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Activewear vs. Sportswear: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 31, 2023
Activewear is clothing designed for physical activity, offering comfort and functionality, while sportswear refers to specialized apparel for specific sports, often with performance-enhancing features.

Key Differences

Activewear is designed for general physical activities, emphasizing comfort and flexibility. Sportswear, on the other hand, is tailored for specific sports, focusing on enhancing performance and providing support for particular movements.
The design of activewear prioritizes functionality and movement ease, suitable for a range of activities like yoga or gym workouts. Sportswear includes specific features like padding or aerodynamics for sports such as football or cycling.
Activewear often incorporates materials that wick moisture and are breathable, making it suitable for various exercise forms. Sportswear, however, may use specialized materials and designs for sport-specific requirements, like thermal properties for skiing apparel.
While activewear has become a fashion trend and is often worn casually, sportswear is typically worn during the actual sport or physical activity it is designed for.
Activewear is versatile and adaptable, crossing over into everyday wear, whereas sportswear is more niche, catering to the particular needs of a specific sport.

Comparison Chart


General physical activities
Specific sports

Design Focus

Comfort and flexibility
Performance enhancement


Moisture-wicking, breathable
Sport-specific, e.g., padding, thermal


Exercise, casual wear
During specific sports


High, adaptable for everyday wear
Low, specialized for sports

Activewear and Sportswear Definitions


Activewear is clothing designed for exercise and general physical activity.
She wore her new activewear for a morning jog.


Sportswear is tailored to support and protect during specific sports activities.
His basketball sportswear had extra padding for protection.


Activewear refers to comfortable, flexible apparel suitable for a range of activities.
His activewear was perfect for both yoga and weightlifting.


Sportswear can include items like jerseys, shorts, and specialized footwear.
The tennis player's sportswear was both functional and stylish.


Activewear is often stylish, blending functionality with fashion.
She chose activewear that looked good both in and out of the gym.


Sportswear is specialized clothing designed for specific sports.
The football team wore their sportswear for the match.


Activewear is known for its versatility in various exercise settings.
His activewear was suitable for both indoor cycling classes and outdoor runs.


Sportswear often includes performance-enhancing features.
Her cycling sportswear was aerodynamically designed.


Activewear includes garments that are moisture-wicking and breathable.
Her activewear kept her dry during an intense workout.


Sportswear is often made from materials specific to the sport's requirements.
Her skiing sportswear was made of thermal fabric for warmth.


Clothes designed to be worn while playing a sport, exercising, or engaging in an outdoor activity.


Clothes designed for comfort and casual wear.


Casual clothing that is comfortable to wear when exercising or partaking in sport; sportswear


Clothes that are casually styled but acceptable for many business or social occasions.


Attire worn for sport or for casual wear


Clothes designed to be worn during exercise or while playing a sport.


Casual clothing that is comfortable to wear when exercising or partaking in sport; activewear.


Attire worn for sport or for casual wear


What materials are commonly used in activewear?

Activewear often uses breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.

Can activewear be worn casually?

Yes, activewear is often worn casually due to its comfort and style.

What is activewear primarily used for?

Activewear is used for a variety of physical activities and exercises.

Is sportswear versatile for casual use?

Sportswear is less versatile for casual wear as it's specialized for sports.

Has activewear become a fashion trend?

Yes, activewear is popular in fashion for its blend of style and functionality.

Can sportswear enhance athletic performance?

Yes, sportswear can enhance performance by supporting specific sports movements.

What defines sportswear?

Sportswear is apparel specifically designed for particular sports.

Are there special features in sportswear?

Yes, sportswear may have features like padding or aerodynamic designs for performance.

Is activewear suitable for all sports?

While versatile, activewear may not have specific features needed for certain sports.

Does activewear offer protection like sportswear?

Activewear offers basic protection but less than specialized sportswear.

Is sportswear only for athletes?

While designed for athletes, sportswear can be worn by anyone engaging in specific sports.

Is activewear the same as gym wear?

Activewear is similar to gym wear but can be used for a wider range of activities.

What materials are used in sportswear?

Sportswear uses materials tailored for the sport, like thermal fabrics for winter sports.

Do fashion brands produce activewear?

Yes, many fashion brands now have lines of activewear.

Is activewear affordable?

Activewear ranges in price, including affordable options.

Are there different types of sportswear for different sports?

Yes, sportswear varies widely depending on the sport.

Do professional athletes influence sportswear design?

Yes, professional athletes often influence the design and functionality of sportswear.

Can activewear be used for professional sports?

While suitable for training, activewear may lack specific features for professional sports.

Does sportswear include footwear?

Yes, sportswear can include specialized footwear for specific sports.

Can sportswear be worn for general fitness activities?

Sportswear can be used for general fitness, but it's specifically designed for certain sports.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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