Sportswear has become an integral part of everyday dress Essay Example
Sportswear can be defined as 'clothes for sport or informal wear.' The Oxford dictionary (1992). This definition is enough to suggest that sports clothing is no longer worn only during sport. Through the twentieth century a shift has occurred in which sports clothing is also worn as informal and fashion wear.
It probably was not until the nineteen seventies that sportswear had a major impact on the fashion world. During the first half of the twentieth century sports were dominated by men. Although women did participate, their role in society was mainly centred on the house and family. As a result sportswear for women was slow to catch on. Sport functioned mainly as a social and leisure activity, and unlike today was not valued as much for its health benefits. Lee-Potter (1984)
During the nineteen twenties a French designer called Jean Patou introduced the public with the...
concept of wearing less for sport. His designs incorporated removing sleeves and raising hemlines for sports dresses. This allowed more freedom of movement and was more appropriate for participating in sports. Patou's modern designs had an impact on day wear as dress hemlines rose simultaneously. Prior to Patou's garments designed specifically for sports there was little distinction between daywear and sportswear. Daywear was normally worn for sport.
Perhaps one of the earliest examples of sportswear becoming fashion wear was in the mid nineteen twenties when towelling 'Oxford bag's', originally worn by Oxford undergraduates over their rowing shorts, were taken on by women as chic day and sportswear. As popularity of active sports such as: punch-bag, water-skiing, running, fencing, mountaineering and ice-skating increased in the nineteen thirties, sportswear developed to be eve
more practical and gradually started to blend in more with the fashion world. Lee-Potter (1984)
'Half the fun in sports - or is it really all the fun? - lies in wearing just the smartest type of sports clothes'. American Vogue (1919)
At the end of the Second World War fabric restrictions were imposed on Britain. The impact this had on sportswear was large. Items such as sports dresses and stockings had become impossible to buy and so women adopted slacks for sportswear. Gradually this revised sportswear merged into everyday fashions, and during the forties and fifties slacks were seen as part of every day dress.
Fashion designers, such as Yves Saint Lauren, Pierre Cardina and Courreges produced sporty, space age clothes. These were not actually designed for sport but more importantly, looked as if they might be. Suitability was taken to its extreme as a fitness craze was emerging. The tracksuit or 'thrill suit' became extremely popular in the sixties and at its most impractical it was made of silver vinyl.
'Sports clothes showed fashion how to be fast and free. Now they show how to steal the thunder from all the other competitors, with racing colours, great goggle glasses, hair binders, all-in-ones, second skin shapes, striding shorts...' British Vogue (1969).
As attitudes gradually began to change teenagers no longer wanted to imitate their parents style of dress. During the fifties and sixties a period of rebellion began. Young people where looking for a way to express themselves by moving away from the conservative look. Lifestyle's changed to become more active and sports orientated and the demand for sporty casual clothes increased. Yoga, squash, tennis, jogging, aerobics and weight
lifting became very popular. The function of sport had evolved. It was no longer mainly a social event but recognised as an essential factor to keep the body healthy. A sports revolution had begun.
With the increasing popularity of sports especially jogging, tracksuits and trainers became very popular. They were being manufactured in a wide range of colours, with coordinating headbands and other accessorises. Shoes needed to match an outfit, and so a huge market was created. Sales for sports brands, such as Adidas, Nike, Puma and Reebok were booming. To keep the demand high brands altered their ranges every session, changing styles, colours and logos. These design alterations had little to do with improving practicality and efficiency for sport, but more to do with promoting the brand to increase sales. Kippen, C (2004)
The tracksuit could be defined as a two-piece outfit worn originally by athletes. Made of heavy cotton or synthetic fibres, the trousers are elasticated at the waist and ankle. In the nineteen seventies when exercise became fashionable, the tracksuit became popular casual attire. Thames and Hudson (1998) p.236.
Figure 1 shows the hip-hop rap band Run DMC, which formed in the late nineteen seventies. From the photo it can be seen that the band member stood on the left is wearing an Adidas tracksuit and black trainers, while the band member stood in the middle is wearing an Adidas tracksuit top, baggy trousers and white trainers and the band member stood on the right is wearing baggy trousers, jacket and Adidas trainers. This picture demonstrates how sportswear influenced daywear. This baggy untailored clothing that requires very little effort to maintain reflects the informal behaviour
and lifestyle of the band.
Band 'Run DMC'
Figure 2 shows a new age hip-hop metal band called Korn that formed in 1994. From the picture it can be seen that the band members are mainly wearing sports clothing. Left of the picture band member J Davis is wearing an Adidas tracksuit and Adidas trainers. The other band members are also wearing Adidas trainers, t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms. This is a good example to show how sportswear is still worn as fashion clothing. Although the band Korn does not play any sports they used to be endorsed by the sports brand Adidas to wear Adidas clothing. This indicates that while the band is happy to wear sportswear as fashion clothing, Adidas is happy to sell their clothing as fashion wear.
Mintel (2003) reports of an emerging fashionable youth sub-culture, in which extreme sports is the focal point. This culture is rebelling away from long working hours and heavy television watching lifestyle. In this alternative culture the interest and participation of extreme sports has merged with music and clothing. A strong emphasis of this culture can be seen through clothing and footwear in particular. Baggy sports clothing is a dominant dress code. It could be said that Korn epitomises this fashion sub-culture, in which 'old school' nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies sportswear has become popular again.
The band has recently ended their endorsement with Adidas and switched to endorsements with Puma and Pony. Rovell, D (2003). Since March 2003 Puma's shares have tripled in value and their sales have risen by 40 %. Mintel (2004). This is indicates that sportswear is still extremely fashionable.
To conclude it would be fair
to say that sportswear has definitely had a huge impact on fashion wear. The fitness craze of the nineteen seventies marked the start of sportswear being worn as fashion wear. Sports brands have capitalised on this and use celebrities as well as sports players to endorse the brand. Wearing sports clothing as everyday wear reflects the less formal attitudes and behaviour that society have gradually adopted over the course of the twentieth century.