An influencer, a marketing manager and a journalist walk into a hotel…what followed was painful, sweaty and eye-opening to at least two of this motley crew.
The hotel in question was the award-winning Jackalope Hotel on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and the reason was to test the strength and endurance of not the "lucky" guinea pigs invited but what has become Australia's most popular online purchase –activewear.
Dressed for the occasion
It's no secret that Australians are an outdoors-y folk fond of working up a sweat, whether it's the coastal beach babes of Sydney and fellow east coast cities or rapid rise of the cult fitness fads such as CrossFit, F45 and soon to drop Barry's Bootcamp. This love of staying active and getting out into nature has meant that fashion in Australia, and its driving trends, has always erred towards the comfortable, the practical and the athletic.
"Australian living is the personification of an athleisure lifestyle as our customers there embrace casual wear and sportswear," says Daniel Todd, buyer for online retailer Mr Porter.
Speaking to Executive Style about the historically smart casual and tailoring focused website's transition to sport-focused collections, Todd says that Aussies are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the consumption of activewear.
"The lifestyle transitions fluidly from work to beach, and it is also one of the most vibrant countries where sport, outdoors and beachwear is a big part of the everyday life. The fashion is more relaxed, more casual and less formal. That's why Australia is one of our top markets for athleisure, sports and lifestyle products."
Casual, yet versatile
For anyone who has been following the "rise of athleisure", its gradual introduction into every area of life – yes, including the office – is no surprise. And it has as much to do with a growing group of style conscious gents looking for a wardrobe filled with pieces that work in multiple scenarios, blending the best of both worlds as it were.
"There is no doubt that there is a change in needs for a better balance between work and lifestyle," agrees Todd.
"Customers are looking for clothing that could fit in a work environment, yet comfortable enough for them to enjoy other activities after working hours. On the other hand, I do believe that the athleisure trend is growing for designers…trying to push the limit and blur the lines between our perception of what is considered formal and informal in terms of fashion and style."
But then, athleisure and activewear's appeal could also be due to a small matter of size.
Australia's sporting culture, from football to the rapid growth in popularity of calisthenics-based fitness fads such as CrossFit comes with the side effect of blokes who are packing more bulk than your average Insta-stylist. From heavier shoulders, chests wider than Bondi Beach and stacked legs, gents are finding the fit of the average shirt or classic pants no longer applies.
In other words, it's hard to dress them gains in tailored pieces from more traditional brands unless you're getting made to measure.
In contrast, activewear's more flexible fit provides a much easier investment, especially when it comes to buying online where you can't try before you buy. Another reason, potentially, that luxury labels are broadening their offering to include clothes that cater to the heftier of us, as seen as recently as Milan Fashion Week with Zegna Couture mixing sport and tailoring, and Prada's mixed bag of functionality and form. Locally, it has seen brands such as P.E. Nation and The Upside fly off the shelves of both virtual and bricks-and-mortar stores.
"I think we have seen a lot of brands putting their own spin on the athleisure trend but the product is usually more on the lifestyle side of things rather than overly technical," suggests Todd.
"I'm a big Prada fan and for me they're one of the best brands for mixing sports inspired product into your everyday wardrobe."
The dos and don'ts
Rocking great sportswear isn't rocket science – in fact, the primary goal is to be as comfortable as possible.
But mixing it into your daily wardrobe, in any given situation, does take a little forethought.
The pants or the shirt
Following the similar high-low concept of vintage pieces and top end luxury designers – team the technical tracksuits, such as those by Berluti with a collared shirt and knit for smart juxtaposition. This also makes it easier when you hit the actual gym later in the day and all you need to pack in your bag is a t-shirt or singlet.
Avoid sloppy finishes
Unlike the current trend in tailored garments, keep your athleisure fitted for streamlined, more cleaner silhouette. This presents a much more polished finish and hides the fact that, ultimately, you're really wearing your sports kit to work. Or the bar.
Minimal and monochrome
When all else fails, black on black. This has multiple purposes - one, it presents a leaner physique, is easier to build a solid wardrobe on and also hides the signs of hitting the weights room hard aka sweat marks.
Check out the gallery above to see the best selection of sports and activewear available on Mr Porter.
The writer was a guest of Mr Porter.