Vail Valley fitness gets fashion forward |

Vail Valley fitness gets fashion forward

Rosanna Turner
Daily correspondent
While in recent years there's been a trend towards neutrals and muted tones, activewear fashion is bringing back bright, neon colors and printed leggings meant to stand out, doing away with workout clothes designed solely for the gym.
Townsend Bessent | |

For decades women searched for the perfect pair of jeans. Now, finding the most fit and flattering yoga pant is the new fashion crusade, as sales of activewear are rising while our dedication to denim fades. In 2013, sales of the true blue staple fell by 6 percent in America, while sales of yoga pants, leggings and athletic clothing increased by 7 percent, surpassing our love of Levi’s for the first time.

Sandy Helt, owner of Valleygirl Boutique in both Edwards and Avon, said activewear is now “getting so fashionable that a lot of people are choosing to wear it on an everyday basis, whether they’re working out or not. “

Stylish yet still sporty

Helt and other locals said the most popular activewear brand at the moment is ALO Yoga, a company based in California that’s bringing a fun, funky and fashion-forward vibe to workout clothes.

“(ALO) is great because the fabrics are all technical,” Helt said. “It’s a true fitness line, but it has a lot of fashion designed into it.”

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Helt said in the past people were more concerned with the functionality of fitness clothing, with fashion being second priority.

Recently, she’s noticed that “people are leaning more toward the fashionable outfit than the technical outfit,” and due to innovations in activewear fabrics, it’s easier for designers to add more stylish touches to traditional workout pieces.

Fitness fashion trends don’t quite mirror what’s hot the runway yet, but Helt said expect to see more blue and navy this fall, along with faux leather yoga pants, which you could wear from your dance workout class to the club a few hours later.

Unlike the “normcore” or neutral colors you see on the racks currently, Helt said with activewear bright, neon colors are still in, as are flashy printed and patterned leggings. In some ways, activewear is becoming not just more stylish, but many are adopting it as their own personal style, Helt said, choosing to combine looking cute with being comfortable.

Prints that pop

Adding the word “cute” to “mountain bike shorts” in a Google search used to produce few results, but now even the most active clothing brands are coming out with edgier, more fashionable designs.

Ashley Rankin, owner and designer of Shredly, a women’s active apparel company based in Carbondale, used to bemoan at the lack of mountain bike short options for women, finding that most of it wasn’t very chic, and “nothing fit well,” she said.

After discovering that many of her girlfriends who also biked felt the same way, Rankin, who studied fashion design in college, started brainstorming patterns and searching for sample fabrics. A successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 helped launch Shredly, which specializes in sport shorts for women with daring, bold patterns and wild designs. Rankin said when doing research before starting Shredly, she couldn’t believe that there wasn’t anything like her shorts already on the market.

“Everything out there, and this is pretty much still the case, is solid (colors),” Rankin. “There’s not that many prints. The trend is definitely catching on … but I (wondered), why has no one capitalized on this? Why is no one doing this?”

While initially designed for mountain biking, Rankin also wanted her shorts to be versatile and stylish enough to wear even when you’re not on the trail.

“I like to raft, I like to hike,” Rankin said. “I hate that you’re forced to buy a different short for all of these things. Living in Colorado and doing a lot of different activities, you have to spend a ton of money on buying gear for everything.”

Now in 50 stores and sold online, Rankin is hoping to expand Shredly’s line to include items such as skirts, leggings and tops, which she already gets a lot of email requests for. Some of Shredly’s biggest fans might not want to admit what brand they’re wearing.

“I have this funny following with guys,” Rankin said. “The fit is great on them, and many want to make a statement. The most popular pattern for men is the peacock, which is hilarious.”

Fashion motivators

Rankin said there are customers who still ask for a basic black bike short, but she’s hoping to convert even the most fitness-focused to get a bit more creative with their wardrobe. After all, getting dressed and ready to go out and ride is a part of the process, she said.

“(With) a dirt bike, (the outfit) is really hard core,” Rankin said. “You feel like a badass even if you aren’t. I wanted to bring that concept into mountain biking.”

For some, fashionable activewear can be the incentive to stay fit and hit the gym everyday.

“If you have clothes that make you feel good about what you’re wearing and how your body looks, you’re going to feel more motivated to workout,” said Rebecca Pellican, owner of Pure Barre in Edwards, which sells a variety of activewear brands. “(You want clothes) that flatter the figure you’re working so hard to get.”

As yoga pant fabrics start to feel more “like butter”, Pellican said, taking them off and putting on a different outfit is becoming less attractive.

Wearing sweats used to be synonymous with looking like a slob, but with so many fashionable activewear options to choose from, perhaps pulling on a pair of tight jeans that hide your toned legs and shapely calves, won’t seem that stylish anymore.

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