Luxury fashion houses are embracing 'athleisure' with $1,000 leggings

Designer leggingsNet-A-Porter (right); Barneys New York (left)Brands like Lucas High (right) and Paco Rabanne (left) make leggings in the $US400-$US500 range.

Fashion critics may have to change their stance on whether leggings qualify as pants. 

As designer leggings fetch prices equal to and exceeding the cost of a pair of Manolo Blahniks, the $US1.1 billion industry is booming.

Why are people paying $US500 to $US1,000 (or more) on what’s basically stretchy workout pants?

With the “athleisure” trend holding firm, designers have given the gym staple a brand-new look, mixing materials, adding patterns, and playing with texture.

Selling for $US1,150 and $US550, respectively, Brunello Cucinelli and Donna Karan have gone as far as designing cashmere leggings. But make no mistake: those high price tags aren’t limited to leggings made from expensive fabrics and skins.

A standard pair of black, pull-on Givenchy leggings goes for $US1,175 on Farfetch.com. And Alexander McQueen gets $US1,385 for its brightly coloured leopard leggings, pictured above. 

As noted by the New York Post, celebrities and stylish city-dwellers are hitting the red carpet and the street in their high fashion leggings. According to Brook Jaffe, fashion director of Bloomingdale’s, whom the paper spoke with, the sneaker trend has helped popularise printed designer leggings, which are flying off the department store’s racks.  

Lululululemon.comThe new designer leggings make $US100 leggings from athletic brands seem like a steal.

But many will say that it all started with lululemon and its $US100 yoga pants, which begat similarly priced workout pants from brands like Stella McCartney (Adidas by Stella McCartney), Free People (FP Movement), and, just recently, ROWLEY Fitness, by Cynthia Rowley.    

Whether you believe leggings are pants or not, they’re not going anywhere. In fact, they could even start replacing pants.  

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