Sorry to usurp my weekly Would Amanda Eat It? entry (it will bump to Thursday this week!) but a dear friend (and loyal reader!) of mine brought an article to my attention yesterday and said, “I think your full response to this will have to be a blog post.”
And she was right.
The article in question was about Nike’s new sportswear collection, which, the author claims, “looks more appropriate for a fashion runway than a gym.” My first thought?
But nope, lovely readers, in fact the full title of the article suggests that women are “insulted” by Nike’s new line. The new collection, designed by Japanese powerhouse Sacai, features billowy skirt-pants and semi-sheer tops, among other street-inspired silhouettes (think lacy camisoles sewn into sweatshirts and mesh-front leggings).
And now, after seeing all this, I think:
I have long lamented the absence of true fashion-forward style in fitness fashion, and the insinuation that just because something isn’t suited to “competitive sports” means it isn’t functional for a fit woman’s lifestyle is erroneous. Also, what exactly about adding a sheer panel to the back of a T-shirt makes it less functional?
Nike has a long legacy of making actual sportswear for actual sports – there’s no disputing that, and about 80% of what’s in their current women’s activewear line is definitely made with exercise in mind.
So why does a brand who does so much “traditional” activewear get crucified when they theorize (rightly) that an active, fit woman might want to clean up and look kind of cool for a minute – without sacrificing comfort or movement?
And let’s be honest, critics who have seemingly just jumped on the Nike-griping bandwagon – were those popular Nike wedge sneakers ever remotely functional?
Where’s the outcry there? There should be none, because I for one support the shifting of high-fashion ideals from the impossible-to-wear (and physiologically unhealthy) sky-high stilletto “norm” to a more activewear-focused, girl-on-the-move sense of what is fashionable. This is a move in the right direction, ladies – not the wrong one.
And what of this Nike women’s short-sleeved poncho (again, not from the Sacai line)? If you tried to work out in this plastic-covered bad boy, you’d suffocate, and the shortness of the sleeves means it’s not even really “functional” as a cool-weather jacket, much less an activewear staple.
And yet I think we can all agree that its purpose is not for playing sports; rather, its purpose is to emphasize a sense of style that doesn’t rely on skin-tight, crop-top, short-skirt, bare-all ideals of “high” fashion. Pieces like this – puffy, the opposite of fitted, and a far cry from neon or sparkles – say to the world, “Ain’t nobody got time for bullsh*t,” and yet say so in a powerful, self-determined, athletic voice.
When it goes on sale (or makes it to the outlets), you can bet I’ll be one of the first ones lining up for the NikeLab x sacai line, because I am also the first one lining up for a new, more empowering vision of what a fit, fashionable woman can look like – and to me, that looks a lot like comfortable windbreaker skirts and cute, baggy sweatshirt dresses.
Do you think fitness and fashion are compatible? Do you like – or hate! – designer “styled” athletic wear?