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Is activewear the new celebrity perfume?

(Photo: Calia)
Carrie Underwood is the latest celeb to launch an activewear line (Photo: Calia)

Stamping her name on a perfume bottle used to be every celebrity’s go-to move when it came to mass branded merchandise. Now, of-the-moment actresses, models, and rockstars have shifted towards a less (deliberately) fragrant kind of product: activewear.

Consider the recent examples: Heidi Klum has a collection for New Balance, and Kate Hudson launched her own fitness fashion brand, Fabletics, last year. Beyonce is poised to release an activewear line with Topshop in fall 2015, and sister Solange Knowles just released her second sneaker collab with Puma. Most recently, country music star Carrie Underwood announced her forthcoming fitness apparel brand, Calia, and Rihanna was named the new creative director of Puma.

The trend is yet another reflection of the expanding importance of fitness and athleticism (or at least the appearance of it) within the pop culture zeitgeist.

New York City-based artist Sophia Chang is among the many influencers who’ve created brands around health and wellness (and she recently released her second collection for Puma). “Fitness and fashion fusion is trending big time right now,” Chang says. “These celebrities probably spend so much time in the gym to perfect their look, and they’re probably looking for a side passion project. You put two and two together, and voila!”

But Chang says that unlike with perfume, a celebrity name stamped on just any activewear probably doesn’t guarantee brand success in the same way. “You can’t fake it and make it in fitness,” she explains. “The activewear world needs a good product. Fitness needs to match with form, design, and functionality. Obviously a celebrity name will definitely pave the way, but good product will lead the sales.”

Kate Hudson modeling her fitness fashion line, Fabletics. (Photo: Fabletics)

Of course, it’s hard to tell, even when asked, how involved many of these celebrities are with the actual design of the leggings and tanks that bear their names.

Fabletics chief stylist Ginger Ressler, for one, says the design process is a collaborative one between her and Kate Hudson. “We each bring our takes on fashion trends and aspects of our lives as busy working moms,” she says. And, of course, Ressler says Hudson’s public profile helps the brand to really sell the active lifestyle (and the clothes you need to live it.) “Kate is a woman who lives life on the go, balancing kids and her career, while staying committed to leading an active lifestyle. She plays an important role in inspiring and empowering women to look and feel their best,” she says.

After all, in the end, whether you buy something because of its sweat-wicking properties or because of a love for Almost Famous, it can only be a good thing when people are inspired by celebs to hit the gym, right? —Jamie McKillop