Design-led activewear brands for a spring refresh

Activewear brands for feeling and looking your best this spring, whether you’re perfecting your posture or beating your personal best

Woman in activewear by Loewe on On on colourful background
Best activewear: Loewe x On
(Image credit: Photography by Gray Sorrenti, courtesy of On/Loewe)

Whether you’re aiming to perfect your pilates, set a new speed record at spin, or simply pounding the pavement, hit refresh on your workout routine this spring with an array Wallpaper* approved activewear brands, which place good design front and centre.

From the Swiss precision of On to Soar Running’s first foray into womenswear created alongside Central Saint Martins graduate Johanna Parv, design-led activewear brands to invest in this spring.

The best design-conscious activewear brands

On (top)

Switzerland-based On – one of the world’s fastest-growing sportswear brands – is best known for its honeycomb-soled sneakers, which promise the feeling of ‘running on clouds’ (the technology is used by some of the world’s best runners, while its recent foray into tennis – Roger Federer is an investor – has seen On sign women’s world number one Iga Swiatek). The brand also has an extensive collection of performance wear, made with the same technological innovation as its footwear – from moisture-wicking, ultralight and insulated fabrics to cuts designed for the body in movement. ‘High performance meets high aesthetics,’ says the brand, which has also recently collaborated with luxury Spanish house Loewe on a number of collections featuring both footwear and clothing. 

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Soar Running

Woman running in Soar shorts and vest

Soar women’s collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Soar)

Soar Running was founded in 2015 by Tim Soar, a designer and avid runner, promising an array of activewear which combines ‘textile innovation, pioneering design technology, sports science, fashion design, and the real-world experiences of runners’. Beginning as a menswear label, Soar has recently introduced a new collection which takes the brand’s innovative approach and applies it to the unique physiology of women’s bodies. Design features include laser-cut seams, functional pockets for phones and energy gels, as well as an array of bold colourways, worked on alongside Johanna Parv (the Central Saint Martins graduate recently became part of talent incubator Fashion East).

‘I am so pleased to launch a women’s collection at Soar Running. Although many of the functional requirements are the same for men’s and women’s running garments, there is also much that is not,’ says Soar. ‘Addressing those differences, alongside designer Johanna Parv, has been a fascinating experience. Truly functional performance clothing always has a beauty that is born from clarity of purpose and the rightness of the fabric, the cut and the details. That, I think, is true of all Soar garments, regardless of who runs in them.’

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Best activewear Gauge 81 white tracksuit

Gauge81 activewear collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Gauge81)

The Amsterdam-based label Gauge81 brings its high-octane attitude to the realm of activewear. Exhibiting the same bold silhouettes and confident energy as its ready-to-wear line, Gauge81’s spin on fitness wear teams athletic grade knitted fabrics with an edgy, sports-inflected glamour. Bras and tops feature angular cut-outs, while boasting supportive compression, breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities. With 50 per cent of yarn coming from certified organic or GOTS materials and recycled polyester and polyamide featuring significantly in the remainder, the line of leggings, bodysuits, tops and hoodies is good for all the right reasons. As the label’s founder Monika Silva says: ‘All our pieces were designed with versatility in mind. We want to stand for health and fitness and connect with our customers during one of the most important times of their day: self-care.’ Writer: Pei-Ru Keh

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Man in Satisfy activewear outfit

Satisfy ‘Trailblazer’ capsule collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Satisfy)

Satisfy was founded in 2015 by Brice Partouche, who grew up in the French Alps. Skateboarding, punk rock, straight-edge living, and ‘the social aspects of revolutions and youth movements’ all played into the formation of the fledgling brand (‘I grew up going to flea markets with my dad, which is where I got my knowledge of vintage clothing and fabrics,’ he once said). Formed in honour of the 1970s movement which lent on running as a means of escape, clean-living Partouche only started running himself in 2014, on a whim to ‘reinvent himself.’ He set about building a brand that aligned with his curiosity for culture, design expertise and desire for great fabrics and savoir-faire. Satisfy textiles are developed in France, Switzerland, Italy and Japan, with all pieces produced in Europe for quality and sustainability purposes, which all new prototypes are designed in the creative studio in Paris. Devotees will know the running shorts well: designed with signature proprietary ‘Justice’ lining – made by an experienced French silk-maker and inspired by medical bandaging – they are the lightest and fastest drying in the industry. Recent releases are the new ‘GhostFleece’ balaclavas, waterproof ’SilverShell’ packable windbreaker and ‘PeaceShell’ pants constructed from lightweight Ecorepel Bio soft-shell, a Swiss fabric which imitates plants’ natural protection with the aid of a high-performance, permanently odourless high-tech finish. Writer: Tilly Macalister-Smith

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Woman working out in Athleta activewear

(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

Athleta’s stealthy, unbranded aesthetic has made it the everyday go-to for countless American women wanting performance wear that doesn’t overstate itself with logos and flashy colours. That’s thanks in part to Ebru Ercon, vice president of design, who joined the brand in 2021 and has built a career on making technical apparel cool (the Brit is a veteran of performance design and previously clocked time as Adidas’ head of design for statement and style working on special projects including its Y3 collaboration). While many pieces work double-time as athleisure, the performance of each style is paramount: even Olympian sprinter Allyson Felix has put her name to it. Perhaps most impressively, Athleta was certified B-Corp in 2018, meaning it operates responsibly across the business. And then there’s AthletaWell: a free online resource for women run by professionals to give support for mental health, physical health, and general wellbeing. The company is plugging real resources into this community-led platform, proving fitness is about a lot more than the sneakers you wear. TMS

