Fitness wear is ubiquitous today. We see it in the gym for workouts, in the studio for Pilates, in the grocery store and even in casual restaurants and coffee shops. It’s part of the casualization of America. When I look at fitness wear, it pretty much all looks alike. Oh sure, sometimes there will be a bright bold print that stands out or maybe some stripes that catch your eye, but in reality, it all looks alike. Why is that? Got me. It can’t possibly be related to the stresses of exercise can it? How many women actually stress this gear at the coffee shop? I am an exercise fanatic putting in about 2 hours a day. I know that all fitness wear looking alike doesn’t have to do with function. It has to do with conformity, lack of choice and return on investment.
Let’s start with the waistband seen in so many yoga pants. In women’s fitness pants, the wide 6 inch band that encircles your midsection is so pervasive that you would think the brands making them have a universal pattern.
Many women like them because they help to hide the “muffin top”, that pesky bulge of fat above the waistband. Problem is, to hide the muffin top, you either have to pull the pants so high that camel toes become the area of focus rather than the muffin top; or if you wear the wide band low, the rise of the pant becomes redundant with extra folds streaking horizontally across your pelvis. Now neither of those is very becoming. Many women love this waistband because it stays in place. This could be the main reason they have become so popular. This is an example of function defeating fashion. That’s understandable since many women use these pants for exercise and need pants that function and stay in place. But is there a functional and fashionable alternative? These waistbands: fashionable, they are not.
Next let’s look at the center crotch seam (no pun intended). Does it have to be so prominent that it screams “Look at my crotch?”
At least get some matching thread! Many brands espouse the flatlock seam so that there’s no chafing and use it for this seam. The flatlock seam is one where the two pieces of fabric join side to side without having any extra fabric sticking up from the seam on the inside. But if the center crotch seam joins a gusset which is designed to prevent chafing, why have a gusset and the flatlock as well? Are we worried that we’ll get chafed in our crack in the back or on our lower abdomen in front? That doesn’t seem likely since chafing generally occurs in areas of high movement such as the lower legs. Oh sure, the hips move a lot during exercise but our underwear is our friend here. However, flatlock seams are strong seams which is an advantage functionally. The problem with flatlock seams in the crotch relates to the amount of thread and the width of the seam….both very prominent. Is there a functional and fashionable alternative? Flatlock seams in the crotch: fashionable, they are not.
Gussets are controversial. I am not a seamstress or pattern maker. I can only give you my observations. Gussets are that triangular or rhomboidal shaped fabric in the crotch that is supposed to prevent CT (camel toes) and add strength.
If that is the case, why do I see so many camel toes in women with pants that have gussets? Why do some of the big brands claim that they will never get rid of the gusset because it is so great? They say it will prevent chafe in the crotch, but how many women do you know that wear fitness pants without wearing underwear? Most women exercise with thong underwear which in reality is a gusset. Why add a second one and then brag that if a woman doesn’t wear underwear, the gusset is her friend? Redundancy isn’t necessary particularly if it contributes to camel toes. The underwear not only protects the sensitive areas but keeps the seams from rubbing no matter what type of seam it is. It is my opinion that the gusset is a marketing ploy and may actually contribute to the dreaded camel toes. All you need to do is read some blogs and you’ll see the gusset isn’t the end all for CT’s. It also looks like a bull’s eye for the you know what when in Downward Dog! Is there a functional and fashionable alternative? Camel toes and gussets: fashionable, they are not.
Tanks tops are next. Why do they all look alike?
Do they require some magical design to allow freedom of movement and strength? Do they all have to look like “Old Man T’s” or “Wife Beaters”? My personal opinion is that the in-house designers of athletic wear are only concerned about function and not fashion. It’s possible they don’t even have a creative design background; think technical designers? Is it the cost of putting something out that doesn’t look like everyone else’s tank that prevents innovation in these big brands? The market may not like it, and therefore they don’t innovate for fear of no ROI. Did Steve Jobs think that way? Thinking out of the box doesn’t seem to be part of the fitness wear world. Or maybe it’s too hard to integrate fashion into functional workout wear. Oh well, I’m off my soap box now. Is there an alternative that is functional and stylish for tanks and that looks different? Tanks like “Old Man T’s”: fashionable, they are not.
So now that I’ve blown off some steam about the lookalikes, what is out there that fits the needs of the athletic woman? Women who exercise want function but does that preclude fashion? I think most women would love a stylish alternative to brand A. I think looking good while exercising makes it easier to sweat your way through the routine especially if others are sneaking a peek. Kind of makes you peddle a little harder, doesn’t it?
So what’s the solution to the lookalike fitness wear of today? Take a fitness enthusiast and with a fashion background and let her do her magic. I think this combination is unique in the fitness brands. In the case of Turn It On Fitness, www.turnitonfitness.com, it’s Juetta West as the visionary and driving force.. Juetta has years in the fashion industry as a runway model for Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Bob Mackie and many others, as well as years honing her fitness practices. Juetta noticed the lack of fashion in the gym and the vanilla look to everyone. She knew there was an alternative. It is no easy task fusing function and fashion into fitness wear. It starts with designs. They are put out for review by the team at Turn It On Fitness, and it’s frequently difficult to decide between the dozens of unbelievable styles. It’s narrowed down based on look and potential fitness function. Sourcing the correct fabric is next. Remember, it’s the fusion of fitness with fashion, so we need 4 way stretch, moisture wicking high performance technical fabrics. But how does that integrate with fashion? Today, there are textile manufacturers who are making blends with the performance characteristics that are needed for function, but also have the hand feel and finishes that most people wouldn’t recognize as fitness fabric. This type of fabric is expensive and maybe that’s why some of the bigger brands stick to polyester and other fabrics without these characteristics. Have you ever wondered why certain crop pants are $39 and others are $150? Look at the care and content label. It’s almost always because polyester is so inexpensive. Next comes the prototypes. Now it’s time to get into the gym to test the function. If it doesn’t work, back to the drawing board. Bring that arm hole up slightly to elongate the torso but not so much that it impedes function.
Take that flatlock out of the crotch and add a serge seam so that it’s not noticeable but use heavy stretch thread for strength and function to compensate.
Remove any thoughts of a gusset. It’s a CT creator. Add a waistband that is flattering and functional.
Create a “V” shaped waistband that is high on the sides but dives in the front and back to elongate the woman’s legs. Make sure it is high on the hips to hide the muffin top but also clings to the high hip bone to keep the pants from slipping down. As for the tops, forget the Old Man T. Integrate on trend design elements from the runway such as asymmetry, color blocking, silhouetting, high fashion trims and zippers, ruching and deep V bust lines. Not so deep however to interfere with function, but just deep enough to flatter the décolletage is what we’re talking about.
Make sure the stitching and the bindings are strong but of such high quality that it can be mistaken for catwalk quality.
So we finally get back to the question of why is there a homogenization of fitness wear? Well I say there doesn’t need to be if you look. It just takes a little effort to get by all the noise.
Founder of Turn It On Fitness
Juetta is a former high fashion runway model for fashion luminaries such as Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, Bill Blass, and many more. She is a former NFL cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals and is on the panel which selects Ben Gal cheerleaders. She is a former 4 time twirling champion for the State of Ohio and today she excels in a lifestyle of fitness, nutrition, and fashion inspiring women of all ages to understand that beauty has no expiration date and that every day it is necessary to take action on behalf of your own health and style.