Millennials Are Changing The Fashion World In A Very Comfortable Way

by Gillian Fuller

Alexander McQueen once said, “fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.”

The late designer was hailed for his ingenuity and tendency to go against the grain. He, like many other designers, was a master at making the un-fashionable stylish, turning the unexpected into something to be coveted and revered.

Though McQueen is no longer with us, he shaped the fashion world in a way that no other designer could ever hope to.

Women learned that it's okay to be subversive, to wear something not “trendy” because it can still be beautiful so long as we make it our own.

We learned that there is no anti-fashion, only people who don’t know how to do it right.

We still channel the tastemakers — the designers and the celebrities who first wear their designs — in what we wear and how we wear it, but many are not for the masses: Not everyone can pull off a sheer dress like Rihanna or a bondage-inspired frock like Miley.

That’s why the latest trend has the potential to change the way everyone experiences fashion.

The “trend” in question — I put trend in quotes because I hate the conformity that the word implies — is exercise apparel as high fashion. It’s accepted by the high-fashion world because it's new and unexpected, but pleases the masses because it’s accessible.

Sportswear has the potential to close the gap between the rich and the poor, the famous and the everyday. It's universal.

Designers including Theory, Betsey Johnson and Stella McCartney have all ventured into the world of activewear, putting their signature high-end touches on garments designed for sweating.

And unlike the signature collections, workout wear hovers around a reasonable price point, making that Stella McCartney x Adidas tennis dress a compelling buy for the fashion-conscious but budget-bound.

 Affordable glam: Stella McCartney Barricade Jacket, $110, at

Even higher fashion, too, has appropriated everyday athletic wear: Karl Lagerfeld famously sent sneaker-clad models down his Spring ’14 runway, while Alexander Wang debuted a bevy of sporty jackets and track pants at his Fall ’14 show.

But it's the masses who benefit most from the proliferation of sportswear.

I mean, given the choice of painful, blister-inducing stilettos and casual, comfy sneakers, who the hell wouldn’t pick the latter if it wouldn’t destroy their sartorial karma?

Laidback luxe: Isabel Marant leather sneakers, $475, at Net-a-Porter.

Also, athletic gear is monumentally less expensive than those $600 Helmut Lang leather leggings that you just had to have. And, for the first time, it's acceptable to wear in public.

Workout wear is now celebrated, touted as a veritable high-fashion trend. Even Beyoncé, Queen of Glam, rocks the trend (and has teamed up with Topshop to design her own line).

So, why the change? Why is it okay to wear glorified sweats and call it fashion?

I propose the newfound acceptance of the ultra-causal is due mostly, if not wholly, to Millennials.

We're the new generation, dominating the workforce, inventing new gadgets, coding apps and writing the blogs you read on your morning commute. And because we are the new adults, we’re changing the climate to suit our needs -- sans the suit.

We want to succeed, and we want to be comfortable doing it. We’re not going to adhere to old standards and dress codes simply because we're supposed to.

We’re going to change the rules until they work for us.

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Wear to work: Splendid rayon voile track pant, $118, at

And while we've yet to see if the trend will survive, the point is that it's new and it's ours. We made it happen.

For the first time ever, we are the source of fashion’s inspiration because we are calling all of the shots.