Athleisure. What is it exactly? As a term, it’s become so ubiquitous that this year it’s been included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. “Casual clothing to be worn for exercising and for general use,” says the entry. But do people really want to wear their sweaty gym clothes to brunch? And where do “sportswear” and “activewear” sit in all this?

It seems that even those in the industry are a bit mystified. “In all honesty, I really dislike the term ‘athleisure’ – it just bugs me,” says fitness blogger Cat Meffan. “But there’s no denying more and more people are wearing sportswear to go to the shops, for brunch or even a night out. It turns out that we all just want to be comfortable and look good, which is what this style of clothing allows.”

This is the tricky bit. Athleisure clothes are often described as stylish sporty clothing you can wear inside and outside the gym. But brands already have distinct terms for gym clothes that are more performance-based (activewear), and comfy, sporty clothes for leisure (leisurewear). As for sportswear, well, at least in fashion lingo, the term refers to the casual, relaxed style of ready-to-wear separates by American designers that became popular during the 1930s and 1940s.

And so, athleisure has become a vague, all-encompassing word to describe these rather different and distinct concepts. But the things that almost all “athleisure” labels stress in their clothes are comfort, function and style. “Athleisure labels combine the technicality of sportswear with fashionability – in terms of print, shape and fabrication,” says Lydia King, who was the buying manager for Selfridges’ new The Body Studio, a massive emporium dedicated to bodywear. Fitness blogger Zanna van Dijk points to our increasingly healthier lifestyle as a key reason behind the athleisure trend. “The whole health and fitness industry is growing rapidly, which is resulting in a boom in the athleisure market too. I can only see this developing further,” she says.

It was when leggings and yoga gear started popping up outside the gym that people first started noticing this trend (think back to when mums in yoga clothing at the school gates was a “thing”). And it didn’t take long before brands caught on. Now, everyone from Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch, to Net-a-Porter and Gap feature their own range of athleisure clothes – not to mention Beyonce’s Ivy Park and Rihanna’s Fenty for Puma collection. It’s now a – wait for it – £66.5 billion market.

We say, never mind the jumble of names and just embrace it as a concept – one that puts equal emphasis on comfort and function as well as style, and highlights our increasing infatuation with health and wellness. Below, some of our favourite fitness bloggers and experts pick their top athleisure buys for this spring.

Cat Meffan  

Fitness blogger/jewellery designer

Even though Dharma Bumsprints are colourful and bright, I still think they take me perfectly from yoga to brunch. The high-waisted fit of their leggings means that I can tuck in a cool, loose vest to give it a more relaxed feel. 

I love many brands for trainers, but if I ever had to pick just one, it would always be Nike. Whether I'm wearing my fresh, white court trainers for meetings, Flyknits to train in or Air Max for a day out, I always know my feet are happy!

When it comes to luxury fitness that can be worn in the gym or on a night out, Charli Cohen has it covered. I love how sleek her collections always are and that she never falters on functionality when it comes to training. 

Lydia King

Selfridges’ Head of Fashion and Trading (former Buying Manager for Selfridges’ The Body Studio) 

Australian yoga-wear label, The Upside, is a UK exclusive at The Body Studio. The collection uses bold colours and prints that we love, whether worn for an energising workout or as weekend wear.

Michi is a really strong example of how versatile sportswear can be. The Canadian label’s Stealth bra is not only made from a moisture wick fabric perfect for any high intensity workout, but its bondage aesthetic lends itself well as a layering piece under a classic white tee or chunky knit.

Varley’s Rennie jersey top is the perfect post workout layering piece – especially if worn over their delectable snow lion-print Terri cropped top and matching legging. The brand combines Californian ease with London elegance, offering a really unique aesthetic.

Adrienne Herbert

Fitness blogger/personal trainer



I love the Vroom pants by Charli Cohen. I have them in black and they are perfect for both studio and street.

I'm lusting over the Nicce 'Blaze Bra'. Both simple and stylish, it's top of my summer wish list!

LNDR 'Street Shorts' are perfect for a casual cool look, styled with a pair of box fresh trainers. 

Zanna van Dijk

Fitness blogger/vlogger/trainer/model

The ZVD leggings (my collection of course!) are the perfect combination of comfort and style. The super high waist and thick material means they stand up through any testing workout.

The neckline on this Lurv crop top is super flattering and also secure as to avoid any slips.

This Lorna Jane bra is the perfect colour for spring summer and the back detailing is gorgeous.

This Onzie top is super versatile and takes you perfectly from the gym to brunch

Text by Jainnie Cho