“Tights are the new denim,” said President of Nike Brand Trevor Edwards. “We have seen that women interact more seamlessly across running, workout, fitness and lifestyle. We see all those things blend.”
It's no surprise given the growing demand for women's active wear. It makes up a significant part of Nike's revenue and they are planning to grow their US$5 billion women's business to US$7 billion by 2017.
General view of runners wearing tights during the 2016 London Marathon. Photo: Reuters
“We are seeing growth in the performance segments — running and training — and in terms of the style and look that comes from that,” Edwards said.
While Team Singapore athlete and SEA Games medalist Dipna Lim Prasad thinks sportswear looks good as daily wear, she wears tights mainly for the benefits they bring.
As a runner, chaffing is one of the problems that comes with wearing shorts, and wearing tights can help alleviate this particular annoyance for long distance runners.
Shorts that fit loosely can rub against your thighs and waist, causing irritation and abrasion. But due to the design and material of running tights, it hugs your body with minimal seams, keeping chaffing to a minimum.
“Depending on your size, the tights might actually make you feel more comfortable compared to shorts because of chaffing, especially if you are doing long distance runs,” the 24-year-old hurdler said.
Team Singapore athlete Dipna Lim Prasad wearing short tights while competing in the 28th SEA Games. Photo: Sport Singapore
“For marathoners, they actually put Vaseline on their bodies so that the singlet doesn't rub them too much, and their legs as well. And tights actually help minimize that a bit.”
“If you are super skinny and your thighs never touch, then it's okay. But for most people, myself included, that happens sometimes, and most people who take part in sports nowadays are running longer distances.”
For serious runners, wearing tights also helps in terms of performance and recovery, especially if the tights are made of compression fabrics.
According to the May 2006 edition of International Journal of Sports Medicine, wearing compression tights increases overall blood circulation and this helps remove fatigue-inducing waste material from muscles, thereby improving endurance and muscle recovery.
“It is more for long tights. If you wear short tights and they are compression, they will not be as effective,” the 2016 Olympic hopeful said.
“Naturally, you need compression for the whole leg so it helps pump your blood back when you are walking and stuff like that.”
Beyond the multitude of benefits they bring to running, however, wearing tights is also a matter of practicality and convenience for Dipna, particularly in hot and humid Singapore.
“It is easier especially in our environment. It is more comfortable if you have to run errands the whole day and you know you're going to perspire,” she said.
“It helps you get things done and you don't have to worry about anything.”