A few years ago, being seen out in your gym clothes was a bit of a fashion faux-pas. But gone are the days of fitness and fashion being mutually exclusive. Fitness is now seriously fashionable. Colourful Free-Runs have replaced ballet pumps, yoga pants have replaced skinny jeans and fashionable fitties are setting big trends across the globe. It seems everywhere you turn there are people taking their “gym style” out onto the street. According to Anjhe Mules, founder of Lucas Hugh (as worn by Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow), collections are now “designed to support a serious work-out, yet they are versatile and stylish enough to wear throughout the day and maybe even into the night.” And if you had any doubt about the new status of fitness in the fashion world, French Vogue recently published an editorial featuring supermodel Karlie Kloss in some super hot fitness gear.

The Hot Trends
The fitness fashion frontier has moved beyond the huge, global sports brands and the standard, not-so-flattering lycra black leggings and vests which cling in all the wrong places. And although many of these famous names have teamed up with designers and celebrities, it is the new kids on the block including Tully Lou, Lucas Hugh and HPE, who are setting the trends and taking the fitness fashion world by storm.

Bold and Bright
Back in the 1980s multi-coloured leotards and leggings were all the rage, but colourful active wear quickly disappeared from our radar and was replaced by a “rainbow” of black, grey and white. But colour is well and truly back and luminous block colours are definitely the new black. In fact, when it comes to fitness clothes, the brighter the better. Tully Lou, owner of Tully Lou active wear, told H & H that the bold, bright colours not only look great but they can also have an impact on our mood and change the way we feel – look good and feel good!

Nike and Asics have been leading the way with their brightly coloured trainers which are not only worn in the gym but donned as casual wear by everyone from yummy mummies to super models. This year at most of the major international fashion weeks, there was a noticeable presence of colourful running shoes and high-top trainers which seem to have taken over as the flat shoe du-jour. As well as trainers, over the last few years the popularity of colourful sports clothing has sky-rocketed thanks in part to global clothing chains such as Lulu Lemon and American Apparel.

But fear not bright colour-phobes, this year isn’t just about luminous pink and yellow (let’s face it, lumo colours just don’t suit everyone). As well as block colour, animal prints, tie-dye and other cool prints such as Lexie Sport’s Blonde Collection print, are currently trending in the fitness fashion world. One of H&H’s newest brands, Track & Field, has brought us some awesome, multi-coloured animal print leggings, tops and bras. At the moment we are loving Track and Field’s Snake Beach Leggings.

Thankfully for those who still love their black workout clothes, we will be seeing a lot more panels of print and colour down the sides of dark leggings and vests or around waistbands. This means you can gently wean yourself off the all-black by incorporating subtle colour and print while at the same time staying on trend. In the H & H store we stock both Track and Field and Lexie Sport dark coloured leggings with panels of their cool prints.

Another trend this year is layering. We love the look of a gorgeous, bright sports bra or tank top peeping through from under a different coloured vest. However layering isn’t just restricted to our top half. Layering with shorts and skirts over leggings is becoming a hot look for 2014 and the latest collection from Lucas Hugh includes mesh shorts to wear as a layer over your leggings.

Layering also allows you to transition smoothly from fitness to other daily activities without a full wardrobe change – simply throw a jacket, light jumper or baggy t-shirt over your gym vest and you are ready to lunge your way to lunch. The Pepper & Mayne Silver Logo Sweat is perfect for post-gym layering or for day-to-day wear.

The Cool New Brands
Many of the new, fashion forward labels are owned by health and fitness professionals. Tully Lou and Five Feathers, both stocked by Hip and Healthy, are owned by yoga teachers who use their experience of yoga and knowledge of movement to design their clothing. Tully Lou, told H & H that a lot of her inspiration comes from teaching yoga and from watching her students. The fact that both Tully and Sarah Thompson, owner of Five Feathers, continue to teach alongside their clothing lines means that they are connected to what their students are wearing and what they want to wear. The result of this is that these brands are making clothing which is flattering but more importantly functional allowing you to move freely and comfortably.

Thanks to their fitness-focused minds, several of these brands also have sports-specific ranges (yoga, running, tennis and more) as well as more general sportswear for all athletic (or even not-so athletic) endeavours. Lija, another of our favourites, started out by “pushing boundaries in golf apparel” – a welcome change for ladies looking for an attractive alternative to white polo-shirts and unflattering chino-like trousers. Lija now pushes boundaries in clothing for several other popular activities from tennis to yoga.

The ethics of these new fitness brands are different too – think fashion with some seriously good karma. Several of the brands stocked by H & H have a strong desire to give back and minimise their impact on the environment. One example of this is HPE, which believes that with success comes a “responsibility to positively influence” and the company has pledged to make a donation to climate change projects around the world for every garment sold. Another example is Five Feathers which gives a proportion of the profit from each item sold to the “Let Them Fly” foundation which supports education projects in extremely poor areas of Bangladesh.

With so many fantastic new brands paving the way for fashionable active wear, we have never been so spoilt for choice. All of these clothes are not only flattering, attractive and on trend, but thanks to the careful thought and design behind the scenes they are also functional, durable (hooray for leggings that don’t go see-through after one wash!) and made with a heart.

The Stylish New Stores
Good active-wear stores are not common place on the British high street. In fact finding a decent sports store selling clothes you actually want to wear can be a bit of a mission. The US and Canada, closely followed by Australia, have been quick to catch onto fitness fashion and getting your hands on gorgeous gym clothes isn’t difficult – in fact you are pretty spoilt for choice. However, over here on the other side of the pond, we have been a little slower to catch on.

Fortunately that gap in the UK market is filling meaning we no longer have to put up with old t-shirts and unflattering leggings for the gym. Here at Hip and Healthy we launched our popular online store in 2013 and we are rapidly expanding to bring you a wider range of our favourite fitness-fashion labels. We also regularly host pop-up events which combine an evening of browsing our store’s on-trend fitness gear with Hip and Healthy nibbles and green juices (sign up to our newsletter to receive an invitation to our next event).

As well as our online store and pop-ups, high-end fashion websites such as Net-a-Porter and Avenue 32 have jumped on the fitness band-wagon recently launching active wear stores (further evidence to support the seriously fashionable status of fitness wear).  Other than online boutiques, trend-setting gyms and health clubs such as Equinox in Kensington are starting to stock a range of boutique brands meaning you can exercise and shop in the same place.

With such gorgeous fitness clothing now available, we hope you will be inspired to join the health-revolution and get moving. There has never been a better time to put on your running shoes (colourful ones obviously), get fit and look hot doing it!

words by Kathleen Fleming