Despite the fact that the fashion industry has been struggling through this pandemic, activewear and athleisure brands have been flourishing more than ever. Since most of us have been WFH, sweatpants and other athleisure have become staples of our professional wardrobes (at least waist down). According to one source, at the inception of the pandemic, the U.S. sports apparel market was valued at approximately $105.1 billion and is expected to reach $248.1 billion by 2026.
One fashion item that has gained popularity during the pandemic is the “jogger.” I am writing this essay to save you money and emotional toil by exposing “joggers” for what they are – a Catfish. They pretend to be everything that makes you whole in life and fill your every need by making you think you are da badass bomb. But, the truth is, “joggers” are frauds—they are sweats hiding behind a fresh shave and some filters. In reality, by wearing them, you are not telling the world that you are fashion forward. What you are really telling the world is that you have abdicated and settled for the excitement offered by moving back in with your parents and living in your childhood room as an adult.
In the dating world, a catfish is someone who uses a fake profile on social media to trick people into forming relationships. In its benign form, catfishers use their fake profiles to give off a persona they wish they had – plenty of friends, the center of attention, always doing something “extra” – all in an effort to overcome some self-esteem issue and persuade someone that the catfisher is worthy of dating. On the other end of the spectrum, in its most egregious form, catfishers mess not only with the emotions of the vulnerable and gullible, but also wreak havoc with their finances too. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost $143 million to romance scams in 2018, with the average victim getting scammed out of about $2,600. It turns out that the Philippines is responsible for the highest number of dating scam cases, with Nigeria coming in second.
The romance scammers prey on the emotional triggers of hopeless romantics by getting their victims to believe that they are a genuine potential life partner. The romance scammers tell their targets how smart, handsome/beautiful, and important they are by sending repeated text messages. They use all the right words to sink a hole in one in their victim’s emotional void. The scammers claim that their goal is to find love and to build a “real connection,” often telling their targets that finding each other was "destiny." The elite romance scammers work in a multi-tiered structure using a playbook and earning a percentage of profits by luring vulnerable people in – not unlike LuLaRoe, but instead of selling poor quality leggings with bananas inappropriately placed in the crotch, the catfishers sell romantic fulfillment. Ultimately, the personas that the catfishers sell do not exist, leaving their hopeless romantics with even bigger and more expensive holes deep in their souls.
How are “joggers” the equivalent of a catfisher? Simple: “joggers” are just sweats with a “rose colored” profile page.
Sweatpants are a casual variety of soft pants originally intended for comfort or athletic purposes. In the 1920’s, the first pair of sweatpants made its appearance. They were gray jersey pants that allowed athletes to stretch and run comfortably. Sweatpants became regular at the Olympics by the late 1930’s and were worn by many athletes in the decades that followed. The rise of workout culture, as well as the birth of hip-hop in 1980’s, led to the popularity of sweatpants. Sweatpants also had a following with college students. In the 70’s and 80’s, designers began reimagining the sweatpants into everyday wear for students.
Despite their rise in popularity, in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, mainstream media exposed sweatpants for what they really are. Karl Lagerfeld, the late Chanel designer and fashion icon, commented, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.” Jerry Seinfeld explained the failure of sweats best in his famous colloquy with George Costanza:
Jerry: Again with the sweatpants?
George: What? I'm comfortable.
Jerry: You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world: "I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable."
It is undeniable, sweats mean that you relinquished the idea of ever being successful and relegated yourself to being a bench warmer for the Washington Generals. Wearing sweats is like being cast on “the Biggest Loser,” minus the weight loss.
Much like the current “jogger,” in the last 20 years, sweats have attempted to reinvent themselves to change their image. In 2003, Juicy Couture, made lots of money by retooling sweatpants into velour tracksuits. They prominently displayed huge Juicy Couture labels across the ass, while also showcasing the wearer’s tramp stamp and thong. These sweats “2.0” ultimately proved to be just as (if not more) rachet than the original. Others have attempted to pass off sweats as something more than a lost cause by pairing them with expensive shoes – like Uggs – which ultimately had the opposite effect. It turned Uggs into footwear of defeat, imparting impressions of slovenliness to the wearer.
What are the differences between joggers and sweats? The differences are without distinction.
“Joggers” are just Steve Buscemi pretending to wear Tom Brady’s pants. “Joggers” are taking advantage of those vulnerable members of society of who have barely made it out of the house for anything more than going to the grocery store or Home Depot. Yet, they long for the opportunity to “see and be seen” enjoying a Sunday funday donning those Louboutins that have been sitting in the closet for 2 years. “Joggers” whisper to us, “you are fashionable;” “you are chic,” “it does not matter that these pants are pricey, because you look hot.” These are all lies preying on Covid insecurities. “Joggers” are using the catfish playbook to make you feel like you matter – when, in actuality, you are telling the world the opposite. Before you log into Amazon and plunk down your money for some “joggers,” I am telling you, don’t fall for this scam. “Joggers” are sweats, and a lighter fabric and variable length cannot rescue them from their Jared Fogel vibe. Save yourself the public humiliation of being ridiculed by Stacy and Clinton in front of the 360 mirror, while you stammer at finding a non-existent explanation of why wearing sweats is okay. Don’t make your friends and family tearfully read you letters that start, “Your ‘jogger’ addiction has affected me in the following ways . . .”
Comfort is overrated. Qualifying your wardrobe in the gambit of comfort, takes away your will to strive for any measure of accomplishment. Save yourself from the intervention; say no to “joggers,” and embrace the benefits discomfort can bring to your life.