By  on May 12, 2005

NEW YORK — Skirts are getting a leg up in activewear.

While they have long been a staple in tennis and golfwear, skirts are now being designed and worn for high-energy sports such as running, biking and fitness dance classes.

These newer products are differentiated from traditional "skorts," because they are made of performance fabrics and generally have a compression shorts layer in Lycra spandex underneath a looser skirt fabric. Some biking and triathlon skirt styles come with padded shorts, while others are sold separately as wraparound items so that triathletes and others can put them on when they are done swimming or as an added layer.

Among firms that make performance skirts are New Balance, Nike and Under Armour, as well as Tyr, Marika and Moving Comfort, and biking companies Sugoi and Terry Precision Cycling.

Skirt Sports is a new company that designs and sells functional performance skirts under the Triks label, which is skirt spelled backward.

"My idea was to create functional and performance-driven products that are sexy, sporty and fun," said Nicole DeBoom, a professional triathlete and Skirt Sport's founder, who said the Triks line began selling in stores this spring. "We all want to look good while we work out."

While some athletes might balk at the idea of wearing a skirt for cardio-heavy workouts, these products are gaining in acceptance among active women who want to wear something that can transition to places beyond the gym.

"Women like them because they can wear them out to errands after their run," said Kristen Marino, owner of Slope Sports in Brooklyn, which sold out of the styles it carried this spring from Moving Comfort. "We were surprised at how popular this style has been and we plan to carry more skirt styles going forward."

Another major draw — skirts help conceal certain body areas and this appeals to women starting to get into shape, as well as older athletes and others who don't want to be so bare.

"Walking around in skintight lycra is a hard thing for many women," said Paula Dyrba, vice president of marketing at Terry Precision Cycling.

Many of the skirt styles have matching prints or coordinating colors in the shorts layer and the skirt, giving them a more feminine and fashion-forward edge.

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