Back then, if you said ‘gym clothes’, people would picture baggy sweats and ratty shirts. Nowadays, ‘activewear’ or ‘athleisure’ has sleek, stylish leggings and comfy shorts that are right on trend, both in and out of the gym! What are activewear clothing trends in 2021, and where can you get wholesale activewear in Australia, how to choose the best fabrics for activewear manufacturing? Find out more about the most popular sports clothing now in this article!

What Is Activewear?

“Activewear is casual, comfortable clothing suitable for sport or exercise.”  To offer a short and comprehensive definition of activewear we started by looking it up in the dictionary. In real life, Activewear marries style and function, so you can wear these items even when you’re not planning to hit the gym!

When you refer to ‘activewear’ now, you’re referring to clothes that are meant to be a transition between working out and dressing casually, so they’re for people who live active lifestyles. That’s why they may have the same comfy materials, but they’re not designed for any specific sport the way sportswear is.

What’s missing in the description provided above is the element of style and fashion. Activewear, apart from being created to help athletes and sportspeople wear something comfy and supportive to the gym or other physical activity, offers stylish attributes that complete the look. It can be worn both during exercising and in other casual scenarios, where there is no physical activity involved. It can be the best answer when you are looking for clothing to relax in, spend time with friends, or go to the local coffee shop for a drink. 

Recommended fabrics of activewear manufacturers

Whether you want to stick to simple natural fibers or try the latest breakthroughs, you should find the right activewear fabric for your body. When most of us think of technical fabrics, we think of stretchy, breathable fabrics we can sweat in without feeling overly hot or cold. But there are many different fabrics that fit this description — from smooth or brush-backed jerseys to large- or fine-holed meshes, piques, and rib knits. There really is a technical fabric out there for just about every activity!

Natural Fibers

If you remember only one thing about natural fabrics, it should be that cotton is a terrible fabric for activewear (see sidebar). If you prefer to exercise in natural fibers, however, there are still some great alternatives.


It may seem incredible, but the same plant that feeds pandas can be pulped and processed into a rayon (viscose) fiber that’s soft, anti-microbial, durable, and wicking. Bamboo has gained attention recently for being an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fibers, but there’s some debate surrounding the eco-credentials of the processing used to turn the plant into the finished textile. Bamboo can be made into pretty much any type of fabric imaginable, but jerseys (with or without added spandex) are probably the most useful for activewear applications.

Merino wool

This fiber is a great choice for both cold or warm weather exercise as it’s warm, breathable, wicking, and antimicrobial. It’s also less scratchy than traditional wools and can be combined with spandex fibers to maintain recovery. It’s most often seen as jerseys and suiting fabrics and is becoming more common in casualwear, too.


In the sewing world, many of us are natural fiber snobs. The 1970s cast a long shadow over the world of synthetic fibers — memories of clingy, sweaty polyester shirts certainly die hard! But synthetic fabrics have come a long way since then and not all polyesters are created equal. Take a look at the labels of your ready-to-wear activewear and you’ll see that nearly all are made from polyester, and yet still allow you to sweat and feel cool while exercising.

This is because the new generation of technical fabrics is created to allow moisture through the weave and wick away from the body, where it can evaporate on the surface, keeping you cool. Technical fabrics can also be waterproof. It may sound like a contradiction, but some fabrics can be both breathable and waterproof, allowing you to get caught in a downpour but not feel steamy inside after a few hours of hiking.

Activewear trends 2021: popular styles from activewear vendors

Trend 1: Pastel pieces

If you’re looking to implement some color into your wardrobe, then adding some pastel hues is bang on-trend. Opt for lilac, peach, pale mint green, and aqua to refresh your look. In 2021, you can expect activewear color trends to include similar shades, especially in spring. These pair well with natural tones that have been so popular as of late, as well as items you likely already have such as black leggings or grey running shorts. 

