In the past few years, the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Business of Fashion, The Guardian, et al. have written about the phenomenal sales growth of the sports bra. Comfort has taken over cleavage.
These publications reported a movement that integrated exercise attire with daily activities. Beyond providing ease, the sports bra doubles as a fashionable crop top with support.
When lifestyle company Suyen Corp. unveiled Bench Active, the new brand for athleisure wear, at SM Megamall, Bench endorsers such as actress Max Collins and beauty queens Michelle Dee and Winwyn Marquez unzipped their sports jacket to nonchalantly expose their sports bras and toned abs. The sports bra and bralettes, which come in a variety of styles and colors, have been the store’s top sellers.
The brand launch, themed as a “postworkout sesh,” summoned Bench’s coterie of Gen Y and Z endorsers such as former Mr. Philippines JB Saliba in matching polo shirt and shorts and model Josh Barfuss in a tracksuit.
Athleisure clothing is often described as functional or performance wear that melds into street attire.
The Atlantic quoted fashion historian Deirdre Clemente as saying that athleisure is the climax of three trends. First, technological advancements have made synthetic fabrics such as spandex more comfortable, durable, easy-to-wash. The new generation of performance wear is odor-resistant and moisture-wicking.
Second, there’s the obsession with looking healthy and fit as a status symbol.
Third, yoga and other studio workout attire accepted as office wear reflect the slackening of dress codes.
“People want clothes that can make a transition from a workout or yoga class to brunch at Legazpi Sunday Market,” said Andrew Quicho, Bench’s digital marketing assistant who is also tasked to open Bench Active in the United States.
Walking his talk, he wore a tracksuit from the office to the social event which featured a deejay spinning to create an upbeat atmosphere and waiters serving salad canapés and yogurt smoothies.
“We divided the store depending on the activity—yoga, swimming, running, gym, basketball and jogging. But the clothing isn’t just limited to conventional active wear. It’s got everything that you put on—underwear (sports bras and seamless undies for women and compression shorts for men), workout gear to post workout and leisure wear. Whatever gets you through your daily active life,” said Quicho.
Depending on their sport, there are crop tops and loose pants for yoga, leggings and cycling shorts for spinning classes, tracksuits and compression pants for running, jogging pants and sweat shirts for the gym, board shorts for the beach and maillots for laps on the pool.
The clothes come with tags that indicate their qualities—lightweight, breathable, quick dry and reflective.
The men’s running shorts, made of polyester, are built with compression shorts for security.
“We inform customers of the materials and their functionality,” he said.
A variety of water bottles, head gear, gym bags and scents and personal care products complements the needs of consumers on the go.
“We’ve got dry shampoos in case you’re too busy to take a shower after a workout,” he said.
Cell phone holders with Velcro straps are attached to the arm.
“The fanny packs are popular with kids for their PKWs (phone, key, wallet),” said Quicho.
Bench Active also considers the urban warrior. Instead of an umbrella, a lightweight, waterproof jacket with a hoodie can be stashed in the bag and worn when there’s a sudden drizzle.
“We do basic stuff that is not boring,” said Quicho. Sleeveless zip-front shirts with kangaroo pockets, silver waterproof jackets and the bright colored, and colorful cotton T-shirts are as functional as they are stylish.
The brand has also joined the sneaker bandwagon. Shelves are lined with sports-inspired sneakers and performance trainers.
“Our tagline ‘Energize the everyday’ is not just limited to workout sessions. You can wear the clothes to the mall or on errands,” said Quicho. Pointing to the soft cotton T-shirts, lounging pants and shorts, he added, “You don’t have to work out to wear athleisure. We’ve got clothes for lazy moments.”—CONTRIBUTED