The Observer, Sunday 25 January 2015
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Clockwise from left: Dress, £210, Laain at netaporter.com, Model wears Alexander Wangspring/summer 2015, Distance Gfast pants, £34.95, GapFit gap.co.uk, Suki Saki top, £95, sukishufu.com, Run faster zip-through £49, boden.co.uk, Astro running shoe,£980, Miu Miu at store.miumiu.com Photograph: PR Handout
So here’s the thing. I love clothes but, like many people, I’m slightly dysfunctional about them. These are my main idiosyncrasies: if I really love a piece of clothing I hardly ever wear it, just in case I ruin it. If possible I buy things a size too big on the off-chance that I might suddenly put on weight. I think I have massive shoulders and ugly clavicles so I never buy anything that exposes or even emphasises them. With these hang-ups, the only clothing that consistently defeats me is sportswear.
This is a problem, because sportswear is so trendy now that new, stupid words have been made up to describe it. The most annoying of these is athleisure: the vogue for wearing gym clothes – yoga pants, running tops – in everyday life. It also encompasses the rise of a number of new labels that make great clothing that sort of looks like sportswear but is really just fashion.
All the designers, including Chanel and Miu Miu, have had a go at doing trainers, and the spring catwalks at Alexander Wang and Topshop Unique featured lots of interesting little tennis dresses among other sports-inspired pieces. And let’s not forget the high street. Everywhere from H&M to Boden offers activewear ranges now, and Net-a-Porter recently diversified into Net-a-Sporter – a section dedicated to “performancewear”. The actual sportswear brands have also upped their game. Adidas Originals’ collaborations with designers have gone from strength to strength: the recent range with Mary Katranzou is just lovely.
Sportswear. It’s everywhere. And it looks rubbish when you buy it a size too big. Still, if you don’t hate your shoulders and are capable of wearing clothes you like, I’d recommend this trend. It’s comfortable, and the clothes’ functional shapes, which typically comes in strong colours or interesting graphic patterns, look smart and snappy.
Of the newer labels that are sort of sportswear, sort of not, Laain excels in classic clothes in luxury fabrics. Check it out at Net-a-Sporter. It does have a great minimalist illusion of functionality about it, but it’s not cheap. SukiShufu is bright and shiny and very well cut. I particularly like the silver details on their long-sleeved tops.
On the high street, GapFit is good. The range is split into fitness and studio, and fitness clothes are actually made from technical performance fabrics. Friends of mine who run heartily recommend it. And well done to Boden for its sportswear. Performance clothes feel so at odds with Boden’s middle-England values, but the range is functional and really pretty.
My favourite part of the sportswear trend is the designer trainer. Yes, yes, I know it’s a few seasons since Chanel sent trainers down the catwalk at couture, but there’s still a lot of them about. I’m so tickled by these baroque follies, the diamonds, the sequins, the flowers and the satin. This latest version by Miu Miu is a hand-embroidered running shoe that costs nearly £1,000. I wish I could afford it. Oh. Though I like it so much I’d probably never wear it. Dammit. This fashion game is harder than it looks.
Follow Alice on Instagram @aliceefisher
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