The New York TimesAnna P. Kambhampaty / The New York Timescomfort Pandemic Social media versatility sportswearWhatsAppFacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest
The tracksuit, for those conditioned to notice it, has become something like the Amazon coat: a cultural object that has become ubiquitous without us realizing it.“Just being able to go out feels like exercising,” said Arianna Gaujean, 18, as she browsed the discount section at Awoke Vintage in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was a scorching July afternoon and Gaujean, a student at St. Francis College, was wearing a short black dress with a racerback (a typical sportswear neckline), the ideal garment, in her words, to do practically anything. thing on a hot day.
In under-35 parlance, this is called an “athletic dress,” an all-in-one item of clothing you may have seen making the rounds on your social media feeds, depending on your internet browsing habits, with ads touting its comfort (! super-flexible spandex and nylon!), versatility ('shorts' included!), and a flattering silhouette for all figures (who doesn't love an A-line dress?).
One of the most popular versions was launched by Outdoor Voices, an 'athleisure' clothing brand, in 2018, and this year they updated it with pockets, adjustable straps and elasticated 'shorts' to hug the thigh. Many more companies, including Reformation, Nike, Girlfriend Collective, and Halara (a brand apparently built around the garment), sell their own versions, most of which are marketed aggressively on Instagram and TikTok.
Compared to last year, sportswear sales have nearly doubled, according to data from the NPD Group, a market research firm. In turn, the sportswear, for those who are conditioned to notice it, has become something like the Amazon coat: a cultural object that has become ubiquitous without our realizing it.
In fact, over a two-week period in mid-July, not a day went by that this reporter didn't see someone wearing it. Dresses were everywhere: on the dance floor at a Chinatown rooftop party, at the Greenpoint Laundromat, cruising the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
“In pre-pandemic times, I might not have bought the dress. But now we wear 'athleisure' clothes all the time, it just feels more acceptable to have this on all the time," said Amanda Hayes, 27, who works in marketing, wearing a lilac Outdoor Voices dress at a picnic in Washington. Square Park.
A growing distaste for pure sportswear may be partly responsible for the garment's popularity. "People are sick of just wearing leggings and sweatshirts," said Jaehee Jung, a fashion psychologist and professor at the University of Delaware, adding that boredom tends to drive many consumer trends.
Ease and versatility are also big selling points. “I love the simplicity of a dress, just having to think of one item of clothing,” said Michaela Brew, 25, who lives in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan and works in real estate banking. "I love how easy it is to just put it on."
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People also want to be able to dress for any occasion, all in one. "Several times I've put on my tracksuit and gone to school and then been invited to play a game of 'spikeball,'" said Zoee D'Costa, 24, a medical student at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, from the State University of New Jersey. "It's nice to be able to combine things that make me look and feel good with something that's also functional."
Several people were hesitant to wear the dress for fitness training or exercise. “I don't really use it for real exercise,” said Brianne Sabino, 27, who works in communications and was at the picnic with Hayes. "I wouldn't go running in this dress."
"I wish it had something bra-like, even if it was just one seam, maybe removable padding because it doesn't offer any support and then it's hard to do intense exercise without wearing a sports bra," said Brew, who wears Outdoor Voices dresses. "I also wish there was a flap or some kind of attachment for the shorts so I don't have to take the whole dress off when I go to the bathroom."
“It tries to be a workout outfit, but everyone's little secret is that no one actually works out in it,” admitted Christina Nastos, 24, who lives in Chelsea and is an account manager for Peerless Clothing.
Well, maybe not everyone. Sarah Moser, 35, who lives in Sunnyside, Queens, and works in human resources, recently wore a navy blue Outdoor Voices tracksuit on the Route 7 train as she headed out for a run. "It's my go-to running outfit in the hot months," she said. She bought her first one before a half marathon. Now, Moser has a dozen different colors and designs of the blissful garment.
She is not the only one who has so many of the same dresses. On Reddit, one user posted a photo of her “athletic dress collection,” which included about 20 different colors and prints. Brew and Gaujean have three each.
And while the majority of people who wear these dresses tend to be Gen Z and millennials, advertising for these dresses emphasizes that they are for everyone. In a sponsored TikTok post of Halara's dress, for example, an older woman says her dress makes her feel "30 years younger."
"The impact of social media is undeniable for fashion and trend companies," said Jung. "It seems that everyone is on something, at the same time, wherever and whenever."WhatsAppFacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest0 comments