The influence of sports in the fashion world is undeniable. It is impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing the Kardashians rocking sleek biker shorts or pop stars like Ariana Grande wearing oversized Nike sweaters.
It’s hard to avoid Lululemon activewear hauls on TikTok, or self-proclaimed “sneakerheads” flaunting their latest sneaker purchases.
The influence of sports on the fashion world has unquestionably drawn in a large range of audiences into the fashion sphere. “Sporty fashion” is a largely intuitive and accessible style, and is designed for a large array of audiences.
“I think that the influence of sports has opened a lot of people into fashion, especially men, as it’s something that is familiar to them,” second-year fashion merchandising and art major Reilly Gallagher said.
Sports in the mainstream fashion realm is not a recent occurrence — the influence of sports in fashion can be dated back to the early 20th century.
During the 1920s, short skirts and sleeveless tops were popularized on the tennis court by world-renowned tennis player Suzanne Lenglen. Lenglen’s disregard for the Wimbledon tennis tournament’s long-standing tradition of corsets and boots on the tennis court revolutionized how the world perceived women’s sportswear, and began a shift towards practical athletic wear instead.
The British mod subculture of the 1960s and ’70s saw the adoption of tracksuits and timeless Adidas sneakers into everyday fashion. In the 1980s, Nike Cortez sneakers became popularized by track runners and made their way into the hearts of fashion lovers for decades to come.
In the 1990s, streetwear brands such as FILA and Champion gained popularity, while soccer jerseys became a popular fashion statement thanks to stars and athletes like David Beckham.
The 2000s saw the rise of collaborations between sportswear brands and high-end fashion designers, with brands like Adidas and PUMA partnering with designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen.
In 2020, the word “athleisure” was on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and soon made its way into everyone’s wardrobe.
First-year fashion design student Melissa Müller believes that the rise in athleisure is a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic prompted consumers to rethink the way in which they spend their leisure time,” Müller said. “As people began to take more interest in both exercising and leisure time at home, athleisure allowed for the questioning of dress codes in a world where we didn’t really need them anymore.”
Activewear has now become so engrained in fashion history that it is normalized to the general public.
The bottom line is that as the populace continues to face uncertainties, they continue to stick to what is familiar to them.
“It ties into the Y2K takeover in fashion, while definitely contributing to the rise in niche subcultures and trends such as ‘bloke-core,’ which was a micro-trend built around simple sporty pieces such as jerseys,” says Gallagher. “Sports allows for comfort and familiarity, which is a really big thing.”