Blurred Lines Between Streetwear And Sportswear; Is There A Reason?
Sports activities or workouts always require specific clothing in order to make room for stretches, ease and comfort. For the same reason, there has always been a separate category of clothing for such purposes known as sportswear ever since.
Now initially, sportswear was just sports-wear, that is, something you wear for maximum flexibility, mobility and efficiency when you perform a certain sport. But from around the 19th century, sportswear became more than that.
It started influencing the fashion world in a number of ways, and since the 1920s, it has been influencing mainstream fashion in a huge way.
Right now, the term sportswear has come to be almost synonymous with the term streetwear. In fact, many people use it interchangeably.
How did that happen?
That’s our mission today. Let’s delve in to some insights about the booming industry that we talk about everyday – streetwear.
The transition story
Like I mentioned earlier, from around the 1920’s common sportswear apparel such as Tennis shirts, Golf sweaters, cycling or riding jerseys, ski wear, hunting tweeds etc. have all made the transition from their plain original purposes to more stylish versions from the growing appeal of what they looked like or felt like.
This happened more around and soon after the time of the revolution in synthetic fibres during the 1950s.
A little later however, around the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, sportswear as such became a whole new item of youth street fashion in its own right. Surprisingly, it made that huge step from merely “influencing” fashion to becoming a fashion category by itself. This was more so in the US but it soon spread across Western Europe as well.
This was mainly because of the rising popularity of sports brands, their widespread mass market availability especially when compared to the expensive and exclusive designer brands at the time and of course their consistent efforts to influence the fashion market as well.
Now during those times, even as many popular brands started following this youth trend, they kept denying the fact that fashion was the driving factor. They all claimed to believe it was all about professional sports performance and that the clothes just happened to appeal to young customers more.
Meanwhile, sports brands like Adidas and Champion held on tight to their early and blessed association with hip-hop which was of course another youth favorite culture, and Nike spent millions on their marketing programmes to turn sports stars in to fashion leaders who would wear their brand.
Don’t you remember Nike’s most famous endorsement with basketball star Michael Jordan?
Thus, because of the high youth following, most of the items in common sports lockers like sweatshirts, T-shirts, hoodies, sneakers, sweat pants and even accessories like baseball caps started becoming new staples in streetwear in new designs made by new streetwear specialist companies.
Even the very basic nature or aesthetic of streetwear became influenced by sports with bold colors and heavy graphics.
The trend and influence became so huge that some marketing efforts by sports associations in basketball and football, saw the common people in the street wearing clothes in sizes made for the professional athletes. That is how over-sized fashion became a streetwear standard.
From then on, it has been sort of a sartorial one-upmanship for streetwear as a whole. Suffice it to say that streetwear basically owes its immense popularity to the initial sportswear, the makers of easy, comfortable relateable clothing and of course the sports stars.
Author: Bhagya Rose is a die-hard fashion enthusiast, designer and writer, who loves exploring the latest trends in street fashion, indulging herself sans souci in some good old fashioned retail therapy every once in a while and is obsessed with everything Rose Gold.