In January, fitness fashion becomes a hot topic in every sense. Working up a sweat at this time of the year can be a weighty issue for those of us with enlarged waistlines after the Christmas blow out. Yet images of workout gear are invariably modelled by impossibly fit bodies and never by the ones who might need some improvement to their silhouettes. Sport dominates fashion and is powered by new technology, so your mesh top, Flyknit trainers and go faster stripes are not necessarily confined to the gym anymore but are cool enough for everyday street wear or as weekend uniforms.
The trend of marrying big sportswear brands with designers or celebrity figures continues apace with everyone muscling in. Stella McCartney has partnered with Adidas for years while more recently Beyonce's Ivy Park range for Topshop with its tracksuits and slogan tees and H&M's fashion forward active wear, bring some chic to otherwise functional clothing. Rihanna's Fenty for Puma is another case in point. In the US, the so called athleisure market is worth more than $44 billion and is said to rise to $83 billion by 2020.
The latest designs blind one with technology. Nike, for instance, have just launched a new Flyknit bra based on the same no waste, single thread fabric technology used in their trainers while H&M's new collection, quick dry and seamless, is made in recycled polyester and elastane and designed to be figure flattering with contrast panelling, criss-cross backs and decorative webbing.
M&S, brand leaders in bra technology, claim that their seam free and “bounce control” high impact bra (which fits up to 36GG) is based on Japanese airbag technology. Lululemonn’s various fabric types are aimed at different activities be they cycling, dancing or yoga and come in deliberately dark functional colours.
Many like fitness expert Jane Shorthall argue that you get what you pay for. Good supportive footwear (preferably cross-trainers for all activities) - Asics, Nike, Adidas - are vital and cheap leggings that offer little stretch and tend to slip or go opaque in areas of strain are worth avoiding if you are serious about comfort, support and good shape. Here in Ireland, Penneys leggings go up to size 18, Lifestyle Sports have launched a Women's Studio recently for the "fit focused and trend conscious", like Skulpt in Blackrock, Trendy & Bendy, David Lloyd in Clonskeagh while Irish designers like Jennifer Rothwell and TV presenter Amanda Byram have created their own activewear lines. Fitness fashion is active on all fronts.