How sportswear became high fashion

How sportswear became high fashion

   From David Kenworthy


How did sportswear become not only the norm, but the high fashion choice for just about everybody?

Tennis style: From the court, to the runway, to the street


Often associated with country clubs and aristocrats, tennis wear has been consistently referenced since the 1920s in prep, resort and collegiate styles. These associations have helped brands such as Fred Perry reach cult status. Emerging with the prep styles of British Mod subculture, Fred Perry has become a 100% street fashion brand despite its athletic roots.

When tracksuits became leisure suits (thanks in part to Bruce Lee)


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.

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.

Perennial sneaker style


In the 1970s, Adidas’ designed Stan Smith tennis shoes for playing tennis. Initially called the Robert Haillet, the iconic shoe was renamed Stan Smith in 1971, after the era’s top tennis player. These sneakers were relegated to sporting types until they were adopted by Marc Jacobs and other members of the fashion community in recent years. The sneakers were rereleased with much high fashion fanfare in 2014 and have now reached coveted cult shoe status.

When yoga pants escaped the studio


We’re as confounded as you are. How did a functional piece of clothing meant to be worn behind closed doors among yoga practitioners hit the streets? The theory: they’re so comfortable, yogis didn’t want to take them off.

Luckily, the yoga pants’ precursor never made its way to the street, despite also being outrageously comfortable. Yes, we’re talking about the distinctly unfashionable 1970s unitard. One could argue that yoga stopped being freaky and got fashionable once the unitard was completely eliminated from the yoga studio’s repertoire.


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