In the know with fashion TikTok
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
This week’s TikTok trend is athleisure—a hybrid of athletic leisurewear not limited to the confines of gyms. Even though athleisure encompasses a variety of clothing articles such as sweatshirts, sweatpants, tracksuits, and runners, this article focuses on the infamous stretchy skin-tight leggings.
Prolonged time staying at home boosted the popularity of athleisure. Frankly, no one had the energy to wear a business casual outfit anymore; on TikTok #athleisure has over a billion views. The top short-form videos showcase skinny women and muscular men showcasing their gym outfits, often with affiliate links in their bios. The content also includes tips for comfortable yet classy styles and independent designers showcasing their athleisurewear lines.
Chemist Joseph Shivers invented Lycra (also known as spandex) in 1958; the synthetic fabric revolutionized the fashion world. I think athleisure first gained popularity in the ’80s with spandex bodysuits and leggings worn to aerobics classes. Women watched Jane Fonda’s workout video practicing rhythmic aerobics wearing purple leggings, a striped unitard, and matching legwarmers. She was the first influencer who inspired women in the ’80s to purchase their own workout set of leggings, legwarmers, and a unitard.
A decade before TikTok dictated fashion trends, onscreen style icon Blair Waldorf shared her opinion “[that] tights are not pants,” on season two of Gossip Girl. Merriam-Webster defines pants as a “garment covering each leg separately and usually extending from the waist to the ankle.” So clearly, leggings are pants. But from the perspective of Upper East Side aristocrat Blair Waldorf, leggings look tasteless and sloppy. Waldorf’s statement about leggings is steeped in classicism, as many people can’t afford Oscar de la Renta and Valentino.
Ironically back when Vancouver-based athleisure brand Lululemon popularized leggings in the early 2000s. The pants held social capital in schools. To be an it-girl, you had to own at least one pair. At $100, owning Lululemon’s meant you grew up in an upper-class household. To this day, Lululemon continues to be promoted by TikTok users anticipating their weekly Tuesday morning drop despite racist statements from founder Chip Wilson and unethical labour production. People on TikTok love the soft butterfly material and fit and often own more than one pair. For those unwilling to splurge $100 for leggings, TikTok users share their favourite dupes from Amazon at significantly cheaper price points with similar slick material.
Blair Waldorf would be shocked to see leggings worn by models on the high fashion runways of Chanel and YSL. Montreal-based luxury retailer SSENSE sells $1000 Barroca patterned Versace leggings that are reminiscent of something that multilevel-marketing brand Lularoe would have in their catalogue. On TikTok, Riverdale actress Madelaine Petsch advertises her line of booty-lifting leggings for e-commerce athleisure brand Fabletics. Seattle-based Girlfriend Collective sells size-inclusive and sustainable athleisure using recycled plastic bottles to make their leggings and sports bras. TikTok users showcase Girlfriend Collective hauls and ask the brand to sponsor them.
Working from home continues in 2021, as does swapping blazers for sweatshirts and slacks for leggings. Everyone is still burnt out and reluctant to put on a pair of jeans. If you are bored with your athletic wear, browse #atheleisure on TikTok for ideas on how to look good while working out at home. And remember that you don’t need to look like a model to wear leggings. If you want to upcycle some fun leggings, why not tie-dye them, which brings us to the topic of next week: ’60s fashion and how it’s making a resurgence through TikTok.