Whether you treat the gym as a second home or dread working out, there’s no denying that the extra push you get from a chic workout ensemble can go a long way.
The market has always been saturated by sportswear giants who tout plenty of tech and innovations, but there’s more to the market than the cookie-cutter designs we so often see. Now that fitness has become a growing priority in (almost) everyone’s lives, there’s been a surge in cult women’s activewear brands, each offering a unique take on the essential wardrobe element.
Knowing all too well how fresh gear can perform motivational miracles, we’ve compiled a compilation of the best lesser-known women’s activewear brands to shop, because there’s nothing worst than pumping iron next to someone with the same outfit. All that’s left to do now is to focus on sweating in style.
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You might have come across Bandier during one of their many collaborations, but it’s really its in-house brand All Access that’s the real star of the show. The New York City-based activewear brand churns out minimal but eye-catching pieces, and those who can’t put a decent ensemble together to save their life will enjoy the option of pre-selected, tone-on-tone kits.
Instagram-worthy aesthetics aside, the pieces by All Access have been known to be durable, comfortable, and most importantly, being capable of hugging all the right places. For the uninitiated, the Center Stage leggings and Chorus Bra are two of its many best-sellers, so start building your own collection from there.
Drawing from Ernest Leoty’s heritage as a coveted couterier in 19th century Paris, this namesake label sees activewear that are designed with a Parisian sensibility and an unusual focus on couture details — an aesthetic you’d be hard pressed to find in many sports brands today. Many of the pieces today still take inspiration from his corsets — highly prized for their unrivalled comfort and ease of movement — and are elegant enough to be worn at both Barre class and afternoon tea.
As a female-owned and operated brand, it’s safe to say that Los Angeles-based Year of Ours understands exactly what women want in their gym gear. The boldly-hued pieces are inspired by sporty ‘90s styles and retro cycling apparel, so expect plenty of coordinating sets, lace-up details, and body-sculpting fabrics from this ethically-made label.
Established in 2018 by Parsons-trained designer and knitwear specialist Carolyn Jang, Nylora aims to bridge the gap between work and play by offering neither straight-up activewear nor ready-to-wear pieces. Instead, she upgrades classic performance wear such as tanks and tights with fashion-forward details and accents, creating pieces like the Marne tank which feel as good at the gym as they look on the street.
Less is more when it comes to this eco-friendly activewear brand. Formed by husband and wife duo Ellie and Quang Dinh — who wanted to offer luxurious but affordable and responsibly-produced activewear — the label utilises fabrics from recycled plastics to create high-performance leggings, sports bras and tops. Even the dyes used to achieve the fresh colourways are kind to the environment.
It’s hard to say no to serious activewear that’s also seriously gym-selfie-friendly. LA-based Splits59 makes performance wear that checks all the boxes for any serious fitness buff: Moisture-wicking technology, four-way stretch, and light compression. It also scores just as high on the aesthetics scale, with pieces that run the gamut from refined and minimalist to downright bold and fun.
Since its launch, The Upside has racked up A-list support from stars like Hailey Bieber, Kim Kardashian West, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, all of whom have flaunted the brand’s sprightly printed pieces on the streets. The Australian label incorporates its people’s laid-back vibes and bubbly persona into the athleisure line, creating sports bras, workout tees, and leggings that boast a close attention to detail and are easy to mix and match.