It’s time to toss those bland, monotone leggings of yesteryear because fitness fashion today is all about self-expression and looking—and feeling—good while getting fit.

That’s the premise behind Anjali, a New Jersey-based yoga clothing line that uses fabric made from rPET (recycled) water bottles.

Co-founder Kristinn Sigridarson calls their legging designs “artwork that reminds us, and all that see it, of the inherent beauty and goodness that resides in each and every one of us.” The brand believes that activewear should keep wearers looking cool on and off the mat.

At Evolve Fit Wear, an online shop that curates emerging activewear brands that are mainly USA-made with environmentally-friendly or recycled fabrics, outreach and content manager Laura Helms says this year camouflage, nature and animal-inspired prints are the most popular patterns spicing up the once-basic yoga legging.

Much like art, colorful, bold workout wear is a fun way for people to express their individuality. “An interesting print with a shot of color can make an outfit exciting and light up a room,” says Sigridarson, “. . . every print has its own unique personality and energy.”

Helms says that for years women wore standard black leggings to “hide their curves,” but two trends in the last decade were catalysts for a big style switch-up: yoga and the movement to embrace individual body types.

At the same time that women started “feeling more confident and ready to try new styles, colors and patterns in their workout wardrobe, emerging designers . . . began to notice the lack of fun and inspired options in activewear and began the printed legging revolution that we now see,” Helms explains.

And it’s not just prints that are shaking up the legging, but also texture. Mesh cutouts and glossy fabrics are now commonly seen in yoga studios as well as on the streets.

When it’s time to get sweaty, Helms recommends wearing graphic tees with yoga-inspired sayings or solid-color tops. That way, printed leggings don’t look too busy.

When wearing prints off the mat, however, she pairs her colorful leggings with boots and oversized sweaters.
Looking forward, Helms and the Evolve Fit Wear company expect the gym-to-street style, called “athleisure” wear, to continue to change how leggings are worn. “Emerging designs are more high-fashion and versatile than ever, and we look forward to this bringing us some really exciting looks in the next year.”

—Allison Montroy