From Chanel's couture sneakers in 2014 to track pants on Chloe's Paris runway earlier this month, sports attire is permeating high fashion in a major way. And so-called athleisure, as offered by Lululemon, Rebecca Minkoff and countless others, is one of the fastest-growing categories in clothing sales.
Tory Burch has introduced her own take on the look: Tory Sport, the first standalone apparel collection created by the designer since she launched her namesake brand in 2004.
Tory Sport offers a mix of performance and "coming and going" wear to take you from the court to the club, with offerings that include moisture-wicking leggings and jog bras in her signature peppy prints; ribbed-knit polo sweaters; drapey, wide-legged track pants and pearl-encrusted, slip-on sneakers.
The collection, which has its own logo, design team and digital e-commerce site, has a retro tomboyish spirit that nods to the style of Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg and the iconic sporty chic costumes in the Wes Anderson film "The Royal Tenenbaums."
"The way we looked at luxury and brought it down a bit for Tory Burch, we're bringing sport up a bit and making it more premiere for Tory Sport," the designer said in September at the New York Fashion Week opening of the first Tory Sport boutique, a pop-up on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan's NoLita neighborhood. "I wanted the clothes to be functional and super-technical, but not in the design details," explained Burch, dressed in a navy-and-burgundy, rugby-striped, "tech knit" skirt and sweater from the Tory Sport line, and chunky, rubber-soled heels by Loewe.
The line also includes everyday wardrobe items such as mock turtleneck sweaters, stretch cotton poplin button-down shirts with ribbed cuffs, front-pouch-pocket nylon anoraks and pique polo dresses, as well as gear for specific sports, such as color-block rash guards for surfing, tennis dresses and racquet bags. Prices range from $55 to $550.
"Athleisure is such a big deal right now, but I don't like that word," says Burch, whose game is tennis. "We call the category 'coming and going,' and it's really a shift in the way women are dressing. It's about what you want to wear after gym class, to the airport and even to dinner."
Launching Tory Sport in the boutique on Elizabeth Street was sentimental for the designer since it's in the same spot where she launched Tory Burch with a tunic and a dream in 2004.
"This was a whole new startup," she says. "I never wanted this to be a second brand because I feel like second brands aren't working as well."
The pop-up boutique — which is to followed by a standalone Tory Sport Boutique in the Flatiron District next spring — has a retro country-clubby feel, with a white stucco façade, blue striped awnings, canvas armchairs and sports-mod artwork by fashion illustrator artist Kelly Marie Beeman. There's a vending machine that dispenses Tory Burch-branded tennis balls, a Tory Burch surfboard on the wall, and a letterpress so shoppers can customize ringer tees with their initials.
Currently, Tory Sport is available only at the New York Store (at 257 Elizabeth St.,  334-3000) and at TorySport.com. But that could change.
"It's fun to have a totally new look," Burch says. "I really want to bring it to L.A. That's the next place."