I don’t know about you, but I demand a lot from affordable activewear. Not only does it have to deliver hard-working performance, but it needs to look great for the active session and for the post-sweat matcha/green juice/power smoothie for my 2023 health kick (and on the days when I shrug it on with no intention of working out at all).
Luckily, these days there is a line up of specialist high-street brands delivering slick, road-tested performance pieces that tick all the boxes for stylish and affordable activewear. Meet a few of our favourites…
Promising workout wear that delivers function and fashion, London-based brand Adanola launched in 2015 and has quickly garnered a loyal Instagram following (374k and counting) for their sleek, minimal pieces in a crisp palette that are designed to be worn far beyond a workout. Sounds right up our street.
The collection delivers everything from shorts and crop top duos and slim fit unitards to oversized slogan tees and comfort-first sweats, along with a line up of minimal accessories that spans totes to caps.
Their star product are the Ultimate Leggings – designed to a high waisted silhouette, without a front seam (to eliminate the dreaded camel toe), they come in multiple colours that will take you from coffee run to sun salutations in effortless style and look far more elevated than their £39.99 price tag.
Prices across the board are supremely reasonable, particularly considering the slick aesthetic and performance promise.
The best Adanola activewear buys
Since Gymshark launched (from founder Ben Francis’ garage, fyi) in 2012, its rise has been stratospheric, driven in large part by a loyal social media following and dynamic brand ambassadors – the fact that there’s a section on the website title ‘TikTok favs’ is testament to the power of the app for driving Gymshark love.
The collection is vast – everything you could possibly need for working out, plus many things you don’t, but will make stylish, long-lasting additions to your athleisure/loungewear wardrobe. And, the fast growing company is underpinned by an admirable ethos – ‘be human’ and ‘give a sh*t’ are written into their values. What keeps fans coming back?
As well as looking super slick, performance is key – quick-dry and sweat wicking are par for the course, and the performance wear comes in a bold, happy-making colour palette.
The best Gymshark activewear buys
YMO (You Me Ours)
The team behind The Sports Edit – a go-to destination for style conscious activewear hunters – have channelled their seven years of activewear expertise into launching YMO. An acronym for You Me Ours, the brand name refers to the collaborative process the label follows in designing their collection.
They promise every element, down to teeny weeny design details, is led by their community of wearers. Clever. Crafted in 75% sustainable fabrics – think recycled polyester, ECONYL (regenerated nylon made from, among other things, discarded fishing nets) and organic cotton, the collection is made in accredited factories, and all styles are road-tested for performance and durability.
Sounds dreamy, right? But it’s the designs that really seal the seal – crisp, sculpting pieces in a beautiful palette including deep fig, soft pink and jade green. Sign us up.
The best YMO activewear buys
When she started Tala in 2019, fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley’s vision was to create an affordable activewear brand that delivered ‘sustainable style without compromise’ – aka stylish, long-lasting performance wear that doesn’t break the bank. It’s an ethos which has remained central to the brand, who devoted time and energy to sourcing durable, sustainable fabrics and working with accredited factories, as well as creating trend-defying styles with wardrobe longevity (some feat).
‘Ultra-flattering fits guaranteed’ reads their Instagram tagline, and reviews from wearers back up the claim. Clean lines and sophisticated colours (pink clay, provence blue, ocean green) are brand signatures, and with pieces designed to cater to different body shapes (hallelujah) it’s no surprise that the collections are catnip to an army of devoted followers.
From streamlined super stretch styles to softest jersey pieces and now a range of minimal swimwear, Tala delivers something for everyone.
The best TALA activewear buys
Founded in 2017 by MIC’s Louise Thompson, Pocket Sport creates slick, ‘long-lasting’ affordable activewear that ‘goes with everything’ – e.g. the rest of your wardrobe. Working towards sustainability (the brand acknowledges it’s an on-going mission), they’ll plant a tree every time someone makes a purchase.
But it’s their athleisure additions that really have fans in a spin – see softest slogan sweatshirts, oversized tees and covetable caps (read: always sold out). Thompson really knows her stuff when it comes to both working out and style, so it’s no surprise the collection is making waves.
The best Pocket Sport activewear buys
You could argue that Australian entrepreneur Lorna Jane Clarkson invented the concept of activewear – stylish exercise clothing that integrates seamlessly into your everyday wardrobe and makes you want to be more active (definitely a thing).
She launched her affordable activewear label way back in the late 80s and has since gone from strength to strength, delivering sell out designs for everything from yoga to tennis, all with a conscious, sustainable ethos.
Alongside the signature coordinating sets – lust-worthy leggings and shorts with matching bras and crop tops that we know we’ll live in – the label delivers pieces which bridge the gap between workout wear and leisure wear; think zipped fleeces, chunky knits and a plethora of other styles you’ll wear on repeat.
Lorna Jane’s colours and prints are a particular draw, while those in the know will spot the signature details; carefully designed contrast panelling, sleek piping and monogrammed taping.