For some people, all the motivation they need to hit the gym or finish that punishing set of reps is an investment in some stylish men’s workout clothes that will help them dress for the occasion. Not only will a grip of fancy new gear help you start (and stick) to those workout resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, it’ll also help you get some galactic-level fits off in the process—even if you’re sweaty as hell, huffing and puffing like you blew the house down.
Those scratchy old band tees and baggy basketball shorts won’t cut it when you’re facing off against your gym nemesis on the elliptical, and as much as we love Swooshes and Stripes around these parts, there’s a whole other world of sleek, performance-minded activewear brands out there for you to explore. Instead, here are 21 cutting-edge athletic labels we love—each a top-notch purveyor of stylish men’s workout clothes—that’ll keep you feeling motivated and ready to hit your next fitness PR.
The Ol’ Reliable Pick: Rhone
Longtime GQ Recommends readers know how we feel about Rhone. Its breathable, odor-fighting tees have held down the top spot on our list of best workout shirts for years now, and we’re such big fans of their thoughtfully-designed shorts that we made them the flagship product of one of our Boxes a few quarters ago.
Who says distance running can’t feel punk rock? Satisfy’s moth-eaten muscle shirts and leopard-print shorts reflect their Parisian founder Brice Partouche’s roots in skateboarding and hardcore.
The Traditionalist Pick: Tracksmith
Boston-based Tracksmith transplants Chariots of Fire-era aesthetics onto modern marathon-ready gear in a way that feels natural, stylish, and not the least bit kitschy.
After shaking up the performance eyewear game with its ultramodern Japanese frames, District Vision has turned its attention to apparel. The brand’s latest innovation is a stretchy, lightweight mesh called Air-Wear, with thousands of tiny pores that open and close as you move to regulate your body heat and sweat.
Given all the hype and celebrity loyalists, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Outdoor Voices deals in loud, splashy, logo-heavy kits. In truth, the brand is so beloved because it specializes in some of the subtlest, most technically sound workout gear around.
The Preposterously Soft Pick: Vuori
If handfeel is your number-one criteria, then Vuori is the move. Its buttery, sumptuous, stretchy sweats make all other pants feel like sandpaper by comparison.
Need to feel completely free in order to really hit your stride? Ten Thousand’s featherlight Session shorts and Distance tees are built to be as efficient as possible to stay out of your way in pursuit of your next PR.
The Sci-Fi Pick: Isaora
With its streamlined silhouettes and advanced tech-y fabrics, Isaora’s precision-engineered clothes sometimes look like they were pilfered off the set of a Denis Villeneuve-directed space opera—in the best way possible.
The Adventurist Pick: Veilance
The upscale, forward-thinking wing of Vancouver outdoor label Arc’teryx, Veilance focuses on bridging the gap between the streets and the trail: Its parkas and blazers are sharp enough for your everyday life, but they’re built with enough under the hood to survive scaling a mountain. The brand’s simpler stuff, though, is perfect for training at home while fantasizing about being out there.
Reigning Champ is Canadian through and through, focusing on high-quality materials (its French terry is exceptional) and high-functioning performance details. Everything is made and designed in Vancouver, yielding year-round staples that will take you from couch to crunch with comfort and ease.
The Community-Oriented Pick: Bandit Running
Bandit Running is only a couple of years old, but it’s already cultivated an ardent group of customers, who flock to the NYC-based brand in droves to snap up its sharp-enough-for-an-early-Zoom half-zips and cozy, subtly-branded sweats.
The Repentant Raver Pick: Soar Running
If your name is Tim Soar, you’re all but legally obligated to start selling gym clothes. So in 2015, that’s exactly what the London-based designer did, churning out slick, colorblocked running gear designed to help you sweat out the toxins after the club.
The Mercifully Austere Pick: Jacques
Most workout gear announces its presence from a mile away. NYC-based Jacques takes the opposite approach, leaning on a roster of crisp neutral tones to make activewear so pristine it’s almost a shame to dirty it in the squat rack. But dirty it you should—especially if you’ve got a closet stuffed with so many subdued designer grails it’d make Lydia Tár blush.
The Muscle Beach Pick: Y,IWO
Ever wondered what it would feel like slanging weight at Gold’s in its sweat-soaked heyday? Y,IWO harnesses the endearingly cheesy energy of Pumping Iron-era Schwarzenegger—think retro graphics, bicep-hugging cuts, and bright, saturated colors—to imbue your gym selfies with a healthy jolt of ’70s-era sleaze. It’s about time you tried a crop top anyway.
All it took for Miler Running to take home a Fitness Award was equipping its top-notch shorts with a couple of damn pockets; they’re that good. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the rest of the brand’s murdered-out wares—made in New York with fabrics sourced from the European capitals of the world—are equally stellar, too.
The Sustainably-Minded Pick: Janji
Yes, Janji’s peppy, tasteful workout gear looks great, but it’s the mission behind the garms that really distinguishes them from all the other synthetic gloop on the market. Everything the brand touches, from the materials it sources to the packaging that arrives at your door, puts the environment first, with a particular emphasis on supporting clean water initiatives around the world.
The I-Work-and-Play-Outside Pick: And Wander
If you’re wondering how a brand makes outdoor gear look this stylish, chalk it up to And Wander’s founders, Keita Ikeuchi and Mihoko Mori, outdoor enthusiasts who cut their teeth at Issey Miyake. Rugged materials meet sleek designs at And Wander, which makes clothing that’s as ready for chilling at the campsite as it is for scaling some seriously gnarly terrain.
Founded by a couple of cyclists who decided to start an apparel brand inspired by the natural scenery of their surroundings in the Côte d’Azur, Café Du Cycliste elevates your typical biking gear with out-there prints, flattering silhouettes, and lots of stretchy material.
The Wimbledon Enthusiast Pick: J.Lindberg
Golfing is a workout, right? Since 1996, Swedish-based brand J.Lindberg’s been elevating golf apparel so you can wear your pieces off the course and not look like you’re about to hit Trump Links. Since then, the brand has branched off into donning athletes in a variety of fields from tennis to skiing.
The Mountain Climbing Pick: Klättermusen
Hats off if your workout involves scaling the side of a mountain, and when you’re chasing higher altitudes, Klättermusen is the brand to have on your back. It puts performance above all else, but still regularly churns out attractive clothing that’s ready to get roughed up in the great outdoors.
The “Bike Is Life” Pick: Rapha
Chances are you’ve seen Rapha if you’ve ever come close to someone speeding away on a bicycle. It’s arguably the most popular cycling apparel brand for the people who have a sick rig mounted above their bed. The clothing can be be loud or subtle, but above all else, you’ll be seen on the road (for safety reasons).