Get set: The best sportswear brands for women

Zoe Gunn

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14 January 2022

Vowed to find a new love for fitness? Take your workout game to the next level with these brilliant athleisure brands

14 January 2022 Zoe Gunn | If you purchase something via our website, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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ew Year, New You? No, thanks. Whether you're a dedicated yogi or prefer to hit the road in your favourite running shoes, working out should be a pleasure. It is, however, hard to get the most of out an exercise class when you're worried about saggy shorts and subpar sports bras. Even if you're still tuning into at-home workouts, isn’t it time your treated yourself to exercise gear that’s up to scratch? Kit yourself out with our pick of the best activewear and athleisure brands for women…

Lululemon

Let’s start with a heavy hitter – because in the activewear world they don’t come much bigger than Lululemon. Founded by Chip Wilson in Vancouver in 1998, many credit the brand’s early stylish yet functional yoga-focused apparel with creating the entire athleisure category. Fast forward two decades and the brand remains at the top of its game, with 491 stores around the world and a range that features clothing and accessories for men and women as well as events, festivals and an online community of ardent fans.

The key to Lululemon’s success is its nine patented materials, each designed to enhance a specific sport or activity, from light yoga and walking to long runs and hardcore gym workouts. Keep an eye out for the brand's frequent collaborations with artists and designers for something statement to add to your gym wardrobe.

Key piece: Wunder Train HR tight leggings, £88

Fabletics

Founded in 2013, Fabletics has been outfitting fitness fans across the pond with high-tech gym gear and sport-specific styles for nearly a decade – and, as of late 2021, it's landed in the UK. Alongside an expansive new store on Regent Street, Fabletics' products are available online, meaning you can finally get your hands on its huge range of leggings with variable compression, three grades of sports bra and vast array of loungewear. While everything can be bought one-off, the true genius of Fabletics is its membership programme, which currently boasts more than 2 million members. Membership costs £49 per month and unlocks discounts of up to 50 per cent, monthly member credits to spend on any item worth up to £80 and full access to all the workouts, guided meditation sessions and expert advice on the Fabletics Fit app. 

Key piece: No-Bounce high impact sports bra, £69

Live The Process

Uber-chic American activewear brand Live The Process has become quite the new normal saviour thanks to an offering that runs the gamut from sweat-wicking workout gear to cashmere loungewear that's smart enough for any Zoom meeting. The emphasis here is on slow, mindful but effective forms of exercise, such as yoga, Pilates and barre, and the activewear offering reflects this with a series of flattering leggings, bodysuits, crop tops and co-ords that will have you feeling great before you even step on the mat.

Key piece: Corset jumpsuit, £165

Sweaty Betty

The UK’s answer to Lululemon, Sweaty Betty was founded in Notting Hill in 1998 by husband and wife team Simon and Tamara Hill-Norton with the goal of changing the way women think about exercise. Each of its collections is inspired by the couple’s travels, often resulting in brightly patterned pieces, and tested extensively to make sure they keep up with whatever your workout routine throws at them. Now with 62 stores internationally, the Sweaty Betty brand is about more than just exercise gear. The company offers a full complement of workout videos, recipes and tips on healthy living via its website and also encourages girls and young women to become empowered through physical activity via the Sweaty Betty Foundation.

Key piece: After class sweatshirt, £65

Ivy Park

Founded by Beyoncé in 2016, and named both for her daughter Blue Ivy Carter and Parkwood Park in Houston where she used to work out, Ivy Park harnesses the sporting expertise of Adidas and the star's famed style to create collections which blur the lines between fashion and sportswear. Now in its fifth 'season', the latest range features houndstooth-print leggings, long-sleeved crop tops perfect for winter runs and gender-neutral hoodies and track pants, alongside more fashion-forward pieces including zipped bralettes and latex bodysuits. And if it's good enough for Beyoncé...

Key piece: Hooded shrug, £70

Varenna

Combining the excellence of Made In Italy craftsmanship with modern sustainability and fabric technology, Varenna is the activewear brand designed for those who like their workouts to come with a side of dolce vita. Unashamedly feminine, each piece is made from recycled fibres and designed in line with emerging fashion trends while utilising high performance, breathable and water-repellant materials to ensure ultimate comfort and range of motion.

Key piece: Long-sleeve tank, £90

Holland Cooper

Founded in 2008 to celebrate the best in British elegance, style and fabric production, you probably know Holland Cooper best for its tailored tweeds and equestrian gear. In 2021 the brand launched its first activewear collection, Holland Cooper Studio, offering a range of leggings, sweats and training gear suitable for both the gym and lounging. High-tech fabrics have been used for supreme comfort, ventilation and sweat-wicking, while post-workout pieces have been crafted in a cosy soft cotton blend, and each features thoughtful design touches, such as crossover waistbands and adjustable hems, for versatility and confidence when working out.

Key piece: Studio Cross Over leggings, £79

Read more: London's best high-end gyms and health clubs