August 14, 2022

oumiss

Forget Mediocre Fashion

44 Best Activewear Brands in 2021 to Know and Shop

Now that the defining lines between athletic wear, loungewear, and relaxed after-hours-wear have been blurred to soft smudges, searching for the best activewear is a triple play. In 2021, everything lives beyond the gym, the studio, or, of course, the yoga mat.

Designer collabs and ballet-all-day layers are leading activewear’s metamorphosis as we twirl toward a new year. Stateside enlisted New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck to design a comfy capsule collection, while Le Ore’s wrappy cardigan tops and RtA ribbed bodysuits update the Center Stage look. Marine Serre’s head-to-toe spandex fits offer stylish hybrids, and then there’s the neverending versatility of a classic Adidas tracksuit that made it so beloved by filmmaker Wes Anderson or Grace Wales Bonner. The latter reimagined it with West Africa in the ’70s as inspiration (below), complete with a hint of the London-based brand’s insignia at the neck. Perhaps it’s Lady Gaga’s House of Gucci wardrobe that’s sent the fashion world into an après ski frenzy or simply a renewed interest in all things outdoors. In any case, dress to thrill in the latest pieces from Moncler and Cordova, or simply stroll the streets sans windblown tears in Celine’s new Italian-made ski goggles. Even Rick Owens, with a reputation for sculptural leather and aspirational gothwear, has embraced the skort—not to mention vegan materials.

Here, a running tally of the emerging, essential, and delightfully useful brands making some of the best activewear in the game to shop and infinitely style.

New Balance tapped Staud designer Sarah Staudinger for a remix of the American sportswear label’s colorful signatures. Expect two-tone sweatpants, charming water satchels, and multi-use outerwear that’s anything but basic.

New Balance x Staud colorblock maxi

New Balance x Staud nylon water bottle holder

For an ongoing collaboration with Wales Bonner designer Grace Wales Bonner, Adidas classics are reimagined with an emphasis on retro details. Warm color palettes, crochet, and “Trefoil” and stripes can all be found in this drop.

Adidas Originals x Wales Bonner crochet-trimmed knitted track jacket

Adidas Originals x Wales Bonner crochet-trimmed knitted track pants

A finalist for Vogue x CFDA Fashion Fund, RtA designer Eli Azran infuses the brand with “French sensibility.” Stretchy bodysuits and lurex leggings are designed for the dance floor and work just as well at dance class.

RTA Enrica stretch-cotton jumpsuit

The Burch brand has tennis whites and on-court accessories baked into its DNA. Its best-sellers blend Coolmax® EcoMade fibers with classic silhouettes for preppy staples that feel safe to break a sweat in.

Tory Burch reflective-stripe hoodie

Tory Burch ripstop nylon color-block duffel bag

Lightweight and moisture-wicking, Solid & Striped Sport offers fabrics that move with the body. For the line’s best-selling Trek fit, leggings even come with a removable belt bag for storing the bare essentials.

Solid & Striped Sport freestyle deep V elastic band bra

Solid & Striped Sport trek belt bag leggings

The Parisian label made famous by Beyonce and Euphoria continues its iconic moon print. Marine Serre created an exclusive run for MyTheresa in technical stretch jersey to stylize every kind of movement exercise.

Marine Serre printed stretch-jersey top

Marine Serre printed stretch-jersey leggings

Co-founder Robyn Berkley left a career in fashion to get a yoga certification in Bali that eventually led her back to fashion—this time, using conscious fibers and production methods to create Live The Process. Think hi-tech fabrics with a ballet-pretty aesthetic.

Live The Process Zen jersey cropped wrap top

$118$94

MATCHESFASHION.COM

Live The Process ballet seamless ribbed jersey stirrup leggings

The ballet aesthetic is going strong. Knit cardigans, sweater bras, and mock-neck pullovers are on the lineup for Bandier’s Le Ore label.

Le Ore Lodi pointelle knit wrap cardigan

Associated with supermodels like Candice Swanepoel (who hosts a series of digital workouts for the brand) and the Hadid sisters, Alo Yoga’s designs are exactly the kind of athletic wear you’ll see in celebrities-in-the-wild paparazzi shots and yoga classes alike.

Alo Yoga Foxy sherpa jacket

Alo Yoga high-waist Airlift leggings

Lululemon’s leggings and contoured outerwear have become legendary amongst fitness buffs. Still, there are accessories to be discovered, like comfy boxing wraps to level-up handwork at the gym.

Lululemon Fast and Free high-rise tights

In apparel, Nike’s figured out the sweet spot for high-performance fitness pieces that masquerade as real clothes (as well as collaborations with labels like Sacai that beg the question “why not run in a skirt?”). Their DRI-Fit tech, featured in compression pieces, is thinner (and somehow stronger) than traditional stretch yarns for a featherlight touch that lets you move more freely.

Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh women’s medium-support 1-piece pad sports bra

Nike x Sacai webbing-trimmed pleated ripstop midi skirt

Girlfriend Collective considers all bodies in their process with extended sizing, then goes a step further to offer an eco recipe for each piece. For example, the bike unitard below diverted 26 water bottles from landfills, while the bra diverted 12.

Girlfriend black Ellie clip nursing bra

Girlfriend mahogany Juliet strappy bra

Credit where credit is due, Stella McCartney was in the first wave of designers to consider the health and fitness of all forms of life by promising to avoid materials that harm animals. Futuristic and functional, the line’s eco-solutions range from the recycled polyester for this wearable water bag to recycled polyamide in supportive bikini shorts.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Earth Protector shell overalls

$395$197

MATCHESFASHION.COM

Adidas by Stella McCartney hooded belt-bag shell windbreaker

This is where basics are married with thoughtful fabrics—like an organic cotton sweatshirt that’s as soft as a pullover should be or a unitard that bounces back with 58% recycled nylon.

Everlane the perform square-neck unitard

Everlane the track cropped sweatshirt

Moncler has, of late, become one of the most forward-looking fashion houses for activewear. Bubblegum pink fluffy vests, printed thermals, and figure-flattering neoprene ski suits define the latest collection.

Moncler Grenoble logo-patch quilted-fleece down gilet

Moncler Grenoble Tuta belted paneled neoprene ski suit

Celine’s ski goggle collection is sure to be seen off the slopes (especially at the height of fashion’s mask-ification of all accessories). With completely UV-protective lenses, the case for all-day wear is obvious.

Celine Eyewear studded ski goggles

Celine Eyewear injected ski mask goggles

The appeal of a one-piece has been proven over the past seasons in fashion and activewear. Cordova’s modern color theory and throwback après ski styles offer the next wave of onesies.

Cordova the Avorias 1800 belted striped ski suit

Cordova belted nylon-blend softshell ski suit

From surfing waves to shredding slopes, Perfect Moment’s luxury activewear is designed to be seen. When foiled puffers and star-printed jumpsuits are staples, imagine the possibilities.

Perfect Moment Mania zipped merino-wool thermal top

Perfect Moment Aurora houndstooth softshell ski trousers

These recycled Raquel leggings by Splits59 have become insider favorites for their body-friendly fabric and silhouette. Tech flex sports bras and French terry rugby tops can be mixed to match the day’s class.

Splits59 Tiger cropped striped french cotton-terry polo shirt

Splits59 Raquel recycled stretch flared track pants

Reebok and Victoria Beckham reunite with additional accessories like recycled fiber socks. Beckham wears and vets each piece, like the line’s running shorts designed to smooth and support, to be sure it aligns with her vision.

Reebok x Victoria Beckham logo-jacquard medium-impact sports bra

Reebok x Victoria Beckham 2-in-1 ripstop layered shorts

$120$60

MATCHESFASHION.COM

For athletes in need of fleece, The North Face continues to offer its take on the noughties trend via iPhone-friendly gloves. The line’s 1996 Retro styles have made a recent comeback as well.

The North Face women’s 1996 retro nuptse jacket

The North Face women’s Etip recycled gloves

An indie, Portland-based label that started as a tennis line, Full Court Sport has evolved into a full body of activewear necessities. Its classic designs are defined by flattering shapes and sophisticated color schemes.

Full Court Sport hooded ripstop jacket

Full Court Sport perforated stretch-jersey tennis dress

Along with flattering lines, the body-sculpting Compression Texture material that Outdoor Voices utilizes in their designs makes head-to-toe spandex look easy. Strategic color blocking provides a helpful assist.

Outdoor Voices Athena sleeveless dress

Outdoor Voices springs 7/8 leggings

For streamlined basics, FP Movement makes it easy. Yoga shorts and running tanks are offered in a range of colorways with silhouettes that don’t miss.

Free People Happiness Runs crop

Free People strappy back prajna set

Even Sharon Stone is a fan of Thom Browne’s new activewear line. The iconic actor prepped for this year’s Met Gala in the designer’s sweats—now, compression options are in the mix.

Thom Browne four-bar jersey compression long-sleeve T-shirt

Thom Browne four-bar jersey cropped compression leggings

A sports bra cut more like a sculpting crop top? A bike short that both tricks and delights the eye? Port De Bras lends stylized details to the ever functional fitness space.

Port De Bras Hannah tank top

Port De Bras arrow biker shorts

Designers creating eco options? The more, the merrier. Ernest Leoty’s paneled sports bras are made with Global Recycled Standard-certified stretch jersey for reduced environmental impact.

Ernest Leoty Joanna two-tone recycled-fibre cropped top

Ernest Leoty Florence bi-colour cropped top

$107$58

MATCHESFASHION.COM

Of course, Virgil Abloh thought to include a shoulder-defining rowing top in Off-White’s culty mix of athletic staples that double as fashion flexes. For the most eye-catching options, logomania is alive and well.

