The past year put us all in a sartorial slump.
Who knew that when the apocalypse came, the most-prepared wouldn't be the people with bunkers outfitted with canned beans, but rather the people who had the largest collection of sweatpants.
While some industries suffered in 2020, athleisure and streetwear sales went up as people prioritized comfort. It was the year of hoodies, sweatpants, and those TikTok leggings.
But celebrities probably weren't taking Zoom calls in their worn out college sweatpants like the rest of us. Seemingly every brand put out a line of sweatsuits to cash in on the public inclination to dress casually, from established streetwear brands to high fashion labels and even restaurants peddling loungewear merch.
And though more of the country is opening up as Americans are getting vaccinated, casual dressing is here to stay. But not everything will fly. As fashion adjusts to life after a year indoors, sweatpants will stay, but the focus will be on sleeker styles, and the challenge will be making them more interesting.
If you don't want to sacrifice either style or comfort, here are some of our favorite sweatpants to wear outside, even post-pandemic.
Only NY is an established New York City brand which translates the essence of the city into casual, cool pieces that are versatile and stylish. The challenges of 2020 inspired Only to make a collection directly devoted to the city as an official partner of the City of New York in support of the city's parks. Whether you're a New Yorker or you just wish you were, the Only NY "NYC Collection" can help you celebrate New York culture and look good while doing good.
The collection boasts everything from jerseys, hats, swim towels and totes, but the sweatsuits are where it's at.
Melody Ehsani is not new to the athleisure game. The LA-based designer has been a mainstay in the streetwear industry for pioneering a space for women of color. Her designs range from jewelry to accessories to apparel to shoes. Her collaboration with Jordan was the first major Air Jordan collaboration with a woman and resales for over $1000.
Her apparel is far more affordable, blending comfort and coolness with a sense of whimsy and irreverence. For $75, you can cop a pair of her signature sweatpants in colors like royal blue, saffron, a very on-trend tie dye, and more. For another $80, you can buy a matching hoodie to go full sweatsuit.
Daily Paper is an Amsterdam-based brand inspired by its founder's African heritage to put representation at its forefront. The brand has become globally acclaimed since its founding in 2012 for its quality apparel, bright colors and prints, and gorgeous campaign photoshoots.
The brand began as a blog inspired by its founder's love for music, art, and culture, so its products reflect the lessons learned interviewing the best in the industry. Its focus on heritage and design makes for some killer clothing and sweatsuit staples.
London has been pioneering streetwear for years and Cold Laundry is one of their greatest gifts. Cold Laundry also focuses on representation through fashion. Its campaign shoots are gorgeous and elaborate, just like its apparel.
Simple, oversized silhouettes in palettes ranging from minimal to pastels to bolder shades make for the perfect sweatsuit for anyone, and some incredibly imagery to match.
Sporty & Rich
Inspired by the brand's motto "health is wealth," Sporty & Rich leans into the athletic part of athleisure. The brand was founded by Emily Oberg, former head of Kith's women's department who has been dubbed the Martha Stewart of streetwear, who has been obsessed with good design and good health since childhood.
The brand sells yoga mats, exercise bands, and even tennis accessories, but its bread and butter is sweatsuits, making some of the best fitting sweatpants out right now. The organic heavyweight cotton means they have a rigid, structured shape and hold up well over many many washes. The brand does its best to be sustainable (though that's hard with any fashion brand) with limited drops and partnering with 1% for the Planet to plant trees for every purchase.
If you're going to wear designer sweatpants, don't waste your time buying expensive pieces from brands who know nothing about sweatpants. Cashmere blends and super-slim fit joggers are actually not a better alternative for your outfits or your wallets.
The best designer brands for your outdoor sweatpant adventures are the ones who understand the importance of durable materials and precise cuts. Pyer Moss, one of the leading contemporary Black brands, has been playing with streetwear since their inception, stretching the boundaries of high fashion with innovative prints and styles.
For high end sweatpants, Pyer Moss should be your first and last stop.