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Woman in Lido Lido windbreaker activewear

Lido Lido cropped windbreaker

(Image credit: Courtesy of Lido Lido)

Daria Stankiewicz – founder of Venice-based swimwear label Lido – looks to a range of artists for inspiration, from Ellsworth Kelly to Donald Judd. ‘Most of my research into colour comes from contemporary art,’ she explains of her pieces, which feature long-sleeved tops, leggings and sports bras in vivid hues of burnt orange, turquoise and petrol blue. ‘After being limited to my apartment I felt the urge to move,’ Stankiewicz says of the inspiration behind the line, making function key (Lido’s leggings feature pockets for keys and coins). ‘I  always stop at a café to have a coffee and respond to emails before I run,’ she says. When pressed about a stylish sporting icon, she muses, ‘does Princess Diana count?’ Writer: Laura Hawkins

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Marine Serre

Activewear in moon crescent print by Marine Serre

Marine Serre activewear

(Image credit: Courtesy of Marine Serre)

With their sportswear-inflected shapes, protective references and end-of-the-world armour inspiration, Marin Serre’s silhouettes are designed to shield us from the elements. So it's natural that the Parisian designer’s range of activewear silhouettes are made to safeguard us when we're working out. The brand’s cycling-inspired shapes have been crafted in eco-aware fabrications, like GRS and OEKO-TEX® certified jerseys of varying weights, suitable for sporting on a bike or stretching out on a yoga mat. What’s more, the designs have been accented with the brand’s signature optic moon crescent motif, bringing a celestial spin to sportswear. LH

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Anine Bing

Activewear brands Anine Bing

Anine Bing ‘Sports’ collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Anine Bing)

Scandinavian simplicity and American energy define LA-based label Anine Bing – two tenets which its founder has incorporated into the label’s ‘Sport’ collection. The offering of sporty separates includes logo-emblazoned sweats and moisture-wicking sports bras and leggings which are designed to be styled with off-duty wardrobe staples, including shirting and blazers. An additional essential for your overhauled activewear? Bing also offers a stainless steel thermal bottle with copper vacuum insulation, for instant hydration with a side of chic. LH

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Woman in prism activewear sat on a chair


(Image credit: Courtesy of Prism)

If anything’s going get us moving during this spring and summer, it’s London-based accessories and swimwear label Prism. The brand’s offering of seamless separates are multifunctional, and can be worn to work out, swim or simply lounge around. Chlorine-and-heat-resistant, quick-dry, stretchy and supportive, the 3D-knitted pieces – which originally launched in 2021 – are now available in a range of new tones, including olive, dusty pink and slate grey, and include crop tops, leggings, racer-back vests and spaghetti strap one-pieces (sizes range from UK 6-20). Going for your morning stroll or settling down to stretch has never looked (or felt) so good.

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Live The Process

Woman in activewear by Live the Process against background

Live the Process

(Image credit: Courtesy of Live the Process)

In 2010, fashion PR Robyn Berkley took a year out from the mania of Manhattan, swapping its bustling streets for the beaches of Bali, where she trained as a yoga practitioner. There, inspired by her training as a dancer and gymnast, and her fascination with performance wear which was technical, but also bridged the gap between gym gear and a wardrobe staple, Berkley conceived the activewear label Live The Process. ‘There was nothing celebrating elegance and femininity,’ Berkley says of the aesthetic of the brand, co-founded with Jared Vere. Its first off-duty ballet dancer-inspired collection featured bodysuits and high-waisted leggings, in breathable, moisture-wicking, durable and body moulding fabrics that took two years to develop. Every piece is made in America.

For bold balletic style, think knitted crop tops, cut-out leotards and skinny flared trousers, layered with balletic ribbed cardigans and A-line skirts in retro, colour-blocked hues of claret, cream and tan. ‘We focused on the concept of radiant gems,’ Berkley explains of the tones. ‘Ruby is symbolic of nobility and divine creativity… “Tigers Eye”, our accent colour, increases vitality’. Machine washable knitwear provides exercisers with post-workout warmers and high-performing seamless styles are 3D printed. ‘It was nine years ago when I closed my eyes during meditation in Bali wondering what to do next,’ Berkley enthuses. ‘And here we are today!’ LH

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Woman in Nagnata activewear on colourful background

Nagnata ‘Movement 12’ collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Nagnata)

‘My moodboard is an ongoing myriad of vintage fabric swatches and wool knit swimsuits from the 1920s through to the 60s like Rudi Gernreich pieces, mixed in with 90s fashion campaigns from Jil Sander and Alaïa to Sports Illustrated covers,’ says Laura-May Gibbs, co-founder of Australian activewear label Nagnata.

Gibbs and her sister Laura launched their sustainability-focused knitwear-focused label in 2017. Its core seamless collection is constructed from super-fine wool and tencel blend, using Australian merino – a natural, biodegradable and renewable fibre. ‘People don’t necessarily associate merino wool with sports but if you use the yarn in the right way it is incredible,’ Gibbs explains. The brand also adopt a zero-yarn waste approach, where pieces are constructed to shape using a flat-bed knitted technique, which eliminates excess fabric wastage. ‘It’s important to keep synthetics away from your skin, especially in your yoga or sports practice when your pores are wide open,’ Gibbs says. 

‘Our brand concept is based around studio-to-street style,’ she adds of the label’s sometimes sensual silhouettes. ‘Growing up I would go from yoga in the morning to work, then the beach for a swim after work and out for dinner, all without going home to dress.’ LH

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Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.