Off-White active logo long sleeve top

Off-White active wavy logo track pants

Made by a family-owned circular knitting factory based in Canada, TWENTY Montreal trademarked the terms “3D Activewear” and “Hyper Reality Knit” for a reason. They created a new category of performance sportswear thanks to their 3D knitting technology.

Twenty Montréal 3D Cracked Earth cropped textured stretch-nylon top

Twenty Montréal Monstera stretch-jacquard shorts

From Australia, P.E. Nation makes 90% of their athleticwear out of recycled and regenerative fibers. And, unsurprisingly, the Jenners and Hadids of the world are already wearing the graphic pieces by founders Pip and Claire, who previously worked with brands like Topshop and sass & bide.

P.E. Nation Ramp Run recycled puffer jacket

P.E. Nation stability sports bra

Of course, Virgil Abloh thought to include a shoulder-defining rowing top in Off-White’s culty mix of athletic staples that double as fashion flexes. For the most eye-catching options, logomania is alive and well.

Off-White ribbed rowing top

Off-White athleisure logo leggings

The cinching effect of these Year of Ours lace-up football leggings (one of the label’s signatures) has drawn in celebs like Hailey Bieber and Eiza González. In black, they’re a convincing after-hours addition.

Year of Ours active shrug

Year of Ours ribbed Veronica leggings

For yogis and high-impact athletes hoping to level-up poses and performance, grip accessories are essential wear. Athleta carries cult brands like Toesox and Tavi Noir, loved by celebs like Hailey Bieber and Heidy De la Rosa, respectively.

Athleta savvy grip socks by Tavi Noir

Frankies Bikinis has already cultivated fans like JLo, Hailey Bieber, and the Hadid sisters. Created in shades designed to mingle, the line’s sweatshirts and shorts bring an oversized element to the line’s notoriously skintight lineup.

Frankies Bikinis Bennie oversized crewneck sweatshirt

Frankies Bikinis Burl high-waist sweat shorts

New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck designed a pastel capsule collection of comfy knits for Stateside that the American-made label describes as “right en pointe.”

Stateside powder 2×1 rib short sleeve twist top

Stateside infinity softest fleece drawstring pant

While you’re likely familiar with their tights and socks (they make great stabilizing ones to prevent sprains), Falke also delivers elegant basics. Tanks that keep you cool, tiny shorts that keep you warm—the German brand approaches each piece with logic and a light hand.

Falke Ergonomic Sport System striped merino wool-blend half-zip top

Falke Ergonomic Sport System SK4 stretch-knit socks

L’Etoile Sport, despite its French name, is actually an American sportswear brand that launched about a decade ago in Southampton. Specializing in classic tennis silhouettes, they also have a range of golf and activewear that follows the line’s “play all day” ethos.

L’Etoile Sport high-neck bra

L’Etoile Sport pleated skort

Yvonne Bulimo, born in Kenya and raised in America, launched ZOEZI Sport (zoezi means “exercise” in Swahili) as a lifestyle brand with fashion at the forefront. On top of seamless cuts, Bulimo offers a unisex line of comfy sweats.

Zoezi Sport unisex Tulia sweatshirt

Zoezi Sport unisex Tulia sweatpants

Bandier’s All Access line cleverly offers the option to buy their best-sellers as “kits.” For those that prefer matching sets anyway, leggings and sports bras can be bundled at a discount.

All Access the Starter kit

All Access the Harmony kit

For easygoing staples like finely ribbed square-neck tops and waffle thermal wear, Aerie delivers. Somehow, they’ve even made a cargo legging look sleek.

Aerie Offline Big Chill seamless long sleeve T-shirt

Aerie Offline Big Chill seamless legging

Knix has brought its moisture-wicking tech to the activewear space. Seamless bras and oversized hoodies alike are cut in modal fabric that adjusts to current needs—warm or cool.

Knix Good to Go high-neck seamless bra

Both Kate Moss and her daughter Lila Moss wear PRISM Squared. As if one requires more convincing, all pieces are made sustainably in Italy with a minimal-waste production technique using 3D knitting. They’re also eco-dyed according to Greenpeace-certified protocol.

Prism² Mindful stretch-jersey cropped top

Prism² balanced jersey jumpsuit

$187$130

MATCHESFASHION.COM

Koral’s high-shine fits bring an element of futurism to the fitness space. Mock-neck crop tops and bike shorts deliver high-functioning wardrobe staples beyond the class.

Koral Luca infinity crop top

Koral Start Infinity two-tone stretch shorts

Rick Owens is the darkwave choice for those who prefer everything to be a varying shade of black. Beyond his line for Champion, Owens has an ongoing collaboration with Veja, where corn waste and polyurethane create a vegan-approved alternative to leather trainers.

Rick Owens drawstring-waist swim skort

Rick Owens grey Champion edition jogger lounge pants