Top 10+1 dancewear brands in 2021

Having tried and tested 50+ dancewear brands, I came up with a list of personal favorites which excel in 3 factors, including style, quality and comfort for your reference. I personally own or owned a least one product from these brands, it is possible that product quality may varies across styles even with the same brand. Bear in mind, this is a very subjective list and I am not commissioned to write for or did I received gifts from any of the brands listed below.

1. Yumiko (Japan)

Started by the professional ballerina Yumiko Takeshima in 2002, this brand is loved by professionals and dancers around the world. The functionality, durability, comfort and fit of their leotards are top-notch. With a wide variety of styles, colours and fabrics to choose from, there are endless possibilities with customizing your own unique leotards. Even though Yumiko has a higher price tag, it is an investment piece which will last you for the decade to come. The only downside, however, is the long production period of 2-3 months, or you can choose from their ready-to-wear collection. Move fast for their ready-to-wear leotards as they are usually sold out within a few days depending on the styles and sizes. The style 'Alicia' is one of the best-selling styles and is my personal favourite style as well.

James Hay and Romany Pajdak in rehearsal for Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale, The Royal Ballet Season 2013/14, Romany wearing a Yumiko Alicia leotard
Romany Pajdak in Alicia leotard with half sleeves from Yumiko.

2. Just a corpse (Slovenia)

Created by 2 Paris-based fashion designers, every piece of dancewear from Just a corpse is an artwork that deserves your love. If there is a dancewear fashion week, I'm sure Just a corpse will appear on the runway. "For exercise at the barre or relaxing in a bar", Just a corpse is not just a dancewear brand, but indeed, a fashion brand which can take you from the studio to the street. Without a doubt, this brand is the most expensive dancewear brand at the moment. Yet, with their extraordinary, fashion-forward designs, exceptional quality, comfort and versatility, I'd describe Just a corpse as the Hermès of dancewear, which is to be splurged on as a treat to yourself.

Just a corpse GRÈS leotards
Models in GRÈS leotards, cache coeur draped leotard in blush, nude and blue (left to right) from Just a corpse.

3. LEVDANCE (South Korea)

LEVDANCE is an emerging brand that is worth your attention. Given their wide range of products, including leotards, skirts, tutus, tights, warm-ups, you will definitely be impressed by the quality across various products. Leotards are produced with Italian Radilon® fabric, which is remarkably soft to touch. Whether it is a classic camisole leotard or a more fancy floral leotard, LEVDANCE is a synonym for elegance and sophistication.

LEVDANCE josephine halter neck leotard TOILE DE JOUY / BLUE
Model in Josephine halter neck leotard TOILE DE JOUY / BLUE from LEVDANCE.

4. Chacott / Freed of London (Japan)

With more than 60 years of history, you may have probably heard of Chacott even if you are not into ballet due to their famous cosmetic line. From dancewear to sportswear, accessories to cosmetics, Chacott is the brand that you can trust without hesitation. Despite the fact that their dancewear designs are more classic, it is the quality and comfort that you are after. The sauna series, particularly their sauna pants, shorts, rompers and jumpsuits are the best on the market if you want to warm up your body in no time without the bulkiness and sounds from the traditional trash bag pants. Be sure to check out their sweet and cute accessories, gorgeous dance bags and functional dance equipment.

 Marianela Nuñez in Freed/ Chacott leotard with long sleeves in black
Marianela Nuñez in Nela Long Sleeve Leotard in black from Freed of London.

5. Releve (South Korea)

Started in 2017, Releve is a relatively new brand specializes in making ballet skirts in small production. The chiffon is the highest quality I can find on the market, which is extremely lightweight, soft and smooth, especially their skirt in the 'Classic' and 'Romantic' collection. While their 'Adorable' collection are made with fine-grained textured chiffon. Edges are seamed meticulously which show their craftmanship and attention to details. After my first try with Releve skirts, I'm sold, Releve is THE ONE.

