What’s trending in men’s fashion on Miami University’s campus?
You may not have guessed it, but luxury athleisure and it’s main brand ambassador, Lululemon, dominate the streets of Oxford.
I was determined to find out why.
Originally a clothing line for female yogis, Lululemon specializes in technical athletic apparel that has become the go-to brand for male students. Lululemon provides quality product while emphasizing the customer experience through integrity, balance, entrepreneurship, greatness and fun, according to the company’s mission.
Seniors Luke Dillon and Steve Wainz are both proud of their Lulu collections and the way they accessorize the brand with shoes and hats from different stores.
But, more importantly, athleisure allows them to dress on auto-pilot. They don’t have to think about what they’re wearing because it’s easy, comfortable and accessible.
Plus, the brand itself isn’t flashy or boldly plastered across the front of t-shirts and athletic shorts, unlike brands such as UnderArmor, Nike or Adidas from more affordable outlets like TJMaxx, Marshall’s or Target.
“Those [brands] aren’t made for leisure wear,” Wainz argued. “They are more for working out. There is more utility with Lululemon.”
In recent years, Miami fashion has significantly transformed. Students are leaving familiar “preppy” trends in their closets at home.
“I remember wearing my Patagonia vest all the time freshman year,” Wainz said.
“I’m a big hoodie guy now,” Dillon said.
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Before they came to Miami, both expected to conform to the preppy stereotype that influenced the way they dressed in high school — college polos and khakis commanded his wardrobe.
“Freshman year, I was super preppy. I wore a lot of J. Crew because I went to a Catholic school and their pants were so comfortable and fit me well,” Wainz said.
The clothes fit the preppy stigma Wainz thought he had to conform to.
But, after a few weekends going Uptown he realized the typical “going-out” outfit: button down, J. Crew shorts and loafers was impractical. He needed clothes to adapt to his new college lifestyle.
Plus, the rotation from class, gym, library and bars does not leave time for thoughtful styling.
“I don’t really care much about what I wear anymore,” Dillon said. “I have so many clothes here, but I wear the same thing all the time.”
Wearing stretchy gym shorts to class is not a new concept for men in college, but at Miami, guys are willing to dish out more money for comfort than previous generations because no other brand gives him the versatility.
Dillon agrees, that versatility allowed him to wear Lulu clothes over the summer while working at an internship in Austin, Texas and believes that “our generation is defined by stretchy pants.”
Who would have thought a Canadian women’s athletic line would find its way to the workplace?
But men’s Lululemon apparel has different levels of athleisure. Sporty polos and jogger pants make for a polished look that is also comfy and the product line is universal. Both Dillon and Wainz proudly wear their Lululemon in class and when they head to the bars.
Before going out with his friends, Wainz chills out in his apartment.
“I call it t-shirt time,” he explained. “I’ll wear my Lulu shorts and a regular tee before, but when I’m ready to go I throw on my fresh shirt and always change my shoes.”
He discovered the change was necessary after his khaki shorts and loafers were destroyed by the grime of Oxford bars.
But Lululemon is not an investment all Miami students are willing to make.
While Dillon and Wainz “don’t mind the price point,” because “they have great customer service,” it’s not worth it for students who can’t afford the luxury athleisure trend.
Junior Stephen Levy doesn’t see the point.
“For exercise clothing, I wear really cheap stuff,” he explained. “Because, it is usually something I just sweat in anyway.”
Levy buys his own clothes, with advice from his parents and girlfriend, which usually consists of American Eagle for casual wear, but he’s more willing to spend money on formal clothing brands like Ralph Lauren.
“When I think of Lululemon, I think of girls yoga pants,” Levy said. “So, as a guy, I just don’t seem to gravitate towards the brand.”
But, for many Miami guys, it is not just an exercise clothing brand, but a lifestyle.