Athleisure or Athleticwear: What's The Difference?

Athleisure and athleticwear are two similar apparel categories for people with active and busy lives. The distinction between the two varies from person to person, so I will attempt to provide you with my best assessment of the situation.


initially became popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s when there was an increased interest in fitness, due in part to the ‘do-it-at-home’ exercise equipment and routines being advertised in infomercials. Activewear, also known as sportswear, is category of performance clothing intended to be worn at the gym or while participating in a sport. This type of apparel is designed specifically for athletic use and has evolved over time to help enhance the wearer’s athletic abilities. An example of such an evolution is the development of compression fabrics, which help regulate blood flow.


was brought to the mainstream in the late 90’s and early 2000’s by brands such as Lululemon and Juicy Couture with apparel that prioritized comfort while still delivering a sporty look. Athleisure is an apparel category that’s more focused on the aesthetic and overall look and comfort the outfit can provide, rather than its athletic function. Intended to be versatile, athleisure allows the wearer to transition from work to the gym in a casual ensemble that can be appropriately accessorized for both outings, since most people don’t have the time for an outfit change in their busy schedules.

The primary distinction here

is the stylizing and accessorizing of your sporty outfit. Overall, the distinction can best be seen through brands. Juicy Couture is more of an athleisure brand whereas Under Armour is more of an athleticwear brand. Dreissig Athletic is an example of a brand that can provide both athleticwear and athleisure to our sporty and stylish consumers.

On the left is an example of athleticwear, which has been designed to be form-fitting so as to enhance wearer performance while exercising. The shirt on the right is an example of a garment designed for athleisure. Exhibiting a sporty look, this shirt prioritizes comfort over athletic enhancement.

By Mitchell McCullough, Dreissig Apparel, Inc. Intern



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