There is simply no denying the motivational effects of a new set of matching activewear.
And with gyms set to reopen on 12 April, there’s no better time than now to invest in high-tech performance sportswear featuring pretty patterns and flattering cuts.
From high-street giants to stylish street-ready luxury boutiques and sustainable activewear brands with eco credentials, we’ve covered them all.
Here, then, are the best activewear brands guaranteed to boost both your mood and energy levels, to shop now and wear long after the lockdown lifts.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The brand with the three stripes. Loved by many, including us, this German manufacturer is known for producing hard-working, performance-driven sportswear that passes the sweat test every single time. From its popular boost running shoes to more modern pieces, Adidas is a go-to brand for HIIT, running and everything in between.
Asos offers an extensive roster of fitness brands, including Adidas, Nike and Reebok – but did you know it also has its own sportswear line named 4505? Expect minimalistic basics that work just as well for an afternoon catching up on Netflix as they do for pilates.
& Other Stories, Stories.com
A high street fashion favourite, & Other Stories has launched a new yoga collection in partnership with the Black Women’s Yoga Collective – and we want it all. Think pretty pastel pink v-cut halter yoga bras with thin straps and fun floral tights. The collection is made from recycled polyamide – so it’s sustainable, too.
Known for its minimal apparel, this Scandi brand focuses on simplicity, function and innovation across its activewear collection. Seamless, flattering and sustainable, Cos effortlessly fills a gap in the market for anyone who wants something technical, understated and on-trend without the large price tag.
Italian sportswear brand Ellesse is filled with fashion-forward, street-to-studio pieces, made in high-performance fabrics. Inspired by classic, retro sportswear, Ellesse features comfy, utilitarian cuts – we particularly like the high-neck, long-line crop tops.
When it comes to activewear, Swedish fast-fashion clothing company H&M offers affordable, no-fuss, beyond-the-gym staples. If you’re after basics like a pair of high-waisted, seamless black leggings or a racerback tank, look no further.
M&S’s Goodmove range is both affordable (sports bras are available from £12) and technical – they also use sustainable fabrics like recycled polyester. Featuring pretty designs, the printed leggings and lightweight running jackets are certain to make a statement.
New Balance, Newbalance.co.uk
New Balance isn’t globally recognised by accident. Just take a look at their running leggings and breathable tanks to witness their commitment to innovation. Forget trends; this sportswear brand is only interested in kit that actually enhances your workout, so you can always perform at your best.
With every fashion brand wanting to get into activewear, we have to pay tribute to the original king of the bracket, aka Nike. Say goodbye to boring shorts and tees and release your inner athlete with fashionable and functional sportswear. They’ve even recently launched their first dedicated maternity collection, Nike (M). So what are you waiting for? Just do it.
Under Armour, Underarmour.co.uk
Whether you’re striving for a flow-state run or weight training in your bedroom, Under Armour’s extensive product range is designed to steer you through your toughest workouts. Its latest technology – Iso Chill – provides additional breathability and ventilation via laser perforation.
Adidas by Stella McCartney, Adidas.co.uk
Renowned fashion designer Stella McCartney always pushes the boundaries, blurring performance activewear with whacky contemporary shapes and classic styles. Fashion-led and fitness-ready, the Beach Defender collection even offers sustainable, tactical performance wear designed for both the land and water.
Alo Yoga, Aloyoga.com
Hailing from Los Angeles, the home of healthy living, Alo Yoga Sportswear offers flattering and flexible yoga pieces designed to meet the needs of LA’s rich and famous. Bright colours such as neon apricot orange are sure to boost your mood (and everyone else’s).
Beyond yoga, Beyondyoga.com
Also from LA, Beyond Yoga cleverly merges comfort with a pared-back design. Their luxuriously soft fabrics, neutral colours and flattering designs are perfect for layering, and plead to be worn long after your yoga practice has finished.
Ernest Leoty, Net-a-porter.com
Once a maker of 19th-century Parisian corsets, Ernest Leoty has a rich history of graceful, feminine designs that are well worth the investment. From stretchy, sleek and supportive bodysuits to moisture-wicking, bright, compression-fit leggings, adding this label to your gym wardrobe will give it an immediate stylish update.
Another great premium sportswear brand that aims to create collections that look just as good around town as they do inside the gym is LNDR. Founded by three active, international women based in London who wanted to create a brand around "the lifestyle we want to live, the products we want to wear, and the people we wanted to hang out with", LNDR feels classic with its familiar sporty vibe. Wear a coordinating set to HIIT or a spin class.
Lorna Jane, Lornajane.co.uk
Born and raised in Australia, Lorna Jane has become an international success due to its confidence-boosting clothing. This female-owned label blends style, functionality and quality fabrics to remind women that being healthy doesn’t have to be about finding more time, eating less or trying to look like anyone else. Expect flattering cropped tanks and bike shorts in a refreshing colour palette.
Lululemon is one of the best-known (and most-loved) luxury sportswear brands in the world. Whether you’re a runner after sweat-wicking, flattering separates or a yogi needing second-skin, high-waisted leggings that won’t slip when you’re in a downward dog or attempting a headstand, this Canadian label is full of high-quality, timeless looks. We want everything.
