NEW YORK • Yoga pants are now being presented at offices in the United States – another sign of how users are further expanding the value of clothing.
But in 1998, the first pair of yoga pants that Lululemon sold was a simple item for women to wear in the studio.
They were a blend of nylon and Lycra elastic fibers, which provided the stretch and smoothness to manage all sweat-inducing contortions on the rug.
Yoga, first as an exercise and then as a cultural phenomenon, still needed to be firm.
At the turn of the century, pants filled a niche for enthusiasts looking for a more sophisticated alternative to plain cotton leggings.
Two decades later, they conquered the closet, even for people who never visit a yoga studio.
By 2014, teenagers began to prefer leggings to jeans. Then people started wearing sports clothes (or athleisure, but most of the times they are just yoga pants) to do errands.
Now, the yoga pants are in the office.
Popularity has led to a flurry of competitors ranging from $ 20 ($ 27.50) Old Navy pants to the $ 230 Lucas Hugh versions.
Lululemon Athletica, widely credited with bringing elastic pants to the masses, invested money in developing new fabrics to ward off rivals that now include the world's largest athletic companies.
Many of its new fabrics are marked and targeted for specific uses.
Luxtreme is a four-way elastic fabric that absorbs moisture and is intended to fit as a second skin. Silverescent is sold as "stinking conquest technology".
Competitive leggings use a similar strategy, promoting versatile pants through branded fabric combinations.
For Adidas, the pants sport fabrics like Climalite material that drains the sweat or Climacool and Climawarm of thermal regulation to accommodate the training conditions.
Likewise, Nike's Dri-Fit material keeps sweat away and coaches dry.
What was once a simple elongated legging, it seems, has become a marvel of engineering.
Not surprisingly, however, when you realize that about $ 48 billion is being spent on assets in the United States every year.
Now that it has a spectrum of products, Lululemon has opened two stores for customers interested in even experimental items.
One of them in downtown Manhattan (the other is in Vancouver) looks more like a fashion boutique than a place to buy equipment for the gym or yoga studio.
The largest companies now in the sportswear business have invested heavily in the growth of their women's fashion lines, especially in developing new fabrics and features for yoga pants that have been simple.
In 2014, Nike began working toward a $ 7 billion sales target for the women's business, with revenue of nearly $ 5 billion.
A year later, she reported that overall growth in women's business was outpacing that of men.
That same year, Adidas began directing its young brand, Neo, for younger women.
The German sports giant even brought former Lululemon CEO Christine Day as a strategic consultant.
Adidas quickly became a formidable threat to Lululemon's dominance.
The first steps have become exclusive designs for women through the PureBoost X line, leading to even greater emphasis on active tops and bottoms, using technology called Climachill and Techfit, both geared towards training women.
Last year, Adidas women's sales grew 28%, making it one of the strongest segments of the company.
Active funds and leggings are now a $ 1 billion industry, according to Marshal Cohen, an analyst at the NPD Group.
Currently, there are more than 11,000 types of yoga-specific pants available from retailers worldwide, according to data from the retail research company Edited for both women's and men's clothing.
"Now that this product easy to install, easy to find, easy to use and easy to care emerged as a fashion product at the same time, you have the perfect storm." Mr. Cohen said.
"You have to be doing something very wrong to not succeed in this type of product."