There is a movement underway in fashion. Let’s just call it the “casualization” of America. It’s been going on since the 1970’s when hippies first invaded San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district. Even though that’s a radical comparison to what’s going on today, it appears to be the basis of this movement. The ubiquitous blue jean became America’s uniform. Pair a tuxedo jacket with jeans or a silk tunic, it didn’t matter as long as the bottoms were jeans. As the decades have lumbered along, the suit and tie is the latest victim except in big cities such as Chicago and New York. Casual Friday’s are expanding to Casual Mondays, Tuesdays. This is particularly evident in the tech industries but has spread to all segments of business.
In women’s fashion, a similar casualization began a few years ago. Topping the list of casual wear is the yoga pant. This isn’t a fashion statement but rather a declaration that “I want to be comfortable, and I don’t care what I look like”. Spurring this trend along is the fitness craze that is taking over the populous. Whether this craze is related to a better understanding of health and fitness, or because it’s a status symbol to be fit and look fit, only the fitness fanatics can tell us. The yoga pant has become an easy, convenient way to go about your daily routine. The only problem with it is that women’s fashion has fallen victim to the slouchy attire. Oh sure, there’s some cute yoga wear, but still it screams “I just came from the gym”.
About a year ago a new trend emerged, “fitness fashion”. What is fitness fashion? Is it fitness wear that has brighter prints and colors? Is it design? Is it fabrics? Is it less function but more fashion or the other way around? What is this buzz word anyway? Well, it depends on what line you look at. A web search for fitness fashion brings up many brands as fashionable fitness wear for running, yoga and anything sweaty. Now does that sound like fashion?
The search also brings up other fitness lines with bright vibrant colors and prints, but otherwise looks similar to normal fitness wear.
Maybe fitness fashion is in the eye of the beholder. A woman who wears the latest “fitness fashion” may feel more like going to the gym, and that’s a good thing. But what does she look like outside the gym? Maybe that gets us back to the question of what is fitness fashion?
I have a definition of fitness fashion that I’ve never heard expressed before. It’s divided into two parts, Fitness and Fashion. To me, fitness apparel combines several important elements that are mandatory if you’re serious about exercise of any sort. The fabric, fit, and function all have to be incorporated for the apparel to qualify as high performance athletic apparel. Those elements include fabrics with 4 way stretch, moisture wicking, thermal regulation and compression for maximal exercise capacity. It must include function where the athlete isn’t restricted by design allowing freedom of movement. The final component is the fit of the performance apparel. Fit is a combination of feel and function. Pants that slip down and require constant tugging is bad fit. Too tight or too loose feels bad and likewise represents a poor fit.
So what is fashion? To me fashion represents style. It represents the runway. It represents on trend design with color blocking, asymmetry, silhouetting, contour seaming, ruching, deep V necklines and subtleness of color or at least trending color. It represents high quality fabrics with the hand feel of lusciously soft textiles. It represents high quality trims and notions seen on the runway. That’s what fashion is to me.
OK, so that gets us back to fitness fashion. Are there really any lines out there that truly exemplify my definitions of fitness and fashion? I know of only one, Turn It On Fitness www.turnitonfitness.com which is a collaboration between fashion designer Althea Harper (former Project Runway All Star) and former runway model and fitness enthusiast Juetta West. This line combines the function, fit, and fabrics of high performance apparel with Harper’s on trend fashion designs as seen on the catwalk.
These are performance fabrics that feel like high quality textiles. With these fabrics, it’s all in the finish of the fabric. Today’s blends are truly amazing in their performance characteristics and the hand feel that is possible if you pay for it. The on trend styling from this line includes color blocking, asymmetry and all the other design features I included in my definition of fashion.
But the truly unique aspect of this line is the “crossover concept”. Here we have a line that functions as stand-alone fashion, high performance fitness wear, or both.
Convenience is what simplifies a woman’s life. Being able to go to work looking fashionable with heels, jewelry and accessories is one thing. But doing it with a backpack with tennis shoes to change into, followed by a full workout without changing or lugging a bunch of clothes around is what the “crossover concept” is all about. Is this the wave of the future? Is the pendulum swinging back away from the slouchy sweat-pant look to a more stylish line of fitness wear with a duality of function? Is this fitness or fashion? You decide.
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.