Best women’s activewear brands for a winning style streak
Activewear brands for feeling and looking good in, whether you’re perfecting your posture or beating your personal best
Amp up your activewear now.
Maje x Varley
The looming winter months might have you just wishing for uninterrupted snuggle time on the sofa, but there’s still much physical and mental merit in getting your heart rate rising. We’re getting workout inspiration from a new collaboration between Maje and Varley on a Flashdance-inspired collection of activewear pieces that have an energetic Eighties-focused flair. Whether your perfecting a dramatic dance routine or simply stretching your sinewy muscles, we recommend sporting these animal print-swathed and sugar toned pieces, which range from leopard print bodysuits to lilac loungewear.
Earlier this spring, Reformation – a brand that has has long flexed its eco-aware credentials – launched its first activewear collection, a range from the Los Angeles label which features bralettes, leggings and biker shorts. Now, the brand has launched two new printed iterations of its performance pieces in romantic floral porcelain and inner animal cheetah, crafted using EcoMove and EcoStretch, two fabrics suitable for high energy and low impact workouts, that use Repreve, a fiber formed from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Repreve fabrics are also 100% traceable through every part of their supply chain, from raw material to finished goods. What’s more, producing the fabric uses 45% less energy, 20% less water, and 30% less GHG Emissions than virgin polyester, a common material used in activewear.
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 has released a range of activewear silhouettes that will 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.
Scandinavian simplicity and American energy define LA-based label Anine Bing - two tenets which its founder has incorporated into the label’s first activewear 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 active wear? Bing also offers a stainless steel thermal bottle with copper vacuum insulation, for instant hydration with a side of chic.
It’s fitting that the work of British print designer Ed Curtis has been picked up by a fitness brand; after all, he works in a physical and active way. ‘My work is process-based and manual, created without any technology involved,’ he explains. Curtis’ hands-on approach has most recently been applied to a line of active wear by Lululemon: sweat-wicking high rise leggings, sports bras, running shorts and accessories, including a printed towel, scrunchie and reversible bucket hat, feature his energetic graphics. Curtis custom developed a print that gave the appearance of speed by applying paint to paper with rapidity, resulting in a motion-blurred kaleidoscope of blue, pink and yellow. Dynamic black and grey zigzags, plus cerise and black marbling also feature. Catch them if you can.
If anything’s going get us moving during the summer season, it’s London-based accessories and swimwear label Prism’s Prism² collection. 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 last year – 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. Going for your morning stroll or settling down to stretch has never looked (or felt) so good.
Daria Stankiewicz, founder of Venice-based swimwear label Lido - looks to a range of artists for inspiration, from Ellsworth Kelly to Donald Judd. For the brand’s debut activewear collection, Stankiewicz looked to the hues present in the work of Franz Erhard Walther. ‘Most of my research into colour comes from contemporary art,’ she explains. The collection features long sleeve tops, leggings and sports bras in burnt orange, pops of turquoise and petrol blue. ‘After being limited to my apartment I felt the urge to move,’ Stankiewicz says of the inspiration behind the line. ‘Aside from running, which wasn’t always possible this year, I have learned to love exercising through online videos.’ For the designer, function is key, and 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?’
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!’
‘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. For its Movemenet 004 collection, this means retro cropped sweaters, cycle shorts and spaghetti strap dresses in knitted checks, textural plaids and houndstooth jacquards in tropic green, neon pink and high alert red.
Gibbs and her sister Laura launched their sustainability-focused knitwear-focused label in 2017. Its core seamless collection is constructed from a super fine wool and Tencel blend, using Australian Merino – a natural, biodegradable and renewable fiber. ‘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. For autumn Nagnata have developed an elastic and soft knit construction of superfine Merino Wool wrapped around a high-stretch filament yarn, where only natural fibres touch the skin. ‘Our brand concept is based around studio-to-street style,’ she adds of the label’s new sensual dress shape. ‘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.’