How Sportswear Transitioned from Leisure to High-End Style

Nike shoes
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In recent years, fashion has undergone something of a transformation. Items of clothing once solely the preserve of sports people, exercise lovers, or someone kicking back to relax at home, have now become a catwalk staple.

Sportswear, in particular, high-end brand sportswear, has evolved to become one of the hottest trends of today. But, more than that, it has transitioned from being purely casual to a wardrobe staple that can be worn in many more situations. Because of this, sportswear is renowned as being one of the most in-demand and versatile styles in modern fashion

The evolution of sportswear

Over the past decade, the launch of brands such as Yeezy and the sports ranges of a number of high-end names such as Balenciaga, Gucci, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton became popular. Some of these brands would previously not have dreamt of having a sportswear line, but demand from the public was high. This was driven largely by the phenomenon of Instagram influencers.

Favouring matching sweatsuits and designer trainers, especially limited editions, this drove forward a huge increase in interest. Google reported that searches for sweatpants surged in the last year and some online retailers stated that sales had increased by as much as 40%.

Some studies found that people were preferring to invest in shoes rather than opt for cheaper versions. This meant that luxury brands using premium materials saw a surge in sales. In fact, athletic shoes constitute one of the most popular categories in the entire footwear market.

Unsurprisingly, the sportswear of the 19th century looked rather different from how it does today. Men would wear specially tailored garments for playing tennis, badminton, yachting, horse riding, or engaging in archery. These would typically be quite similar to regular clothing but would be made with a looser cut and from more breathable fabrics. Additionally, outdoor garments would often be made in lighter-coloured fabrics to stop the wearer from becoming too hot.

In the 1920s, these designs had started to become more fashionable as a number of haute couture brands began making style-conscious options. Coco Chanel started designing jersey suits and plain dresses that were considered “sporty”. Towards the end of the decade, it was becoming more common to wear such items on a day-to-day basis, when at home or while relaxing.

Sportswear
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Shifting trends

By the post-war period, the “sporty” look had fallen out of fashion. Instead, high-glamour and luxury were prominent features in both men’s and women’s collections. Sportswear regained popularity in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, but it wasn’t until the last few years that lux-sports took centre stage.

Looking ahead, this style may not be one that will stick around forever. As often happens with trends, they go from one extreme to the other. This means that, once the current trend of sports attire has run its course, it’s likely we will see a return to incredibly structured styles, sharp tailoring, and extreme embellishment to contrast with the somewhat minimal lux-sports look. But, until then, we can make the best of the huge range of exciting and wonderful sportswear options available both on the high-street and from high-end names.