Trends come and go. Over their lifespan, they're slowly ushered in as something obscure and interesting. They gain steam, and, sooner or later, get accepted into mass culture, become passé, and are replaced by the next cool thing. That very process is happening to the jogger pant.
A few years back, thanks to sneaker culture's disdain for oversized pants that cover up footwear, the need for cuffed pants was eminent. Europeans had long been wearing slim track pants or pinrolling their jeans, but no one was taking a chino-like or denim pant and putting elastic cuffs on the bottom. So the jogger was born and first gained its recognition with sneaker connoisseurs who preferred running sneakers and wanted a sportswear look that they weren't getting from their jeans. Skinny jeans only did so much and weren't as comfortable as the jogger. Sneaker-specific brands started to make joggers, they were sold at sneaker boutiques, and then they spread like wildfire across Instagram and Twitter.
The jogger was never meant to be exclusionary, but at its inception, it showed that you had a certain taste level and enjoyed particular things.
YouTube personalities were able to cash in on this trend and get thousands of views on telling people where to buy joggers. The pants became so synonymous with sneaker culture that I did an article exploring their roots and proliferation in sneaker culture. The point joggers went mainstream was when J.Crew embraced the silhouette.
When J.Crew entered the jogger pant market—naming their version the "Sideline Pant"—and sold it alongside its limited-edition New Balance 998s, it marked a larger adoption of formerly niche sneaker culture as a whole. But the menswear retailer wasn't only one who started to cash in on the jogger— they started to pop up at unlikely places. American Eagle sells joggers (and takes out subway ads featuring them as the hottest trend). Gap sells joggers. Abercrombie & Fitch sells joggers, and the brand even styles them with New Balance 1300s. Even Wal-Mart and Target sell joggers. The New York Times wrote a trend piece on children who refuse to wear jeans in favor of sweatpants. The style world has undergone a cozification, and that's where people started looking for other options to the jogger.
Brands such as Publish and Kith — who are noted as responsible for birthing the jogger and its popularity — started to work on slim sweats, track pants, or transitioning more fleece options into seasonal assortments. As sneakerheads then began to explore the roots of the jogger, they started to turn their eyes towards track pants and slim sweatpants. The adidas Tiro pant, the brand’s soccer training pant, is $40 and slim sweats can be found anywhere and at any price point.
Pinrolling has really caught on, too. Retro running sneakers have built a subculture around them and cuffed-up jeans have become a quintessential element of wearing the latest pair of ASICS, Sauconys, or Nike Air Max 1s. The trend, at its current transition, has bigger reach overseas. But people in the States have paid attention to their Euro and Australian counterparts that do this practice to their jeans, and it’s slowly catching on in America. The biggest benefit of the pinroll is that the pants can be un-pinrolled. Which means you're not stuck with an elasticated pair of chinos forever.
Guys want something that’s going to last and not be an out-of-style purchase within the next few years. It’s more practical to buy a black pair of Nike Tech Fleece sweatpants and have them function as something that can be worn casually or dressed up. They provide the same look that joggers do, but they’re clearly sweatpants. After the Tech Fleece craze has subsided, they can still be worn to the gym or around the apartment on a lazy Sunday.
According to Google Trends, jogger pants started to be increasingly searched in 2013 and reached a peak around the end of 2014. Since that point, they’ve started to tail off a considerable amount. This comes around the time that Think With Google is seeing jogger pants as a significant trend, stating: “Jogger pants see mass appeal.”
To back up its data, the piece goes on to show that when people search for jogger pants, they’re also looking for emojis, sequins, leather, and galaxy. Jogger pants, as we know them, have not only changed, but they’ve started to relinquish their stranglehold on the ankles of sneakerheads.
It’s a telltale sign of a trend’s move from a subculture indicator to a part of broader society when it becomes available at the very outlets it wasn’t intended to proliferate. The jogger was never meant to be exclusionary, but at its inception, it showed that you had a certain taste level and enjoyed particular things. But when your uncle can pick up a pair of the similar pants at the local big box retailer, it’s certainly signaled a change. On to the next.