Releve chiffon ballet skirts collection
Releve chiffon ballet skirts in Spring breeze ivory, Classic pale mocha and Adagio (left to right).

6. Sissone wear (South Korea)

Sissone wear embodies femininity and sophistication with an extensive use of florals and velvets in their design of leotards. Their attention to details are presented in their fabric in supreme quality and beautiful packaging. If you are looking for rehearsal skirts, definitely check out Sissone as well, which are available in a wide range of lovely colours.

 Model in Eliana Purity leotard (Nude Beige) from Sissone wear.


7. SMK (South Korea)

SMK presents innovative development in the dancewear industry since 2014. Their range of eco-friendly dancewear are produced with fabrics including Tencel™, Modal®, creora®, ECONYL®, organic cotton and recycled polyester. Not only they are sustainable but they also provide ultimate comfort you look for in dancewear. The designs of SMK are mostly clean and minimalist with solid colours. If you are concerned about environmental impact of the dancewear production industry, SMK is the brand to look into.

SMK dancewear reversible leotard in lilac and
Models in reversible leotard in lilac/ grey from SMK dancewear.

8. Ainsliewear (Canada)

Ainsliewear is started by a professional ballerina Ainslie Cyopik in 1997. Simple and classy, the designs of dancewear by Ainsliewear is encompassing which flatters all body types. What is so special about Ainsliewear is their exclusive 4-way stretch fabric, which provides a buttery soft feeling and amazing durability to their leotards, they hugs your body and stretches with your movements. Their leotards have everything I look for in terms of quality and comfort.

Model in Manon leotard in blush/ black.


9. Zidans (Russia)

Established in 2015, Zidans is a relatively new dancewear brand which brought energy into the industry. The most special feature of Zidans, in my opinion, is its versatility as dancewear and swimwear. Their designs are clean, but fun and edgy by playing around with geometry and contrasting colours. Zidans stands out from other young brands with their interesting design and exceptional quality, it is worth a try.

Darya Yurchenko (left) in Zip leotard violet and Polina Zayarnaya (right) in Strap leotard violet.

10. Grishko / Nikolay (Russia)

You will definitely find dancewear from Grishko in your local dance stores, and you may have probably tried their pointe shoes before. As a dancewear brand with a long history of 30 years, Grishko (also known as Nikolay in the USA) definitely have something to offer. Whether you are looking for classic leotards in solid colours (Grishko Academy or Classic Excellence collection), or more unique leotards with patterns or mesh (Black Label or Bolshoi Stars collection), all of them are made with a type of Italian fabric exclusive to the brand, which is extremely supple. Grishko does not compromise on quality with a more affordable price range, therefore, it is definitely a good choice among the major dancewear brands.

Grishko / Nikolay black label leotard

Model in Della tank leotard from Grishko/ Nikolay.

11. Wear Moi (France)

I've decided to add a +1 to this top 10 list just because I can't really decide between Grishko and Wear Moi, which are both beautiful brands that should be mentioned. I still remember that the first and only leotard I purchased as an adult ballet beginner is from Wear Moi which lasts almost 3 years before it loosen up. As a well-established brand in France since 1992, Wear Moi produces most of the leotards in Tunisia. If you are a beginner or a student and do not wish to splurge on dancewear, but you still want something stylish, go for Wear Moi.

Wear Moi FELICITE leotard

 Model in Felicite leotard from Wear Moi.


Final words

New brands and styles come out every once in a while, it is almost impossible to try every dancewear that is available. If you are doing research online about which dancewear brands to choose, you are in the right place. I'm a very picky customer in terms of buying dancewear, if there is a tiny detail that I'm not satisfied or makes me uncomfortable, I would rather resell it or pass it to friends. I believe that it is the details that matter that make a brand excel in style, quality and comfort, and the brands above are the leaders in the industry in my point of view.

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