Interview by Melanie Gropler

New York based Bianca Jade is a fitness trend expert, a health & wellness tv host and a spokesperson for many incredible fitness fashion and lifestyle brands. Everything she does professionally has grown out of the Mizzfit website she founded in 2009 after leaving a career in creative advertising. But as she grew into her skin and developed more defined health values, she wanted to give women the scoop on what’s healthy, cool and empowering in the world. So she left her job in advertising and started a little blog that today has grown into a business for her. Mizzfit represents all the things she believes are fun and life-changing about fitness. "That includes fashion…mostly because it can be a huge turning point for women", stated Jade. "Even the women out there who don’t think fitness fashion could incentivize them to work out soon discover it’s actually a brilliant hook." She has become an authority on sportswear and athleisure to fitness lovers and based in NYC she is in the front row of the development. Here, she discusses actual trends and where athleisure is going in the future.

What do you think have pushed this movement of athleisure forward?
Many things. The movement began well before 2010 when active wear stores like Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and a few others reared their heads. Yoga definitely had a lot to do with it too. As this workout became popular—and more fitness oriented—the savvy women who took these classes decided that just 1 or 2 outfits wasn’t enough! They viewed their new yoga routine as a way of life and wanted to dress and accessorize themselves just as they would in non-workout clothes. I adore these women because they are really the first, like the Baby Boomers were about health/beauty, to show the world that fitness fashion matters.

Another factor is WELLNESS. It’s a category that has really grown in the past 10 years. Wellness pushed fusion workouts, retreats, workshops, festivals like Wanderlust and so much more into people’s awareness. You need clothes to wear to these things! Even if you’re not exercising…you have to look like you fit into the vibe of these events. The goal is to dress down, be sporty but still sexy, and to wear pieces that express your personal health/fitness values.

With wellness becoming so woven into our every day lives, of course the fashion world had to notice, right? And so it did! I credit Norma Kamali for leading this movement. She is one of the first designers in the early 2000’s to incorporate her personal workout routine (Physique57) into her designs, marketing and advertising. She even created a collection solely dedicated to the woman who wears athleisure all day long and NEVER misses a workout. She launched her Wellness Cafe, and I was personally honored to work with her on one of her Olive Oil skincare lines that I included in one of my Quarterly Boxes. Norma Kamali, now, is one of those designers who you almost forget started off as a dress designer because of all her accolades and wonderful contributions to health & wellness.

The movement has been making it’s way, in my opinion, through the vision of tenacious women who love fitness and wanted to find a way to fit it into their lives that reflected their personal styles. We are now seeing this exact thing on runways, as luxury collections are drawing inspiration from athletics and gym culture.

What can you explain how the collections develop in terms of luxury materials, cuts and silhouettes in the last seasons?
I’ll give you a great example of what’s happening right now. Derek Lam’s collaboration collection with Athleta is in my opinion the turning point of athleisure. It’s the movement’s biggest step forward. Half the collection is wearable for fitness, meaning you can actually sweat in it and throw it in the washer without a care. The other half features elements that I never thought were possible in athleisure—leather, extra thin poly’s that feel soft and silky at the same time and shell tanks with loud geometrical designs that you’d only think a fashion model could pull off. All of this is happening, and the every day fitness woman is responding with massive praise.

Especially over the leather jackets and shorts that are meant to be worn for outdoor workouts and were even made to be washable…although I’d be careful with that if you want it to look as good as when you bought it. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was shown the loose leather workout tank. I was like “Seriously? This is real leather made for fitness?” And the answer from head designer Elizabeth Giardina was “Yes, we made it so that you could wear it for whatever you want but the idea is that after you work out, when you’re in the locker room, this is what you can change into to look amazing for the next thing you’re heading out to.” For most people that’s home, but for the average 20 or 30-something, that could be out for a drink, on a date, to an event, a work dinner, and they want to look GOOD.

I’m seeing looser styles in leathers and tops and more layering in bottoms. For example, a black leather derek lam gym short over a silky finish black legging. Moto-chic is STILL very much trending and continue to pop up in athleisure designs.

As far as cuts, I really do see it all. From tight mono-colored tank dresses with race stripes down the sides to baggy heather gray sweatshirts with mantras like KALE UNIVERSITY written across the top. I’d say color blocking and tennis fashion is OUT, though. We’re always going to see the most stylish evolutions in running and yoga gear since that is what consumers shop most for.

How will the athleisure market develop?
It’s going to keep evolving, using more functional fabrics that like Derek Lam’s collection can be thrown into the washer/dryer without much consequence. We are going to see more advancements in fabrics. Clothing will be much more integrated with fitness apps and tech. Pretty soon your workout tank or pullover will be tracking some kind of fitness activity, or begging you to wear it for a run. Yes, clothes will eventually start talking to us, I’m convinced of it! Also, what I’m seeing now that’s so cool is that the inside of many cold weather accessories is not fuzzy and warm but has a shiny, reflective fabric that helps insulate you with your own body heat. I believe athleisure will follow suit in this regard and begin to use high performance fabrics that are being used for hot and cold gear.

It’s already happening but influencers and celebrities will continue to hawk athleisure and incorporate more fitness into their lifestyle and work. I see many of the most famous fashion bloggers being interviewed about their workout clothes. While I don’t always agree with their choices, I do like the fact that athleisure is introducing more and more people to the idea of working out every day.

Read more about activewear in our latest Sportswear International Magazine: Best of Activewear 2015.