PE Nation, Pe-nation.com
If you follow Kayla Itnes or Kelsey Wells on Instagram you’ll be familiar with this retro-inspired brand from Australia. Made for sweaty HIIT and strength sessions, PE Nation is filled with bold, boyish styles and sporty colour-block combinations.
Pocket Sport, Pocket-sport.com
Designed by Louise Thompson of Made and Chelsea fame, this up-and-coming activewear brand is made for modern lifestyles. Combining bold colours with flattering cuts, Pocket Sport offers functional matching sets that look great in and out of the studio.
Sweaty Betty, Sweatybetty.com
Designed by women, for women, this UK-based label – named after the founder’s determination to make it cool to sweat – is on a mission to empower women through fitness. Known for its unmissable colourful prints and high-tech fabrics (their power leggings are famous for a reason), Sweaty Betty is often the first pick from our workout wardrobe – we love its cutting-edge activewear as much as we love the brand ethos.
The Upside, Matchesfashion.com
If you like leopard or zebra print then you’ll love this chic activewear label from Australia. Made from technical fabrics in sophisticated silhouettes, The Upside will elevate your performance (and you’ll look cute in the process).
Designed in LA, produced in London, and made from Italian fabrics, Varley draws inspiration from city street-style scenes. There’s something very understated about Varley’s luxurious collections featuring sleek, open racerback designs and seriously soft staples. Be sure to size down though, as their kit comes up big.
Whether you’re getting fresh air on a hike or heading to a pilates class, BAM – Bamboo Clothing – makes athleisure that is “inspired by the planet and designed for adventure”. The best part about activewear made from bamboo jersey? Not only is it soft and breathable, it’s also guaranteed opaque – so the leggings are completely squat-proof.
After luxury activewear with a conscience? Then try this small British brand – Manchester based and London produced – with garments made from recycled Econyl. Perfect for yoga and pilates, we especially love their bestselling block rocker crop (£57, Conturuk.com). The brand has a way with colour too, combining bold block shades with a hint of gold shimmer detailing.
Girlfriend Collective, Girlfriend.com
This Seattle-based start-up launched with a bang state-side after it offered a free pair of leggings to its first customers – they ran out of stock on their first day. Since then, Girlfriend Collective has built a cult following by designing minimal, size-inclusive, eco-friendly pieces – 25 recycled water bottles make a single pair of its luxe compression leggings (£65, Matchesfashion.com). Expect pretty, Instagramable shades such as terracotta, powder blue and apricot, and high waistlines that don’t roll down.
Nimble Activewear, Nimbleactivewear.com
Bondi Beach-based label Nimble Activewear believes the very best workout wear is both practical and affordable. Engineered for “everyday athletes”, and made from used and recycled plastics, Nimble produces flattering cuts that hug you in all the right places in pretty colour palettes and feminine prints.
Olly Olly & Co, Ollyollyandco.com
Made from Econyl, a 100 per cent regenerated nylon yarn derived from pre- and post-industrial waste such as discarded fishing nets, this small start-up has huge potential. In an effort to save the ocean, one piece at a time, Olly Olly & Co truly puts sustainability at the heart of its designs.
Outdoor Voices, Outdoorvoices.com
Outdoor Voices, a New York-based brand, is on a mission to get the world moving. Products are made using sustainable textiles and responsibly sourced materials, including recycled polyester crafted from water bottles, and feature sharp silhouettes in understated colours. We adored their recent partnership with UK cycling brand, Rapha, and can’t wait to get our hands on one of the sporty Athena dresses.
Perff Studio, Perff.com
Every product Perff Studio produces is 100 per cent eco-friendly and 50 per cent made of recycled materials. Hailing from northern Portugal, the line’s technical performance fabrics and stylish cuts mean you can hit a cardio class then head straight out for coffee after and still look chic.
If you’re already a fan of Reformation’s beautiful dresses, then you’ll be sure to love their sustainable activewear range, too. Made with recycled plastic bottles, simple, stylish, square-neck crops meet high-rise leggings and Kylie Jenner-esque bike shorts – this is the cool girl’s solution to sustainable workout gear.
Made for movement on the mat, this London-based brand, founded by yoga teacher Phoebe Greenacre, is sustainable luxury activewear at its finest. Silou’s kind-to-the-planet designs feel soft against the body while the flattering, tailored cuts refuse to sacrifice on style. If you’re after an immediate confidence boost, then try one of their contemporary full-length bodysuits – perfect for yoga.
SOS Activewear, Sosactivewear.com
This small UK start-up aims to empower women through its simple yet timeless activewear, and to do so while upholding solid ethical credentials. Every piece is made from Econyl and recovered ocean plastics – and designed to be easily mixed and matched. SOS Activewear is a brand that can take you from barre to brunch and back again.
“Slow fashion, sustainable style” is Tala’s mantra. Created by 23-year-old influencer and Oxford University graduate Grace Beverly, if you’re looking for workout leggings that mould to your body, in bold colours made from upcycled, recycled materials or from factory offcuts that would have otherwise gone to landfill – then you’ll probably adore these.
We’ve found the best sustainable clothing brands for women who want a more ethical wardrobe