If wearing yoga pants outside of the studio or gym is a fashion faux pas, the Tencel and Lycra-clad masses in Vancouver don’t care.
With sales of activewear on the rise, many in Vancouver are unapologetically embracing the trend.
“It’s comfortable, easy to wash, you can do your workouts, then head out and get your groceries,” said Karen Lam, reeling off the reasons why she loves her yoga pants. “Because I’m a mom, I’m all about comfort and time. It takes time to put looks together, and I like something easy.
“I feel good when I wear them, and I still think I look good.”
Lam is the production manager for Burnaby-based activewear outfitter Tonic, so she may live in yoga-wear more than the average person. But she’s not alone. In Vancouver, activewear has long spilled over from studios to the street, ubiquitously paired with trendy jackets and fancy footwear. Yoga pants also come in many styles and colours.
From its roots as a hot yoga-wear manufacturer, Tonic has expanded its offerings to include a “lifestyle collection,” which features acres-yoga clothing made of soft cotton or bamboo jersey that people can wear beyond the studio, said Lam.
“It’s all about taking fashion elements so people are interested in wearing it on the street and not just the gym,” she said.
U.S. market research firm NDP described the increasing penchant for activewear as a consumer-driven trend, prompted by people’s overriding desire for comfort and function.
Yoga-wear giant and trailblazer Lululemon’s sales have increased more than 50 per cent in its last two fiscal years to $1.6 billion US.
Many retailers have also expanded into the fast-growing niche. In 2008, The Gap acquired activewear brand Athleta, while Swedish chain H&M launched H&M Sport last year after successfully garbing Sweden’s Olympic team for the 2014 Winter Games.
Even haute fashion houses are getting in on the action, with couture hoodies and cashmere track pants gracing the runways.
One of the casualties of the yoga-pant craze may be the go-to staples of decades past: Jeans.
Last year, sales of jeans fell six per cent after years of steady growth, said NPD in a report last fall. In comparison, sales of activewear increased by seven per cent to $33.6 billion US, occupying a 16-per-cent share of the total apparel market.
Women’s activewear alone hauled in about $11.5 billion in sales in 2013 in the U.S., a nine-per-cent jump from 2012.
The numbers don’t surprise Emma Hogan, 24. She only has two to three pairs of jeans, but seven yoga pants that she wears everywhere, except work (she is a flight attendant), and fancy restaurants.
Aside from being comfortable, yoga pants are also flattering, she points out. “They’re (high-waisted) and are raised up over my little pooch,” she said. “Even if you gain a couple pounds you can still fit into them.”
Chloe Logan also wears her yoga pants “every single day.” She has about a dozen in her closet, and doesn’t bat an eyelid wearing them as she runs errands and meets up with friends.
“It’s so popular here ... it’s not so much a faux pas anymore. Maybe it was a few years ago,” she said.