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The Plus Factor: And why there are printed leggings in our logo


Printed leggings are here to stay
(A watershed moment for printed leggings: Of-the-moment looks from Mara Hoffman, NO KA'OI, and Vie Active)

Well+Good is your healthiest relationship, hooking you up with the best, most interesting things/people/leggings in wellness. And nothing gets at this concept better than the plus-sign in our logo, which acts like a gallery window where we showcase the most exciting, transformative objects and ideas that add wellness to your life. And this week we’re spotlighting the undeniable rise of the printed legging…

Maybe this happened last week: You were in your Pilates class doing a Corkscrew. Suddenly, you realized you were surrounded by legs wrapped in colorful, wild prints and you thought, “Did I die and wake up in a 1991 Deee-Lite video?”

Maybe it’s the ’90s fashion revival. Or perhaps everyone just unanimously decided to start dressing like Ilana on Broad City. Whatever the reason, graphic, eye-popping leggings are everywhere in yoga studios, spin classes, boot camps, grocery stores (hey, who has a minute to change en route home?), and even the office.

We are now in a leggings Renaissance. While fitness studios used to be a sea of compression-y black leggings, and stores simply varied the length or the pockets, prints became a way to assert your fashion personality and your fitness tribe.

Take a look at workout-fashion hub Carbon38, and you’ll find leggings from Onzie, Vie Active, Mara Hoffman, and No Ka’oi inspired by everything from graphic art and African prints to Hawaiian culture.

[They are] futuristic, original and entirely fresh, grabbing for the spotlight like the way “it” bags used to.

But we aren’t just talking retro. The new Paku Print pant from cutting edge label No Ka’oi is futuristic, original and entirely fresh, grabbing for the spotlight like the way “it” bags used to. “Fabulous designers [like No Ka’oi] are reinventing how we look at leggings,” says Katie Johnson, co founder of Carbon38. “And to me it’s a sign of how activewear is infiltrating fashion, because you will see these kinds of looks showing up in ready to wear labels like Helmut Lang.”

Is there scientific proof that color affects performance? About 10 years ago, anthropologists at Durham University in England found that athletes in the 2004 Olympics who wore red instead of blue in boxing, tae kwon do, and wrestling won 60 percent of the time, positing that red subconsciously symbolizes dominance.

The relationship of color and psychology has a long way to go, but all you really need to do is behold the gorgeous looks from fashion weeks in Ghana or Mumbai—cultures way less afraid of color—and you understand how vivid print awakens the spirit.

And that’s an energy we can all channel during our HIIT classes, a dance workout, or vinyasa class. The new wave of bright crazy prints feels less like a trend and more like a watershed realization in athletic wear: You don’t have to be somber while you sweat.

Are leggings the new skinny jeans? If so, here are Well+Good readers’ faves for an active day to a night out