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Sportswear meets high fashion

I thought it was about time I took a look at exactly why people find sportswear so fashionable. It’s supposed to be clothes you look your worst in, sweat in and even wear for leisure activities but over the years sportswear brands have been competing in price and style with high fashion, but why?


Sportswear could arguably be called America’s contribution to fashion. In the 1920s, if you can believe it, sportswear was the term used to describe the comfortable and casual clothes women wore to watch spectator sports.

The evolution of stretch fabrics facilitated the creation of nylon athletic shorts, zip-up windbreakers and anoraks. Manufacturers began to create colour-coordinated cotton and nylon jersey tracksuits in the 1960s, in the iconic blues, reds and greys now associated with classic sportswear.

In the mid 1970s, Bruce Lee is credited with bringing the classic stretchy tracksuit into mainstream fashion. Suddenly it was cool to wear athletic tracksuits in polyester, cotton, terrycloth and velour for activities that were not even remotely athletic.”

Tennis is a sport that has been played for centuries. Initially created as a hand ball game for monks to play, the monks wore the full habit of their order. When tennis moved more into the mainstream, men and women joined the game. Men wore fashionable attire of the time, including full-length pants, ties and soft soled shoes. Men were required to wear full length pants at Wimbledon up until 1946.

In the 1860s, women’s fashion included fur, bustles and full-length skirts. Clothes were made of heavy fabrics, such as serge and wool.

“The real breakthrough in active wear came after World War II, with the use of synthetic stretch fabrics and nylon, which enabled designers to design knit pullover dresses and sports tops that had unprecedented comfort and motion. Using nylon and and applying design techniques that originated in military clothing, activewear designers were able to create zip pockets, concealed hoods, stirrup straps and other features that are still the norm in skiwear today.


Bright colours and stirrup pants made their way from ski wear into the mainstream during the 1980s. And many of these stylings have been here ever since. While we’ve shed the mainstream acceptance of vivid pink and turquoise one-piece ski suits, 80s ski jackets are highly sought today for their underground and cult appeal. Hot 80’s brands such as Tyrolia are once again coveted.”

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