Once upon a time, there used to be a handful of oversized T-shirts, a few track pants, and a pair of “sports shoes” relegated to an obscure corner of a man’s wardrobe that would occasionally make an appearance for a visit to the gym or some sporting activity. Not anymore. The millennial man is all about work-life balance. With fitness being an integral part of his everyday life and routine, traditional gym gear doesn’t cut it anymore. With more and more men including different types of physical activities in their daily regimen, there has been a growing demand for versatile garments that are comfortable, functional, and can adapt to perform across activities. 

Celebrity fashion stylist Eshaa Amiin credits the growing health consciousness among Indians as a key factor that has led to the increase in demand for activewear. “Activities like aerobics, swimming, cycling, running, yoga, and various dance forms havenow become a part of the average Indian’s life. There is a rise in health and wellness expenditure among Indian consumers, which has contributed to the segment’s growth, and activewear fits the bill since it is a combination of trendy sportswear and relaxed apparel.” The need for multipurpose clothing that can be worn to exercise as well as post it, is one of the major reasons why men’s activewear in India is burgeoning and constantly evolving. Amiin further adds, “All in all, the activewear category fits well with a major consumer demographic of India — the millennial consumer — who is always looking for an option that fills the gap between sportswear and trendy clothes, helping them switch effortlessly between work and workout.” 

“When it started way back, the brands only catered to basics in activewear. Now we have tremendous quality, range of products — catering to all categories of fitness and sport as well,” states Sanaa A Khan, Head of Styling — Catalogue & Creative at Ajio. Today’s consumers want to streamline their wardrobes, and activewear apparel ticks more than one box and offers multifunctional clothing that can be worn to exercise in as well as perform everyday activities. Khan, too, attributes versatility as one of the primary factors for its rapidly increasing popularity. HRX, one of India’s first and most popular homegrown activewear brands, has understood the Indian consumer’s requirements, and offers a diverse variety of activewear clothing. Pallavi Barman, business head at HRX, believes, “The fine line between activewear and streetwear has become fuzzy, especially with the Gen Z, who are very comfortable living in activewear.” This is exactly why, along with the basics, HRX’s latest collection offers matching sets, loungewear, jackets for layering, tees with colour accents, everyday functionals, and quirky accessories. “We have also incorporated deep crotch shorts for mobility, and muscle tees using panelled tracks to enhance the overall look for men,” Barman adds.

Whether you’re looking for stylish clothing for online meetings or comfortable pieces to relax at home, or you want clothes that you can wear to workout before heading for lunch, we share our picks of the best homegrown brands and their absolute must-have products.

Zymrat

If there is a homegrown brand that took the concept of performance and harnessed it into innovation and technology-led activewear wear, it is Zymrat. The brand’s first IP product, SuperSilva Tees, has sustainable silver ion technology for permanent odour removal. The Centurion T-shirt is the brand’s lightest offering yet, and weighs around just 100 grams. It is made using the jacquard fabric, sporting dual patterns for faster sweat-wicking and quick drying. One of the brand’s bestsellers, the Breathe-In Shorts, is lightweight, breathable, and highly durable. The brand provides a blend of activewear and workwear that is comfortable to stay in for a prolonged period.

Baller Athletik

Launched in 2019, Baller Athletik is already supplying kits to key players in the IPL, the ISL, Pro Kabaddi, and even Olympians. This is India’s first and only activewear brand making performance clothing infused with a bioceramic mineral matrix, which helps capture naturally emitted FIR (Far Infrared) energy from the body and gives it back to you. The wearable technology quality of the clothing helps improve movement, flexibility, and stability, and provides active muscle recovery whilst you rest. Combining innovative technology with smart design, the brand believes in providing versatile apparel that can be dressed up or down, and can work as the main piece for an AM to PM look. The brand is also known for its aesthetic athleisure, including signature zip jackets and lounge joggers to relax post- workout and enhance blood circulation and improve sleep.

Van Huesen’s Flex

Newly launched sub-brand of Van Heusen, Flex stands for fashion and functionality. The range offers new-age-high-fashion- meets-athletics-performance clothing crafted for modern-day professionals. The brand has technologies like antimicrobial to keep odour out, easy dry that prevents sweating and dries quickly, ergonomic design, fabric with high stretchability and durability and innovative “reflect technology” with reflective elements that glow in the dark. Products come in sizes S to XXL, and range from essential workout items like T-shirts and shorts to jackets and joggers, sweatshirts, and track pants.

Athflex

Looking for vibrant coloured activewear that makes a statement inside and outside the gym? Meet Athflex. The brand offers everything from bright solids to soft pastels, and uses state-of-art design and fabrics to provide the best in activewear, sports, and casual clothing. They have shorts exclusively for running, jogging, cycling, and weightlifting, and a designated winter collection and adventure sports collection. One of their stand-out products is the bright colour stingers, which can be worn for a workout session and can be styled casually too, and the Flex On 2.0 T-shirts that can be styled for a day-to-night occasion.

Fitkin

Fitkin’s mantra is: from walk to work and from work to workout, the journey needs to be seamlessly smooth, and should motivate you to go the extra mile, break your own record, and celebrate every little achievement. The brand’s premium activewear has Training Tank sleeveless hoodies, sports jackets, slim fit track pants, textured and pattern T-shirts and graphic tank tops, suitable for training, running, and sporting activity.

Hidelt

Specialising in performance activewear apparel, HideIt provides boundless clothing that can be worn throughout the day. With utmost attention paid to comfort, durability, and style, the clothes are made from sweat-wicking and anti-odour fabric to help keep you dry and move fast. The brand believes that movement should be unrestricted, and it reflects in its clothing. Fashionable and functional, Hidelt pieces can be worn from a HIIT session to a brunch to a weekend getaway.