Trend 2: Go seamless

One of the biggest women’s activewear trends of the moment is seamless pieces. Seamless activewear is extremely comfortable and breathable, fusing style with functionality. Activewear trend forecasting suggests seamless pieces are going to be big for the next year so you can be confident that adding these pieces to your collection will keep you oh so chic! Additionally, seamless tends to fit extremely well without any pinching, fussy lining, or annoying seams to scratch or bother during activity. 

Trend 3: Flares

Say hello to one of the biggest fall activewear trends – flares. Flared leggings are not just for yoga. They’re great for several kinds of active pursuits, including hiking and pilates. If you’re looking to upgrade a simple pair of black leggings, opt for flares. Flared leggings are also a flattering silhouette for more body shapes and tend to feel more breathable without the tightness of a standard legging. Pair with an on-trend white sneaker or wear barefoot at the beach. 

Trend 4: Long sleeves

Put away the vest top and tees, long-sleeved tops are here to stay. Whether you’re looking for a stylish women’s cropped long-sleeve top or one of the best men’s activewear trends, this piece makes a wardrobe staple. Many of the newest long-sleeve tops offer interesting and breathable fabrics that keep you cool, even with the fuller coverage they provide. Another upside is the UPF protection offered by extra fabric over the arms.

Trend 5: Sustainable 

Activewear trends got eco-friendly in 2020 with the rise of sustainable pieces. Sustainable activewear promises to be at the forefront of style for years to come so it’s never too early to start investing in environmentally conscious apparel. With thread made of recycled plastic bottles or deadstock fabric and more, sustainable activewear is changing the way we think about design and functionality. Especially relevant for those who enjoy nature while being active, it may be time to think about the planet when investing in your next wardrobe must-have – as now it’s easier than ever to buy eco-friendly activewear that performs beautifully. 

Trend 6: An ode to the ’90s

Think neon prints, oversized logos, and cropped tops. The ’90s is back and it’s bright, fun, and feisty. Both men and women can easily sport this trend – try adding an oversized sweater or classic trainers to give your look a 90’s edge. Mix and match with more muted pieces or go full-on with sets that take you to a place of colorful, artistic style.

Trend 7: Inclusive

More and more activewear brands are opting for a multitude of cuts and styles to suit every body shape. Expect comfortable fabrics and a variety of size ranges to provide fashionable activewear for those who want to work out and be stylish. The best brands today take care in how they size up and don’t simply keep proportions the exact same for every size. Look for careful consideration in fit, design, and performance. 

Trend 8: Animal 

Animal print isn’t just for the runway. Activewear goes exotic with animal prints to shake up your casualwear wardrobe. Whether you want to go bold in a statement jacket or add a little subtlety, there’s something for everyone!

Trend 9: Mesh

Lightweight and breathable, mesh pieces have certainly seen their fashion status rising throughout the year. If you’re considering sporting this trend, try a sheer mesh sweater or jacket. Alternatively, mesh detailing on leggings or shorts will keep you cooler during tough workouts, yet add a hint of on-trend fashion. 

Trend 10: Tie-Dye

Tie-dye has been everywhere this past few months, and you can expect it to be an activewear trend that will continue through to 2021. Invest in tank tops, tees and hoodies for a fashion-forward yet laid-back look. Better yet, try out a DIY tie-dye kit at home on some old shirts, hoodies, or shorts – it will be uniquely you and fun as well. 

Tips for startups searching for activewear wholesale suppliers

For small and medium-sized clothing companies, it is extremely important to find a high-quality and inexpensive clothing supplier. In fact, the activewear companies are also in the same situation, so how do you find suitable and sustainable sportswear manufacturers?
Here I personally recommend that you can inspect a clothing manufacturer from the following aspects:

  1. Production scale and qualifications, including the country in which it is located
  2. The lowest MOQ and the types of sportswear that can be produced
  3. Customer evaluation and experience of communicating with customer service
  4. Field visit!