From The Runway

Fashion’s Most Expensive Sweatpants from Resort 2013

The resort collections introduced a surprisingly comfortable new trend. Misty White Sidell surveys the priciest sweats on the runway.

The resort collections, which are presented over an exasperating three-month period in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, have shown their fair share of dazzle thus far. There have been loads of prints, matchy-matchy suits, short shorts and—oddly enough—a bit of fur for your tropical vacation.

But one trend has emerged that’s far more comfortable than the rest. Sweatpants! Made of silk, suede, and every luxurious material in between, labels including Givenchy and Chloe have included sweats—along with its sportier cousin, trackpants— in their collections for next season. The styles are sometimes so dressy that they resemble a trouser hybrid, but tend to assert their loungewear identity only with a drawstring waist or banded ankle.

It all feels like an expensive blast from the past. Sweats enjoyed a heyday from 2000-2004, thanks to Juicy Couture’s Gela Nash Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy, who marketed a low-slung velour pair in the early aughts that came in a in a variety of colors. Priced at around $100 –and coupled with a pair of UGGS and a hoodie, they became the favored casual look of stars like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. In retrospect, that entire outfit cost less than a single pair of this season’s sweats.

2009 marked the return of the harem pant, billowing pants that gathered around the calf (and made famous by MC Hammer in the early 1990s!) But perhaps no one has done more for luxuriating sweats than J.Crew, whose catalogues instructed women to pair sweatshirts with silk skirts and dresses for many years before they began fabricating lounge tops in cashmere and selling them for $250. The style became so popular that they now even stock it bright colors for the summer. “I think there's always got to be something that sort of turns it off—meaning, if everything's shiny, there has to be something that feels a little casual, or something has to be a little messy,” its Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, said of the high-low trend in an interview with the blog PopSugar, “Things can't always be perfect, not everything can be buttoned…there's got to be something that turns it on its head.”

So considering the sweatshirt’s recent popularity, it’s not surprising that a similar focus is now being paid to the body’s lower half. Now, sweatpants have simply grown up. The silhouette has streamlined, trading its low-riding waistband and derriere adornments for shapes and embellishments that are far more sophisticated. And even Juicy Couture’s co-founders are working to shed the pants of its dorm room connotations: the duo recently launched Skaist Taylor, their new high-end line that now retails high-waisted velour sweats for $435. (Looking at the collection, you wouldn’t find a hot pink, rhinestone pair of sweats in sight, as the designers now create pieces in black and grey with intricate stitching details for a more “luxe” feel)

Similar sweatpant updates can be found in resort collections from labels such as Preen, which introduced a lean-cut tracksuit (pants, $1140) that could contend with any of the season’s office-intended workwear. Designer Tess Giberson ($525) showed a pair of loose-fitting red silk pants, while Richard Chai paired swooshy athletic trousers ($255) with running sneakers and a fitted blazer.. When paired with heels and a tailored shirt or refined sweater, the new sweatpants act as an alternative trouser—a good thing, considering their similar cost.