggers, performance tees, and hoodies, it carries wardrobe essentials, the kinds of pieces that are made for one and all. The kinds of pieces that’ll make you function properly. No matter the year or season, Everlane maintains a minimalist aesthetic, focusing on creating eco-friendly styles that look good at the gym and outside of it.
The Training Day Tank
Since Kate Hudson founded Fabletics a decade ago, it has become one of the fastest-growing brands in the industry, initially as a membership program that offered women bright, beautifully-made sportswear. In 202o, with an investment from Kevin Hart, the label segued into menswear, offering guys similar styles to the ones that ladies have loved for years.
Sierra Sun Hoodie
Big, bold, and a little bit funky: that’s what characterizes Hoka One One’s sneakers—ones that runners really love—best. The brand’s apparel keeps the vibrant aesthetic, but is made sleeker, intending to fit wearers perfectly. For Hoka, no loop, no pocket, no detail is too small. Everything is meant to enhance your capability to move.
Drysense Training Short Sleeve Shirt
Athleisure, as a category, essentially began with Lululemon. Over two decades ago, the Canadian brand started making top-quality pieces for yogis. Its pieces were so elevated that people started wearing them outside centers—to brunch, the office, and even a night out. Lululemon capitalized on this momentum, expanding its range by offering suits, dress shirts, and more. Now, it’s a genuine juggernaut.
Sportswear Premium Essentials T-Shirt
Ah, Nike: a name that needs no introduction. Like Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonald’s, it is known the world over, the reputed leader in sportswear. Sneakers, shirts, pants, and so much more, all with that signature swoosh, are instantly recognizable. Nike is a brand that continuously innovates, always pushing the boundaries of design, which is why it continues to top most lists of the best labels.
When On debuted in 2010, its goal was to change the world of running, to really elevate the sport. The brand, based in Switzerland, started down this path by introducing running shoes, ones endorsed by Olympic gold medalists. Over the years, the label began to produce apparel that followed the same credo: pieces that looked incredibly elegant, but were built to perform.
Don’t you love running and style? If so, no other brand will satisfy you more than, well, Satisty. The Parisian label creates collections inspired by the sunkissed landscape and laid-back vibe of the American desert. It is a brand that favors a mix of dyes, trippy patterns, and other details that, simply put, look super cool. Not only that, but the materials it uses are of the highest quality, all of them meant to withstand the heat and improve air circulation.
Rhone’s a relatively new entrant to the already-crowded athleisure arena. The brand was founded in 2016, launching with GoldFusion, its proprietary technology that enhances durability and eliminates odors. It is also environmentally sound. With all this in mind, it is no wonder why the label has grown exponentially, competing neck and neck with players that have been in the game for decades.
Garment-Dyed French Terry Hoodie
Since starting his label in 1967, initially selling ties, Ralph Lauren developed his company from an accessories collection to a full-fledged lifestyle brand, the first in history according to many. He has many lines under his banner, but the most athleisure of them is RLX, a diffusion of the Polo Sport label, which launched in 1998 and catered to sports of all kinds.
7″ Midweight Warm Up Short
Todd Snyder, a name known to all who read Esquire regularly, is deserving of all the attention he gets. Coming from a successful turn as J.Crew’s head of menswear, the designer’s collection have been celebrated for tweaking classic American styles in cool, eye-catching ways. His line hits every fashion category, including athleisure, and everything is made to flatter and stand the test of time.
Brighton Base Layer Tee
Like On, Tracksmith also started out the gate with the goal of revolutionizing running. But its target audience wasn’t pros or folks who stood atop podiums. The brand wanted to create pieces for amateurs, those who ran as part of their lifestyle and didn’t get a paycheck for playing a sport. As a result, the overall look of its collections was a priority. Founders Matt Taylor and Luke Scheybeler landed on vintage racing cars as their source of inspiration, making it a stable motif.
Sunday Performance Jogger
Vuori is a heavy-hitter in the athleisure space. Based in Encinitas, California, the brand offers styles that imbue a chill vibe: shirts, joggers, and more are made to be uncomplicated and functional. For the team, it’s all about easing into garments and feeling comfortable, but still looking like you care about appearances. Vuori is a label that’s equal parts elevated and casual, which is why it has such a large fan base.
From baseball and tennis to golf and football, Wilson offers gear for all kinds of sports, some of the best around, in fact. More recently, the storied label is looking to bolster its standing in the sartorial world, introducing new collections that are built to withstand sweat and heat, but look good enough to wear in any casual setting.
Classic Heavy Piqué Crew Sweatshirt
In 2002, before high fashion and activewear really gelled, Yohji Yamamoto formed a partnership with Adidas, called Y-3. Back then, blending performance capabilities with the design eye of a couturier was newfangled. It’s now pretty standard in the industry. But as the OG, Y-3 has stayed on the top, earning a cult-classic rep by continuing to offer styles that blend artistry and utility seamlessly.