Sportswear has slowly but surely infiltrated the fashion mainstream. Going back to as early as the 1920s, tennis attire – and its association with the types of people who played tennis back then – popularised the preppy look of brands such as Fred Perry. These days, comfort is king, so sportswear or athleisure has firmly cemented its place in people’s wardrobes.
The technical fabrics and nature of sportswear mean that the characteristics that make it good for sport also make it comfortable for general wear. Another reason could be that fitness is now more ingrained into our lifestyles. We go about our day with plans to get some form of activity in, so we might as well go out in the attire for it, in which case it better be fashionable. In supplying this demand, many retailers now provide athleisure offerings that would fit right in an office. Finally, the rise of sportswear could also be attributed to what wearing sportswear signals to the world. Subliminally or not, sportswear signals to the world that you’re a healthy person and that you have the time and resources to keep healthy. The veblen-isation of athletic wear could explain the rise of brands like Lululemon, whose clothes are as likely to be seen in a trendy cafe as they are in the gym.
Ironically, sportswear has now become the choice of attire for lounging. Even though the examples below would rarely be used while breaking a sweat today, they have nonetheless bridged the gap between sportswear and fashion:
Nike Air Jordan 1
Many historians and collectors attribute the start of sneaker culture to the Nike Air Jordan 1. Worn on the court by Michael Jordan himself, the shoe became a cultural phenomenon when viewers all around the world saw him dribbling, dunking, and dominating in this shoe. Even if you couldn’t play like Mike, at least you could dress like Mike. Since then, on-court footwear has evolved. MJ even tried to wear the 1985 model in a 1998 game but went through podiatry hell and back to finish the game in them. But off the court, the Nike Air Jordan 1 remains an iconic silhouette with a cult-like following.
Adidas Stan Smith
Originally marketed as the “Adidas Robert Haillet”, the Stan Smiths are another fashion icon that began life on the court. Originally a tennis shoe, popularised by the legendary Stan Smith, their minimalist design and comfort is a big reason why it has become so popular for casual wear. Its longevity is a testament to its design and it can be the cornerstone of a great wardrobe.
Oakley started producing eyewear for BMX, motorcross, and other sports before it became the fashionable brand that it is today. While their glasses still keep their functional nature, Oakley has branched out into more fashionable styles by collaborating with brands both high and low in the fashion world. Granted, they are for the more daring dressers but that hasn’t seemed to stop their large base of die-hard fans.
Rene Himpe is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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