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Athleisure: Best Brands and Dupes for a College Budget

As the spring season approaches, people are beginning to transition their wardrobes from drab winter shades and bulky clothing to brightly colored pieces and lighter-wear. Specifically for college students, this means athleisure. Athleisure is a trend that, especially on college campuses, will be around for a long time. While this trend provides comfort and function as well as an easy to throw on outfit, it can be really expensive, taking a big toll on a college student's budget. I explored various companies and online sites and have compiled a list of some more mainstream expensive brands as well as places that are a little more budget friendly.



Lululemon seems to be one of the most represented brands on college campuses, including Lafayette. While this brand provides high quality and great looking clothes for a variety of different workout styles, it can be very pricey. However, if you are a dedicated buyer, I would highly recommend investing in the Train Times Pant and the Swifty Tech collection that comes in tank tops, short sleeve, and long sleeve shirts.



Athleta is another brand that is very expensive yet popular among college students. It is priced about the same as Lululemon, but Athleta sales tend to be much bigger, so if you are shopping on a budget but still want a more expensive brand, this is the place to go. My recommendations include the Elation Tight (more for everyday wear), Salutation Tight and Speedlight Tank (very similar to Lululemon’s Swifty Tech Tank).


ALO YOGA ($$$)

This brand is not very well known, but is very well regarded by everyone who uses it, including several fitness gurus and yoga instructors. This brand is more yoga-focused as the name suggests, but it perfect for everyday wear. The brand also just launched their new Flamingo Pink collection, so I would highly suggest checking it out and giving it a gander.


Some other expensive brands worth mentioning are Free People’s Movement Campaign and Outdoor Voices. Now, we are on to several brands who have managed to get across great quality and style while also being more affordable.



Over the past few years, Gym Shark has expanded their brand all over social media and has really made a name for itself, especially for their matching workout sets. Gym Shark is not the cheapest, but leggings are typically around $50, about half the price of the more expensive leggings. This brand carries so many flattering pieces in such vibrant and beautiful colors such as their Seamless Leggings with matching Seamless Tops. There are too many amazing things to recommend so I would really take a look when you have the chance!


ZELLA ($$)

Zella activewear is a Nordstrom only available brand that has been compared to Lululemon on numerous occasions. It has been known to be a great quality brand that are comfortable, non-see through, and about $30-$40 cheaper than the more expensive brands. I first heard about this brand from my friend after obsessing over her leggings. Some pieces I recommend are these Live in High Waisted Crop (constantly compared to Lululemon Wunder Under) and the matching Live in Racerback Bra.



This fun and very ‘aesthetically pleasing’ brand sells great yoga gear and everyday athleisure in wonderfully neutral shades and great prices. Leggings range from $30-$40 dollars which is great in comparison to more expensive brands! However, this brand focuses more on leggings than tops or sports bras. Some essentials for your closet are definitely the Nude Tech Hi Rise Capri and Lux No-Show Ankle Legging.



I am amazed by how many cute, affordable athletic brands are out there, including this one. As I browsed, I found so many cute pieces such as the Ellie Tights (similar to Athleta’s Contender Tights) or this Sherpa Jacket that is perfect for early spring when there is still a bit of chill in the air. Other great items include the Let Loose Tank and the Ava Tank.


Other great affordable athletic wear shops include 90 Degree by Reflex and the CRZ Yoga, whose clothes bear a remarkable resemblance to Lululemon’s collections in both style and quality.


As the new season approaches, I hope everyone the best in expanding their wardrobes and that this list will guide the way on looking great and being as confident as possible… and saving some money while doing so!


Student at Lafayette College interesting in a variety of things including mental health, psychology, fashion, and beauty.
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