NEW YEAR, NEW ACTIVE
A New Year Brings Newness in Activewear
Activewear continues to grow following its nearly two-year upswing due to the movement toward comfortable clothing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. What was, at the time, a consumer trend that embraced easy pieces as many complied with stay-at-home orders has evolved into a new standard in fashion that welcomes activewear inspiration for workouts, going out and along designer runways. Throughout the United States and around the globe, activewear trends remain strong, and active brands are pushing forward with great momentum.
Taking responsibility in L.A. active
Launched in 2020, Cream Yoga is the brainchild of Los Angeles designer Tammy Tong. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Tong had designed with companies including Cult of Individuality, focusing on denim and knits over a 20-year career. Before emigrating from China to the United States many years ago, Tong spent childhood moments in her mother’s tailoring shop, watching clients joyfully leave the business with their new clothes. Despite working in different categories, Tong was enamored with activewear, always remaining updated on the latest trends.
“Deep in my heart, no matter where I worked, I always liked to follow the activewear brands, trends, materials—all the amazing designers I see and how the runway and trends are going more toward performance and functional kinds of product,” Tong said. “Fashion is not about clothes. It’s also about things around us happening in our world.”
One of the most important happenings in the world, according to Tong, is a focus on responsible apparel manufacturing. A yoga practitioner, Tong hopes to connect her clients with the happiness that an active lifestyle can afford, similar to the contentment she has found through her practice. With each collection, the designer hopes to include additional sustainable components within her brand. Currently the brand incorporates materials such as organic cotton and recycled nylon as well as responsible dyeing practices while also connecting with resources that are Global Organic Textile Standard certified.
“To create product is never just to build a nice look. It’s a lot of small things behind it and inside it, because when the process comes together people can tell and feel what you did. With activewear it’s even more important because the fabric is not just a fabric that will look good but also have a lot of functional [attributes],” Tong said. “With this process, I think how we build it shows our customer that we care about the planet and the environment.”
Available via creamyoga.com, Cream Yoga is sized XS–L and priced $28–$98.
Active representation on the East Coast
As a fitness advocate, launching an activewear brand was a natural step for Mbali Z. Ndlovu, who launched New York’s Lukafit in 2017 after finding success as a wellness and exercise leader. While Ndlovu and her fitness followers were committed to keeping their bodies healthy, they were unable to find activewear that would support their curves and a cohesive wellness community for women of color.
“Like me, most of the women I’ve met along my health journey want to get stronger, healthier and feel more confident,” Ndlovu said. “However, it’s tough to feel confident in workout clothes that don’t fit properly and that you constantly have to adjust. It’s frustrating to support brands that treat curvier women and women of color as tokens in their advertising—if we’re included at all. It’s difficult to stick to your health and fitness goals consistently when you’re going it alone.”
Leading with its Squat-Proof Leggings, Lukafit is shifting the conversation in activewear to a truly inclusive direction. The leggings and complementary bra designs promise to support the bodies of curvier women, while the brand remains committed to welcoming women of color into the fitness space.
“Our North Star is to continue creating activewear that makes our customers truly feel celebrated and prioritized,” Ndlovu explained. “At our core, we want to address deeper issues around beauty and body ideals. When it comes to body ‘goals,’ it’s incredibly important for us to see a diverse range of what ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ look like. We want to empower our customers of all shapes and sizes to truly embrace and feel confident in their bodies.”
This message is resonating with Lukafit’s clients and attracting additional attention as the brand gains recognition from the fitness community. According to the brand, its name is influenced by Ndlovu’s South African heritage and rooted in the Zulu word for sweat—juluka.
“Thankfully, this mission has deeply resonated with our customers, who are tired of feeling ignored and tokenized by bigger brands,” Ndlovu said. “They want to be celebrated, and they are ready to galvanize around brands that successfully pull this off. There has never been a better time for community-first brands!”
Lukafit can be found at lukafit.com. The brand is available in sizes S–3XL and priced $40–$64.
Innovative fitness pieces in Salt Lake City
A fitness enthusiast and follower of trending fashion, Emily Jackson was a wellness blogger and marathon runner until her third pregnancy relegated her to bed rest. Using this time wisely, Jackson examined how she could develop a women’s activewear line that performed to her high standards yet was also fashionable. This led to the launch of her Salt Lake City–based IVL in 2019.
“I really dove deep into trying to find these technical fabrics that you can find in men’s lines but not in women’s. I came across this Umorfil collagen fabric for IVL, and that is what we launched with. It’s really cool,” Jackson said. “Our fabric sets us apart, and we really try to be fashion forward. We study the runways, we look at WGSN—all the trend reporting—and we try to be ahead of what’s coming in fabrications and the styles that we do.”
The Hydralux fabric used by IVL comprises Umorifil N6U nylon, which features 37 percent nylon, 37 percent nylon Umorifil N6U and 26 percent spandex. IVL also features its Hydrasculpt fabric, which comprises Umorifil T, a blend of 37 percent polyester, 37 percent poly Umorifil T and 26 percent spandex. The collagen peptide amino acid is sourced from upcycled food waste that consists of aquaculture fish scale. Umorfil is known for its materials that afford a soft hand, color fastness, sun protection, washability, high water regain and are biodegradable.
“Trying to prevent environmental pollution, we really stand for using high-end fabrics that are great for sensitive skin. We’re doing all of that and trying to be eco friendly while having these fashion-forward styles. That is what IVL stands for. Our slogan is ‘technically fashion.’ Marrying the two, you don’t have to compromise. You can be fashion forward but also have these technical, really cool advanced fabrics.”
Thinking about the brand’s future and upcoming trends in activewear, Jackson foresees more technically advanced goods in vibrant hues with runway influences.
“It will really hang on our sustainable technical fabrics trying to come up with styles that are fashion forward,” said Jackson. “There are exciting colors coming and new styles.”
IVL strives to keep price points under $200, with the brand beginning at $68. It is sized 2–14 and is available at ivlcollective.com.
Australian active expansion into the U.S.
After the opening of a new facility for its Logan, Australia, headquarters, LSKD is already looking toward its next expansion project—a branch in Southern California to grow its United States presence. Founder Jason Daniel began his career as a motocross athlete, which included much focus on fitness. From Daniel’s original brand, LKI, which manufactured an array of sportswear products from 2007 to 2018, the company transitioned into LSKD—the founder’s nickname of “Loose Kid”—in September 2018 by refocusing on key products in functional sportswear that are influenced by streetwear.
Using its proprietary Rep fabric, which affords four-way stretch compression, LSKD offers high performance but also the soft characteristics the company wishes to bring to its clients.
“We wanted to get a buttery soft feel. For that we went with a poly-elastane blend,” Daniel said. “We spent over 12 months developing our raw material. We developed the Rep fabric, which is our own raw material, fitted it and developed a material that we felt was perfect for the everyday athlete and that they could wear at a high-performance training session at the gym but also outside of the gym.”
The brand has close ties to Pura Vida co-founder Griffin Thall and Blenders Eyewear founder Chase Fisher. With these brands located in Pacific Beach, Calif., Daniel is considering expanding LSKD’s roots into the San Diego area.
“We have some big goals to grow our brand within the USA community,” Daniel said. “Coming from Australia, it’s really exciting when we can build our brand and community in the U.S., and the next thing is aligning our mission back to what we do every day. We want to create something bigger than ourselves. We are looking at setting up an office in the U.S. next year as well.”
With a mission that Daniel mentions as “to inspire our community to chase the vibe through sport, fitness and adventure,” LSKD is available in women’s sizes 2–14 and men’s S–3XL. Priced $18–$150, the brand can be found at lskd.com.