Phoenicians Accidentally Pioneered the Athleisure Fashion Trend
There she is, miss Arizona. There she is, wearing flip-flops in the dead of winter. The dream of a million girls who meant to get a pedicure last weekend but didn't because it's cold and they know nobody's looking at their toes.
This miss, however, is not crowned in sparkles and a sash. She is not one of a kind, let alone the queen of femininity. Instead, she wears the traditional cold-weather ensemble of the defiant Arizonan. At the dive bar, the grocery store, and in line at Starbucks, she stands with her weight on one leg, the other knee bent carelessly and covered by thick workout tights. She needs no jacket, for her collection of hoodies will suffice.
She is so cold, and she isn't sure what to do about it. As anyone with eyes who goes places in the Valley of the Sun surely could testify, she is one of many for whom the holidays could just as easily involve losing a toe to frostbite and spraining both ankles as it would a champagne toast and forcing loved ones to listen to Hanson's Christmas album.
She's not alone. Thing is, she's also incredibly on trend.
Caught in the fantasy that Phoenix does not get cold and that sunshine equals not-winter, Valley dwellers dupe themselves into thinking that something fleece-lined and sandals are sufficient coverage for temperatures that average out at 56 degrees. While it would be easy to blame these fashion victims, ultimately they are not at a fault.
Instead, a few culprits have contributed to this widespread dysfunction — not least of which are Gidget, whom we can all blame for the popularization of beach culture and general rejection of reality, Gisele Bundchen, who is gorgeous and has made millions hawking her Ipanema flip-flops, and, if we're being hyper-technical, it would be lazy to leave out ancient Egyptians, the earliest adopters of the thong. However, it's the recent boom of athleisure that has done nothing but encourage this ill-prepared manner of dressing.
Catching on with the assistance of Kanye West, undeniable comfort, and the fact that people like to look as though they have considered going to the gym today, athleisure blends athletic wear and loungewear in such a manner that Alexander Wang built an H&M collection around the concept, slides have made a total comeback, and Anna Wintour herself has signed off on flat footwear and drawstring pants as high-fashion items.
This slacker chic world where supermodels excitedly sport Birkenstocks, track pants may be worn simply as pants, and a sweatshirt can rival a beautifully made coat in price is a world where Arizona has managed to secure a spot (however accidentally) at the popular table.
While not caring has always been the ultimate cool, Phoenix was somehow — and surprisingly — way ahead of the curve on this one. If giving not the slightest thought to what you're wearing is the key to trend-making, we certainly could've done worse.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.