Since I started building APEX polewear, there is one question people have asked me more than others: "what's different about pole dance clothing?". Many people who don't pole dance immediately see visions of latex and bodyglitter (so much so that I later changed my explanation for non-polers to "activewear for pole dancing"). I can understand that it's hard to see why clothing for pole dancing has to be different from activewear already available for other sports. So, here follows the explanation of what it is that makes polewear different!
It has to allow grip in the right places
Pole dancing is largely about gripping the pole with exposed skin. Any place where fabric covers the skin, gripping the pole is impossible. Beginning pole dancers can still wear shirts and shorts, since they usually only use their hands and lower legs for tricks. However, as you get more advanced, tricks require more contact points in different places. This includes the elbows, shoulders, armpits, sides, stomach, thighs, and even bum grip for some tricks! If you want to perform these tricks, the skin that serves as your point of contact will have to be exposed. While some standard sports bras will work well, many have straps and fabrics in all the wrong places. And virtually all sport shorts are too long or too loose to properly grip the pole with. Clothes designed especially for pole dancing pay attention to grip points, and make sure the clothes don't interfere.
It has to stay in place in extreme situations
Since pole dancing involves hanging upside down, dynamic movements, and generally sliding your body around a pole, you want to be sure that your clothing stays where it needs to be. A lot of sports clothes are too loose in these situations, and can move out of place. Wardrobe malfunctions are no fun, so as a pole dancer you want to make sure your clothing is tested in the situation you want to use it for. For APEX polewear, this means hours of workouts, pole dancing and hanging upside down to test if the clothes stay in place and don't slide around. Some items don't make the cut, because they're just not suitable for the extreme nature of pole dancing.
It has to be very durable
Pole dance clothing gets a lot of wear. When you love an item, you want to wear it as much as possible. For pole dancing, this means that your clothes have to stand a lot of friction from contact with a metal pole. If your clothes aren't specifically made to withstand this friction, they will wear out really fast. This is why polewear should always be made in a durable way that will stand the test of time. It should be tested rigorously, to see how it holds up after many hours on the pole. On a small sidenote, I'm also not a fan of clothes that can only be handwashed. For me (and my brand, APEX polewear), durability also means the clothes should withstand machine washing.
So, there you have it! While mass-produced activewear can sometimes be an affordable alternative to polewear, in a lot of cases it just doesn't hold up. In my opinion, in the long run it pays to invest in some good quality clothes made specifically for pole dancing.