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Gym clothes are now fashionable

Nov. 26, 2013 @ 07:14 AM

NEW YORK — So long, dingy sweatpants. Workout clothes for women, once relegated to the back of the closet, are moving to the front of the fashion scene.

Yoga pants are the new jeans, neon sports bras have become the “it” accessory and long athletic socks are hipper than high heels.

“I’ve actually had more excite­ment buying workout gear than normal jeans and dresses,” says Amanda Kleinhenz, 27, who wears workout gear both in and outside of the gym in Cleveland. “I want to look good.” Blame it on the push by many Americans toward a more active lifestyle. Or call it an extension of the nation’s fascination with fash­ion. Either way, these days jogging suits are just as likely to be seen on a runway in New York as a tread­mill in Texas.

In fact, sales of workout gear are growing faster than sales of every­day clothing — by a lot. Spend­ing on workout clothes jumped 7 percent to $31.6 billion during the 12-month period that ended in August. That compares with a 1 percent rise in spending for other clothing to about $169.2 billion.

But these aren’t cheap cot­ton T-shirts and spandex jumpsuits. Top designers like Calvin Klein, Stella McCart­ney and Alexander Wang all rolled out fitness chic clothing lines, with every­thing from $50 leggings to $125 zip-front hoodies and $225 long john sweatpants. And big nationwide retailers like Gap, Forever 21, Victoria Secret and Macy’s have fit­ness lines, too.

“Active has become an impor­tant part of what customers are wearing,” says Karen Hoguet, chief financial officer at Macy’s, which is expanding its active wear label to 400 stores from 160. “Sometimes it’s for athletic endeavors. Sometimes it’s just to run errands.”

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