Recently, I quit my job to start a men’s athleisure clothing brand, Public Rec, focused on making comfortable and stylish clothes solely for men. For those less familiar, according to Hayley Peterson at Business Insider, “athleisure” is the industry term for “casual athletic clothing that can be worn outside the gym.” It’s something I’ve been studying for the last two years, and it’s why I left my job in finance three months ago.
I’d like to say it’s a new trend, but I just can’t with any credibility. For some time now, there has been well-documented growth in this niche of clothing.
As most fashion trends do, this one started with women and traces back to the rise in popularity of yoga and with it, yoga apparel — most notably leggings or yoga pants. As women started wearing their leggings outside of yoga it became a symbol for a more active lifestyle. Furthermore, as people have become more focused on living healthier lives, athleisure has been the apparel of choice.
There are a lot of contributing factors to the growth in athleisure. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. It’s functional. Even if you aren’t going to the gym, you like to feel like you are or did or can. The idea that one outfit can serve multiple purposes throughout the day (working out, running errands, lounging around) is a compelling proposition, especially as people become seemingly busier with more variability in their daily activities.
Even though this is something that has recently been on-trend, it’s been on my mind since college, six years ago. For me, it started with sweatpants. They never fit well and they never looked nice enough to wear confidently outside of the house. It didn’t make sense to me that jeans and dress pants were being sold in a waist and length sizing and sweatpants weren’t. How could both methods work? It became apparent to me that most brands just didn’t care to focus on sweatpants and the accompanying attire. It was a throwaway garment historically worn in the comfort of one’s home anyway, safely guarded from social judgement. No one else was offering sweatpants in a waist and length sizing, so why go through the hassle and increased inventory — an easy business decision.
Furthermore, as women both started this trend and tend to be bigger buyers of clothing in general, I think other brands in the market have focused their resources on appealing to the female customer. In turn, I think the male customer has been largely forgotten and there is an opportunity to build a brand focused solely on satisfying that male customer.
So, after spending my last six years in finance, I quit my job to try to do things differently and my company, Public Rec, is starting by upgrading your old, baggy sweats. Available in a waist and length sizing with a tailored fit, we’ve designed a pair of pants that guys can wear comfortably on the couch and confidently in the streets.
Call it what you want: athleisure, activewear, urban sportswear, it’s a trend that I think is here to stay and I’ve bet my career on it. Although, it’s good to know I’m not alone.
“Casual and ‘athleisure’ have taken on a life of their own,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group. “This is no longer a trend — it is now a lifestyle that is too comfortable, for consumers of all ages, for it to go away anytime soon.”