This beloved trend is here to stay for so many reasons. Whether it is in the streets of New York City during summer or the staple wardrobe of many students, activewear has become a fan favorite for all types of people.

With the vast improvements in activewear throughout time, it has reached a new level of comfort and performance. Sports bras are getting more innovative designs and fancier styles, while the sneaker game just keeps getting better.

What once was just for the gym has now reached a global phenomenon with multiple brands popping up left and right. But what exactly is activewear?

What is Activewear?

The traditional definition of activewear is simple, and you probably have an idea already. The Cambridge Dictionary defines activewear as “clothes that are worn for sports or other physical activities.”

However, with today’s generation of evolving fashion and changing trends, it is obvious that activewear has become much more than this simple and basic definition.

It has gone far beyond just sports and physical activities. Activewear can be worn indoors as you lounge at home. It can also be worn outside as a casual look for daily errands around the neighborhood.

What is the Purpose of Activewear?

The primary purpose of activewear is to be used when you are doing something active. It is primarily used for activities such as playing different sports and exercising at home or in your local gym.

Beyond this, activewear has been used for the purpose of comfort. With its comfortable nature mixed with the newer design elements, there has been a transition of it becoming used as casual wear and street looks.

It has become a leading choice of clothes for many women, especially those with busy routines who want to insert a quick workout between their days.

It is popular in big cities and still remains a stylish option that does not compromise your comfort.

woman doing yoga in activewear

What Kind of Fabric is Activewear?

It is safe to say that activewear definitely needs specific types of fabrics to be able to perform in the best way possible. It requires fabric that allows the person to do flexible movements with a wide range of motions and must be durable in different circumstances.

Activewear is usually made of fabrics with a 4-way stretch, which can be woven or knit. It is common for activewear to be made from different synthetic polyester blends.


Polyester has many components that make it a great option for activewear, from its durability and quick-drying properties.


Nylon is another popular option because of its impressively high stretchability. Spandex is similar with its high stretchability. Aside from this, it is also moisture-wicking and can hold its shape well over time.

However, with the advancement of the activewear industry, there are now options that are made of natural fibers.


One of them is bamboo. It has anti-odor qualities, is lightweight, and is soft to the touch.

It also provides UV sun protection, which is great for outdoor activities.


Cotton is another popular natural material because it is extremely light and airy.

It also does not hold a sweat odor, so it is perfect for heat and sweat. Generally, synthetic fabrics require chemical finishes for the best performance, making them less ideal for people with sensitive skin.

Opt for natural fibers with their already built-in qualities, though it is usually found at a more expensive price.

Qualities to Look for in Activewear

There are four important qualities that must ideally be present in activewear.


First, the fabric must contain moisture-wicking properties that allow you to stay cool even as you sweat from that heavy workout. Activewear is also usually lightweight because it allows better movement and is highly breathable.


Second, it must be comfortable. Whether it is a sports bra that is just way too tight or sneakers that are way too loose, these are hindrances that can be avoided with the use of the correct fabrics and materials.


Third, activewear must be durable. These clothes are meant to last you a long time, even with the amount of use placed into it. With the correct combination of materials, this can easily be attained.


Fourth, activewear must allow mobility. It is essential that these are made with fabrics that allow freedom of movement. Whether it is a high-intensity workout or a yoga stretching session, the activewear must be stretchy enough with no constrictions.

man stretching in activewear pants

Who Invented Activewear?

Fashion is all relative. It keeps evolving through time and for convenience. Activewear, which was also called sportswear at that time, got popular in the mid-’80s.

Activewear is such a fashion evolution that was solely meant for convenience and comfort. Initially, the activewear was more loosely fitted, almost pajama-looking, but through time the clothes got tailored, form-fitted, and stretchable.

This is to enable mobility and comfort. Activewear was always there even if it wasn’t coined. Lorna Jane Clarkson was the one who introduced the term activewear 33 years ago.

She is a fitness enthusiast and currently owns an activewear brand by her name. Activewear is something that keeps changing as there are new products and trends that keep releasing, for example, athleisure.

What is the Difference Between Activewear and Sportswear?

Activewear is clothes and items that are usually created from sustainable materials. It provides function, comfort, and even style. It can be used for exercising, but also can be worn as a transitional casual attire.

Items include hoodies, crew neck sweaters, and parkas. Activewear can be both sportswear and casual wear. On the other hand, sportswear is specifically designed for playing sports.

It is designed for a specific sport. For example, swim caps are considered sportswear for swimming. It is meant to be water-resistant and allows the hair to be away from the face.

Sportswear also can adjust to temperatures based on its materials and even technological advances. Unlike activewear, sportswear is meant to be functional, not necessarily stylish. Its material components and design cannot be easily edited.

How to Choose Activewear?

It can sometimes be difficult to choose the right activewear, especially when you are trying to save. But we should not sacrifice our comfort and potential with activewear that is not appropriate for the activities we choose to do.

First, you should note the type of exercises you do and how intense they may be. With this, you are able to know if you are in need of something with more stretch or maybe more breathability.

Since most users of activewear involve sweat and moisture, it is important to choose activewear that wicks away the heat and provides a cooling feeling.

It is preferred to try on the activewear before purchasing it to know if it suits your wants and needs. If you are purchasing it online, it is important to read the properties and sizing of the item as well as its customer feedback.

There are great health benefits to choosing the correct type of activewear. Wearing the right type can help maximize your performance as you work out. It can provide you with increased blood flow and oxygen as you work out.

Wearing the right type of sports bra can reduce breast pain, especially when it is skin-tight. It is essential to choose a sports bra with the right amount of support for your size and activity.

Example Types of Clothes that Are Activewear

Below are some examples of clothing items that are considered activewear.

Sports Bras

Sports bras are probably the most essential form of activewear for women. It is important to choose one with the right amount of support and moisture-wicking capabilities that is gentle to the skin.

This item is a tighter fit compared to your regular bra, but still allows a level of comfort.


Sports leggings are a popular option. They are often high-waisted and have full coverage. It is perfect for colder weather and tight-fitted like a second skin. It usually contains moisture-wicking properties and provides compression for additional support.

Running Shoes

Runner shoes are usually made of a breathable knit or mesh material. This ensures that sweat and moisture can be avoided, which can hinder one’s performance. It is important to wear the right shoes that are suitable for your activity.

Compression Socks

These are not just your ordinary socks. Compression socks allow blood circulation with the pressure it puts on your skin. It helps prevent soreness, fatigue, and swelling on the feet.

These have become highly popular in the activewear industry, especially for gym-goers and sports enthusiasts.