You’ve Seen It on the Streets, Now Athleisure Is Taking Over the High-Fashion Runways—Gucci Included

Youve Seen It on the Streets Now Athleisure Is Taking Over the HighFashion Runways—Gucci Included
Photographed by Young Chul Kim

This past weekend, I was walking down Prince Street in SoHo when I found myself surrounded by versions of the same look: ponytails and baseball hats, colorful Alo Yoga racerback crop tops worn with matching leggings and biker shorts, and 5” inseam gym shorts worn with Arc’teryx tank tops or tees. Ask any New Yorker: Athleisure has taken over everyday style.

Then yesterday, I opened my Vogue Runway app to find a new Gucci collection (resort 2024, shown in Seoul) and found biker shorts paired with tweed jackets and track zip-ups styled over evening gowns. To me, they could have been channeling the Lululemon-clad folks I was about to see on my work commute. Then I started thinking about athleisure on other runways: Marine Serre’s armaggeddon-ready utility-wear, Mrs. Prada’s fall 2023 Miu Miu show, Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe long-johns. Then, during my lunch break, I opened my Twitter app to find a Tweet by fashion journalist Lauren Sherman pointing out that Hermès had quietly launched a line of yoga-wear. What had seemed like a fitness-obsessed American phenomenon had spread across the pond. The athleisure-ification of high-fashion is upon us.

Gucci, resort 2024.

Photo: Carlo Scarpato /

Miu Miu, fall 2023 ready-to-wear.

Photo: Isidore Montag /

Loewe, fall 2023 menswear.

Photo: Isidore Montag /

Marine Serre, fall 2023 ready-to-wear.

Photo: Carlo Scarpato /

The question is: Why? Is it designers being realistic about what their customers are actually wearing every day? Is it confusion about what to wear post-Covid, mixing WFH basics with dress-to-impress styles? Is it us oxymoronically finding a new uniform in our rejection of existing ones?

Try all of the above. 

The fall 2023 runways saw an abundance of power-tailoring—Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli created an entire collection around the black tie, tweaking the idea of formalwear. Anthony Vaccarello looked at Working Girl for his Saint Laurent fall lineup, which took the pinstripe out of the boardroom. As leading designers decontextualize these uniforms, we are bound to find the comfort of homogeneity elsewhere. Enter: athleisure. 

But as the pandemic put the final nail on the coffin of blazers, ties, and pencil skirts (or slacks) as our only options for work attire, it created confusion as to what we are supposed to wear and where. It’s no wonder that folks are dressing in activewear to grab lunch or drinks on a weekend, to shop, or to simply exist outside. If our casualwear—jeans, cargos, denim jackets, and simple button downs—is now our work attire, what else would we wear to dress casually? Turns out Jonathan Anderson had the right idea when he sent heather-gray long-johns paired with a wrinkled shirt down his fall 2023 Loewe menswear runway in January. Gucci’s Prince of Wales suit—double breasted jacket and biker shorts—seems like a viable idea now.

Martine Rose, fall 2023 menswear.

Photo: Andrea Adriani /

Luar, fall 2023 ready-to-wear.

Photo: Isidore Montag /

Saul Nash, fall 2023 menswear.

Photo: Carlo Scarpato /

Willy Chavarria, fall 2023 menswear.

Photo: Laura S. Fuchs / Courtesy of Willy Chavarria

In hindsight, Mrs. Prada’s tongue in cheek take on athleisure now comes across as a more earnest idea. At Miu Miu, the designer emphasized the ubiquity of athleisure with zip hoodies in heather-gray knits or stiff leathers paired with ordinary tights, leggings, and sometimes nothing but underwear. (“I love it! If I were younger, I would go out in panties!” she said after the show.) In a season that was decisively dressed-up, Miu Miu reflected the reality behind put-togetherness, particularly for a generation that is significantly less interested in performing sophistication. Gen Z generally seems to care less about perfect tailoring and more about comfort.

Mrs. Prada understands our contradictory cravings for both luxury and comfort. After work, the Miu Miu person does a pilates class, and on their way home they stay in workout clothes and put their loafers back on; their formerly perfect middle-part bun now messed up from the workout. This is how we dress: with messy hair, the wrong shoes, and with a comfy hoodie to keep us warm. 

Karl Lagerfeld once said that sweatpants are a sign of defeat, but that’s hardly the case now that our Adidas sweatpants can be co-signed by Gucci or Balenciaga.