When it comes to activewear trends, our editors have been hearing that shoppers are becoming more and more swayed by technology over pretty prints, so we decided to grill a leggings designer to discover what you should really look for when investing in a new pair.
"The biggest advancements havecertainly come with both the fabric and finishing of the legging," Lara Mead, designer and CEO of L.A.-based brand Varley, explains. "Fabrics are more supportive, while regulating temperature and wicking moisture more efficiently. Laser cutting and bonding allow for less bulky details and seams. Seamless leggings have also become a staple activewear piece because the fit and support given is excellent.
"Mesh styles offer added ventilation, while giving a more striking look. Laser cutting (a precise method to cut materials) is extremely popular at the moment as it is a more advanced option for ventilation. In comparison to mesh, it feels more lightweight and natural and doesn't rub agains the skin."
When it comes to the optimum amount of elastic in leggings, it turns out there's not one rule with this—it really depends on the fabric mix. Laura says: "It's not an easy question to answer—our Moss/Lolux fabric has 24% blended with polyester and is geared more towards flexibility and movement. However, our Letelux/Performance fabric that we'll be using in our 2018 collections has 29% blended with polyamide and is more compressive; this suits high-impact activities really well."
So what does all of this talk about polyamide and laser cutting actually mean for your leggings shopping? "I'd say it's essential to find the key things you want from your leggings," Laura recommends. "What fabric, what colour, print, what rise, what length — most of those directly link to fit and feel. The more comfortable and better the fit, the more wearable and functional they are."
"You should always look for a pair that hold you and provide support, but don't restrict your movements," she adds. "Comfort really is the most important detail!" And if you're wanting something to give your bottom a Kardashian-esque lift, she says the key is to go for a higher waistband: "It'll compress you waistline making it look smaller but your bum more lifted."
Next up, see our guide to the best leggings to wear to the gym according to London's coolest personal trainers.