How leggings became our unofficial lockdown uniform

For most fashion fans, spring signals a shift in the sartorial agenda that sees heavy knits and hiking boots relegated to the back of their wardrobes to make way for new season purchases that are better suited to the warming weather. International travel restrictions, the cancellation of weddings and the inability to while away the days sat in sun-lit beer gardens have all made swimwear, floaty dresses and sunglasses somewhat redundant. Lyst’s 2020 Conscious Fashion Report also stated that interest in “sustainable activewear” is currently at an all-time high, with page views for Girlfriend Collective – which sells leggings made using recycled water bottles – up by 244 per cent year-on-year. Speaking about the online section of the business, Calvin McDonald, CEO of Lululemon, told CNBC that the brand had experienced “very strong numbers” for 2019 and that the same momentum had continued into this year thanks to athleisure sales.“We have seen a shift, all the businesses categories are doing well but there’s definitely been a shift to comfortable clothing as well asat-home accessories from our yoga mats to our blocks and a variety of items that are helping support people to find new ways to sweat,” Mr McDonald explained. “In times of uncertainty, people look for items or experiences that can bring a little joy or comfort, and fashion has often had a role to play in this,” says Emily Gordon-Smith, director of consumer product at trends intelligence business Stylus. This demand will only rise as consumers settle into working remotely and redress their work-life balance longer term potentially, opting foroutfitsthat will see them through the day where the boundaries of different roles are increasingly blurred.” Rebecca Lockwood, a fashion stylist, agrees, adding that it is the versatility of leggings which makes them the ideal garment for people to wear as they become accustomed to juggling everything from at-home workouts to Zoom meetings, for which dressing from the waist up has become the new normal. Gallery: 14 mistakes people who work from home often make (Espresso) “The right leggings can not only be figure flattering for all body shapes but also incredibly comfortable and practical. Just last year, Maryann White, who identified herself as a Catholic mother of four sons, caused a stir on the University of Notre Dame campus by writing a letter to the editor of the student newspaper. Following that, the first pair of Lycra leggings were made in1959, just one year after the invention of spandex by chemist Joseph Shivers in 1958 and soon after, the wider fashion industry embraced the slim, stretchy style with designers such asMaryQuant and Emilio Pucci teaming them with Swinging Sixties shift dresses. Fast forward to the 1970s and leggings were worn by rock stars like Debbie Harry, who paired hers with beer stained slogan tees, while the 1980s saw them become a staple in fitness circles following the rise of aerobics. After a brief hiatus in the 1990s which saw a return to baggy denim, leggings reappeared with vengeance in the Noughties, which saw MySpace stars obsess overAmerican Apparel’s high-shine, high-waisted Disco Pants and the decade's biggest It girls, from Alexa Chung and Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan, ditch their beloved skinny jeans. In more recent years, leggings have become a wardrobe basic among the sartorial elite, with the likes of Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Kate Moss wearing them everywhere, from their morning yoga class, to a business brunch, and even drinks. “We’re already talking about categories such as loungewear and basics, like leggings, for our spring/summer 2022 fashion directions and how the pandemic could change the way people dress for work post-crisis, with the needs of our wardrobes becoming more pragmatic than ever before. According to Emily Sanchez, a fashion stylist who has dressed the likes of Laura Linney and Claire Danes, looking put together while wearing leggings is down to two things: fit and colour.