In the never ending cultural war between Sydney and Melbourne, the Harbour City’s commercial fashion industry may cast a long shadow, but it is Melbourne which is leading the way with edgy and innovative fashion designers, bloggers and style pros.
Something not necessarily new, but actually seems to be growing on the streets of Melbourne is a trend of ‘Athleisure wear’.
According to dictionary.com, Athleisure is “a style of clothing worn as athletic apparel but also suitable for casual, everyday wear”, so this means whether you exercise or not you can still get away with wearing hoodies, sports bras and stretchy pants in everyday life because you’re in ‘fash-un’.
We’re seeing this amongst the city dwellers of the CBD and on the uber hipsters of Fitzroy. More and and more Melbournians are going for the ‘just got out of the gym’ look. Even if you are just doing it out of pure comfort (or maybe you do actually go to the gym), if you’re rocking a hoodie and some Nike kicks, you’re trendy.
We may have Giambattista Valli to thank for that, who paired beautiful silk tops with Nike leggings in their A/W 17/18 collection. It basically says ‘yeah you can wear leggings to a fancy rooftop bar for $20 Mojitos’. Only with heels though.
And Giambattista Valli wasn’t the only brand this season who incorporated some kind of sportswear vibes into their A/W collections. Max Mara was a bit more subtle with ultra- luxury fur and leather hoodies. Marcclo Buron Country of Milan collaborated with Kappa for a collection that was all tracksuits, puffer jackets and caps.
And then we have Chanel, who literally saw the models wearing something that replicated the silver blanket you throw on a runner at the end of a marathon . Yes, this collection was a clear nod to the space age but the hoodies, sweatbands and drawstring gym bags definitely gave off a sporty vibe.
Big brands like Adidas and Nike are always going be to be streetwear and sportswear staples but we’re seeing a revival of nineties sportswear brands like Fila, Reebok, Kappa and Champion.
Melbourne stylist Carlos Mangubat said that these brands are emerging again because of the wave of the nineties and noughties trends that we’re seeing on the runway and on the streets.
“Clever marketers know how to play on nostalgia. It’s about the positive associations we have with the product”.
This is evident with the Aussie High Street brand Factorie collaborating with Fila as of late last year.
Glue is also stocking Adidas Originals while Hype are selling Reebok Classics.
He also said that this sort of trend in Melbourne is to with retail.
“International brands coming here like Zara, H&M and Topshop means kids can now buy the trends but at a price point that they can afford. At whatever price point you can get an item that reflects the trend”.
In April a UK sports store JD Sports opened in Melbourne Central fully equipped for all of the cool kids and their athleisure needs.
JD stocks brands such as Nike, Adidas Originals, Puma, Ellesse, Fila and Reebok. Although the store is traditionally for those looking for their soccer boots, this one is all about the FASH-UN.
It’s immediately obvious when walking into the store, the visual merchandising screams athletic street wear. And there are huge sections devoted to the more the stylish stuff as opposed to the practical.
Other than the retail market, Mangubat also pointed out that social media has a lot to do with it.
An example of the power of social media influence is Hailey Baldwin. The model and Instagram it girl was spotted in a New York last month wearing a baby blue Kappa tracksuit, which we can imagine has had a great impact on youth and street wear. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Instagram generation celebrities ‘sporting’ (get it ha ha ha ha) old school athletic brands. Kendall Jenner in Fila and Selena Gomez in Champion are just a few.
And Melbourne designers also seem to be, right on track . It’s not just the sporty styles that are being used for fashion but also the fabrics.
This year Melbourne based design house Pageant showcased at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week with a collection that featured a mix of sporty styles and fabrics. Cycling shorts and hoodies were used as well as fabrics like mesh and jersey running (ah another one) through.
Witu is another Melbourne brand with a strong sportswear vibe. The bags are structured and robust and made up of a neoprene fabric. More commonly neoprene is used for aquatics. It’s a breathable, waterproof and insulated fabric making it perfect for wetsuits to protect divers or surfers against cold waters.
Witu also recently introduced a visor to its collection, which in sporting terms were traditionally used for outdoor sports to protect from the sun such as golf, tennis or volleyball.
Although Melbourne may be know as the ‘Paris of the Southern hemisphere’, the relaxed Aussie vibes still live strong so that could be partly why sportswear is still so popular here. It’s not only about comfort but also nostalgia. And with that follows the trend constantly making it’s way back into designer collections. Which in the circle of fashion will bring us back to the high street and street style. And if you see anyone wearing leggings while having dinner at Attica you know who to thank.