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How luxe leggings gave jeans the blues

How luxe leggings gave jeans the blues

In September, reports from the USA showed that women were rejecting jeans in favour of yoga leggings. Sales of denim trousers fell by 6% in 2014, after years of steady growth (since the 1970s, when corduroy had its moment). The rise and rise of what has been coined ‘athleisure’ wear, on the other hand, seems set to continue into 2015.

As Lillian Rizzo reported in March in a blog for the Wall Street Journal, retailers like Lululemon, Nike and Under Armour have experienced a recent surge, with the result that, “Denim retailers are feeling the blues.” VF Corp. wrote down the value of their premium jeans company 7 For All Mankind and two other contemporary brands by $396 million. However, as Rizzo explains, “VF Corp.’s overall revenue was cushioned by its athletic brands North Face, Timberland and Vans.”

Luxe leggings
Hey Jo’s SS15 Yemeni leggings

So why this change in our wardrobes? Obviously the mainstream boom in health-related activities like running, yoga, pilates and crossfit means that more and more women are buying exercise wear in the first place – and discovering how comfy it is. This in turn encourages companies to put money and effort into developing new, better-fitting and better-looking fitness gear, which of course means we’re even more likely to slip on a pair of seamless, streamlined, breathable yoga leggings, rather than squeeze into some stiff, starchy, muffin-top-exposing skinny jeans.

Where a few years ago, the word ‘leggings’ made anyone who’d experienced the early 90s run screaming from the room, chased by memories of paisley, VPL, neon, and those terrifying saggy bits at the knees – nowadays ‘yoga pants’ have gone upmarket. Wear them with ballet flats for a day of shopping, courts for work, or sky-high heels for a night out. As long as they’re worn over the right underwear, to avoid any camel toe, or teamed with a long blouse or shirt, there’s no reason for anyone to yell the iconic phrase ‘leggings are not pants!’ (or trousers, if you’re in the UK. Leggings may be many things to many people, but should seldom, if ever, be underpants.)

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Arabica leggings from Hey Jo’s SS15 collection

However, the Arab Emirate of Qatar has, in fact, issued a ‘modest dressing’ decree telling tourists that leggings are emphatically not to be worn as trousers, and Montana State Rep David Moore has recently made his views on the fashion quite clear – “Yoga pants should be illegal in public”. But thankfully most of us now don’t bat an eye when seeing someone walk into a meeting wearing a pair of high-end yoga leggings, such as those sold by ‘stylish activewear’ label Hey Jo.

Specialising in luxe leggings that will take you from morning jog, to working lunch, to a night on the tiles, Hey Jo boasts the “finest Italian jersey, incorporating the latest high-tech functionality including muscle control, quick drying, anti-chaffing, two-way stretch and supreme breathability material.” I love my Hey Jos for running, though personally I find the money-pouch zip hurts my back when I’m doing pilates.

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Teeki’s collection includes (left) Deer Medicine Aqua (£47.50) and Electric night leggings (£47.50)

But what about the environment? Shiny lycra-infused leggings dyed garish colours may seem like eco-conscious anathema, but luckily that doesn’t have to be the case, thanks to über-green innovative brands like Teeki. This California-based company creates gorgeous bright comfy creations made from recycled plastic bottles. The clothes are handsewn in the US, using only good labour practices and environmentally friendly techniques, and are now available in UK.

Teekis are the ultimate in feelgood eco-fashion, and yes, as the weather gets warmer, I may well wear them more than my jeans… Soz denim.