While certainly not a new term, ath-leisure is currently creating a buzz around our industry. Blame it on Karl Lagerfeld’s decision to let his models grocery shop in sneakers, or the rapid growth happening in the $32.7 billion activewear industry, ath-leisure is a trend we cannot ignore.

The result is activewear blending into sportswear.  At this point you might be asking yourself, isn’t sportswear and activewear the same thing?  By the nature of the name, sportswear, we find many of our clients get a bit confused.  Today we wanted to define these fashion terms so we can move forward and help your brand embrace the trend in a way that fits your customer.


Sportswear’s definition has changed a bit throughout the last 100 years, but since about the 1930’s it has been used to describe casual clothing for both day and evening. Garments suitable for business or social engagements. It has been said, that Sportswear is the United States contribution to the history of fashion.

Activewear is defined as “clothing designed to be worn for sports, exercise and outdoor activities”.  So this would include yoga pants, clothes you wear to the gym, sports uniforms, etc. Activewear tends to be designed to be light-weight and often form-fitting, as to help you move easier.

Activewear options for women have dramatically increased over the last decade, and expanded to more than just including a pink option for women. Today, even high-end designers will work with athletic apparel brands to create active wear collections, such as Stella McCartney for Adidas.

We believe the convergence is partially sparked by these brands with our busy lives likely being the biggest culprit.  What started as yoga pants while running errands has morphed into a full blown ath-leisure trend.


As you can see, the variations on this trend run from high end dresses emblazoned with jersey style graphics to pairings from either category.

Now that you know the difference between sportswear and activewear you can start to think about how this ath-leisure trend applies to your customer base. Be sure to keep checking our blog for more in-the-know fashion terms and trends!!