Twice a year, the Active Collective Trade Show brings together an array of well-curated, luxury swim and athleisure brands to showcase their up-and-coming products to a room full of retailers, boutiques, luxury resorts and department stores from across the country. On January 11 and 12, more than 200 activewear and swimwear brands—including the likes of Free People Movement, Reebok, Frankies Bikinis and Beach Bunny—gathered in the over-100,00-square-foot space of Anaheim Convention Center’s exhibit hall. Trades shows are a consistent resource when it comes to spotting trends—and here are some takeaways to help you step up your athleisure and swim game this year.
The past year celebrated the “off-the-shoulder” trend that sweeped the closets of the nation’s fashionistas. This year beachwear companies are catching on to the trend. L’Space made the case for décolletage-baring silhouettes by adding an off-the-shoulder cool factor to an otherwise classic one-piece. Moreover, a brief stroll through the aisles was enough to notice the sheer amount of ruffles making appearances on necklines, sleeves and hips. Not only does ruffled detailing add a visual interest to any swimsuit, it also elevates it with a feminine, playful twist. Other frills on the trade show floor: peekaboo crochet bikinis, cool cut-outs, high-cut legs and low-scooped backs.
Refreshing new fabrics.
Swimwear brand Elizabeth Jane offered up an alternative to the traditional nylon-slash-spandex fabric—a soft, on-trend velvet. Their velvet one-piece—with a laced-up deep-plunging front—is the kind of garment you can wear under a pair of high-rise shorts or an ankle-length bohemian skirt. In fact, it could easily be mistaken for a bodysuit, which once again reinforces the drive to manufacture pieces that, with some styling tricks, can be worn during several occasions—even when you’re a long way away from sand, salt and sea.
So much of this year’s prints are inspired by the much-stalked #wanderlust. Take Luli Fama, for example, whose latest collection is imbued with references that pay homage to her stomping grounds. “The theme was ‘Viva Cuba,’” said Luli. “I’m Cuban. It’s so popular now. Everybody wants to go to Cuba. We thought we’d shoot there, and bring the lifestyle and the culture and show people more of what it’s about. The brand itself has that flair. It’s a Latin brand—spicy, sexy and very feminine.” Chikolat Beachwear’s collection “Land of Grace” also borrowed its color palette and tropical prints from far-flung locations like the peninsula of Paria in eastern Venezuela.
Jumpsuits have become the ultimate one-step outfit that ruled the summer. It’s easy to see why—they’re cool, comfortable and take the thinking out of getting dressed. So it was no surprise that this fashion staple turned up on the trade show floor—a little reinvented, a little more contoured and a lot more convenient. It’s equal parts sexy and sporty. (Think: no embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions like a pants roll-down or a tank-top ride-up during an intense cardio session). Silou, a London-based luxury activewear and lifestyle brand, showcased several form-fitting jumpsuits that are hip for the yoga studio, but can just as easily be worn outside its confines.
Comfortable, breathable and quick-drying fabrics.
A lot of brands focused on coming up with their own magic fabric formulas that promise comfort and breathability. Shape, for example, boasted leggings made with moisture-wicking technology dubbed “DryFuze.” Beyond Yoga, a US-based female-owned and operated company, highlighted its “Spacedye” proprietary fabric, which also features quick-dry properties and a butter-soft feel. Also noteworthy: Lorna Jane’s, an Australian activewear company, “Nothing 2 See Here” trademark material—which the brand is planning on releasing in a variety of prints. As the name suggests, the material’s threads do not separate when stretched, so you can downward-dog, deadlift and get your sweat on at the gym without any “see-through” issues.
Transformation-friendly, neutral colors.
Bold, bright colors and florals bring some much-needed fun to sportswear, but there’s a lot can be said about understated, neutral-hued garments you can swap out your tired white-tee-and-jeans closet routine for. Z Supply’s comfortable, unfussy line offers the kinds of basics that can be played up or down, and that go hand-in-hand with most day-to-day pieces. Beyond Yoga also delivered muted palettes, toying with plush pinks and earthy colors like olive greens and tans. It plays well into the concept of “athleisure”—attire that you can wear anywhere and anytime, even when you’re not barreling your way through a marathon.
Cute gym bags that complement cute gym clothes.
It’s a well-known fact that gym bags only serve as a place to stuff your soggy towels and damp clothes in. But Vooray, purveyor of gym bags, fitness bags and sport duffels, begs to differ. Its latest collection, displayed at the trade show, upped the gym-bag game by a significant amount. In addition to offering minimalistic totes with smart features (like side pockets for easy access to phone), Vooray whipped up its own wetsuit-like, neoprene fabric that’s durable, water-resistant and rose-petal smooth. “[Our bags] are not too big, not too bulky and complements outfits,” said Brad Staples, vice president of sales. “We know a lot of apparel has prints, so we’re trying to find bags and colors that work with different outfits.”
Photo Credit: Kinya Claiborne, STYLE & SOCIETY