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Clearly, we are obsessed with fashion. But there's another all-consuming passion in our life, too: exercise (more specifically, running). You'd think there'd be a natural intersection between these two things, but there's not. We completely eschew Lululemon and anything out of the pages of that Athleta catalog that shows up in our mailbox in favor of the running shorts we get on sale at the Nordstrom Rack, jog bras from Target, and an old Motorhead t-shirt or something.
We just discovered that Forever 21 launched a new line of athletic gear, and so we thought maybe it was time to upgrade our running wardrobe. We never really imagined that the target Forever 21 shopper was an exercise buff, but maybe they're trying to court a new audience, similar to how the've added men's, plus sizes, and children's.
The breadth, if not the quality, suggests they're serious about earning some marketshare in this category. The line offers shirts, tanks, hoodies, sports bras, tanks with bras built in, shorts, shorter shorts, sweat socks, water bottles, gym duffles and yoga mats. Yup, yoga mats. For $10. (We didn't buy one, but we sniffed and fondled it extensively. It doesn't look much different from the one we bought at Target. And as far as the smell, it doesn't produce much of a plasticy odor. Which is good, and also a lot more than can be said for some of Forever 21's actual clothing, like this item from a few months ago.)
As we inspected the goods, trying to make our selection, we kept getting frustrated by the fact that the sportswear line doesn't seem to be built for real sports. Maybe yoga (sorry, yoginis, don't hate us for saying that yoga isn't quite as physically demanding on clothes as running), pilates, or doing some half-assed elliptical or some such at the gym. We know that if we're paying $10 for a top or a pair of shorts, we're not going to get high-tech moisture wicking miracle fabric, but we expect a little bit better than oddly placed, ragged seams that will chafe you bloody in some very sensitive places. The tops didn't seen much different than a t-shirt, in terms of fabric (i.e no sweat control). And seriously, those booty shorts—seriously? We kept eliminating options until we were finally left with the bra and the sweatsocks.
We wore both for a run this weekend.
The good news is that both items performed well. The bra was sturdily constructed (although it had weird little inserts in the cups that served no discernible purpose and could not be removed), comfortable, didn't have superfluous seams in painful places, and did as good a job as could be expected with sweat control. As far as motion control goes?we admit to being modestly busted, so it wasn't really an issue. However, we probably would not recommend it to Dolly Parton.
The sweatsocks were fine. They didn't rip and stayed in place for the duration of a ten-mile run. And at $6 for a pack of three, it's not a bad deal.
All in all, the line doesn't seem like it was created for aggressive use in the gym; rather, it seems like Forever 21 is trying to appeal to people who want a cheaper version of the Victoria's Secret Pink line, or even American Apparel. (That duffle bag is a pretty direct American Apparel ripoff, SHOCKER, right?) If you're looking for inexpensive loungewear, your gym routine includes more preening than actually working out, or your taking your first tentative steps toward a fitness program and don't want to invest a lot of resources, then this collection is definitely worth a look.
· Forever 21 [Official Site]
· All We Did it For Science content [Racked, previously]