Whether you prefer to keep your jogging bottoms for slouching around the house or you’re a big fan of high-end sports luxe, there’s no denying the impact of sportswear on the fashion industry. Stretchy fabrics, breathable jersey, comfy trainers, and yoga tops have all made their indelible mark on the fashion world and they are most certainly here to stay. With this in mind, we take a look at how sports fashion has evolved since it first became a style statement. 

Tennis clothing hits the shops 

Sports styles have evolved a great deal over the years, with the focus shifting to the sport itself rather than the current fashion trends. However, a century ago things were rather different. Tennis became a hugely popular sport in the mid-19th-century at which time fashionable clothes on the court were an absolute must. Men wore full-length trousers and ties, while women dressed in their finest full-length skirts and bustles. It was generally accepted that white was the best colour choice for the game as it didn’t reveal sweat patches as easily as other colours. As the game evolved, the clothing evolved with it. Rather than emulating the latest high street fashions, tennis clothing has become a fashion unto itself. Featuring the best in performance fabric technology, tennis clothes are ideal for wicking away sweat, keeping players cool, enabling movement, keeping their shape and demonstrating the further potential for the future of sports retail.

Football kits as leisurewear  

Another super popular sport which has influenced fashion trends has undoubtedly been football. The invention of the Football League in 1888 brought with it a club culture that has prevailed throughout the years. Clubs were requested to create kits for their players with matching colours so that fans could identify their players on the pitch and wear their club’s colours in support of their team. Kits evolved again in the 1970s when brands realised the potential for advertising in front of TV audiences. This move generated huge amounts of revenue for brands and clubs as kit merchandise became a fashion staple among the fans.

Trainers have always been a firm fashion favourite

Tracksuits go mainstream 

Once worn exclusively on the racetrack, tracksuits were a functional outfit designed for maximum stretch, flexibility, and breathability on the sports field. But in 1967, Adidas released a celebrity-endorsed, branded tracksuit which changed the trajectory of how we wear tracksuits forever. The hip hop scene grabbed the tracksuit and ran with it, sealing its position as a wardrobe staple throughout the 80s and 90s along with its partner in crime, the hoodie. The hoodie became a classic look at poker tables in the late 2000s and has since become a constant in the world of fashion. The 2010s saw the popularity of tracksuits and hoodies decline marginally, but both have recently experienced something of a revival as the post luxe trend has relaunched it into the mainstream fashion stores once more. 

Trainers become a wardrobe staple  

Tennis was also the birthplace of the soft-soled pump, which was even seen on the likes of Henry VIII. But these crude plimsolls didn’t have a left or right and were notoriously uncomfortable. However, in 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company designed and produced the first comfortable rubber shoes called Keds, which revolutionised the sneaker and were an immediate success. Marquis Converse followed suit with the manufacture of the legendary Converse All-Stars, designed to be worn on the basketball court, then a man by the name of Adi Dassler invented Adidas in 1924 which quickly became the shoe of choice on the racetrack. In 1984, Michael Jordan sported the Nike Air Jordans and the rest, as they say, is history. Trainers hit the mainstream and quickly became a fashion staple in wardrobes around the world.

From the 18th century plimsolls and bustles on the court to air-filled athletic shoes and advanced performance fabric technology, sports fashion has evolved drastically over the years. Whether you’re a fan of sneakers and tracksuits or not, one thing is for sure – they are certainly here to stay!

Terry Clark
Author: Terry Clark

Advertisement