The first pairs of yoga pants Lululemon Athletica Inc sold in 1998 were a simple item for women to wear at the studio. They were a mix of nylon and Lycra — synthetic elastic fibres that provided the stretch and softness needed to manage all those sweat-inducing contortions during a lengthy session on the mat.
Yoga, first as an exercise and later as a cultural phenomenon (or cliché, depending on your cynicism), had yet to take hold. At the turn of the century, the pants filled a niche for yogis who were simply looking for a higher-end alternative to plain cotton leggings.
Two decades later, they’ve conquered the closet, even for people who never see the inside of a yoga studio. In 2014, teenagers began to prefer leggings over jeans. Then people started wearing athletic clothing (or athleisure, but it’s mostly just yoga pants) to run errands. Now they’re wearing yoga pants to the office. US imports of women’s elastic knit pants last year surpassed those of jeans for the first time ever, according to the US Census Bureau.
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