There is probably nothing more unstable than fashion. It seems that it changes with each new season’s wind and it might be hard to keep up with the newest trends if you are a real fashionista. On the other hand, fashion changes because of new technologies, or economic and even social and political reasons.
Sportswear, as one branch of fashion, was also influenced by many aspects of society living. In the beginning, it was designed only to cover yourself and feel comfortable, but as time passed by, clothing became a way to show off your sense of style and personality too.
Let’s take a brief look at the history of women’s sportswear. It is probably one of the most problematic fashion industries since sportswear in many cases, throughout history, was used even as a method of rebellion and political activism! However, at the same time, it had always been an integral part of our lives, and now, we can see a giant leap in the future of sportswear as well.
The Birth of Women’s Sportswear
At the early ages of sportswear, there are a few main factors which influenced the way people dressed up for sports. At that time, the most popular games included horses, hunting, and shooting. Therefore, clothing was made directly for such types of sports. Other kinds of sports, like tennis and golf, were also pretty popular too. However, the central aspect of this era is that it wasn’t important for a woman to win. Hence, clothing wasn’t designed to make movements easier and freer.
In fact, long and heavy skirts, tight sleeved jackets to cover the whole body and hats were worn, for instance, to play tennis. There were even more over-the-top outfits from that era too. This sounds absolutely ridiculous for us today, but at that time it was considered as “appropriate” attire for such an active leisure time.
Thankfully, women realized that such attires are neither helpful or healthful, as so in 1922, Suzanne Lenglen was the first lady tennis player who showed up to the court wearing a short and comfortable skirt without a hat. After that, a noticeable shift in women’s sportswear (at least on tennis courts anyway) began. On the other hand, during both World Wars, women’s fight for gender equality and rights and invention of new materials were hugely influential in women’s sportswear fashion too.
From 1930’s, skiing became one of the most popular sports at that time. Clothing was made with slopes in mind, and there were a lot of long and slender silhouettes coming around. Surely, trousers were worn, instead of skirts, due to practical and functioning reasons. Also, it is important to note that trousers were not acceptable to wear for other sports until the mid-thirties.
However, as mentioned, one of the most influential factors in women’s sportswear was war. After 1945, after the end of the Second World War, a whole new range of synthetic fibers gained their popularity in a wide range of fashion industries, including sportswear. Nylon, in particular, was the one which shook things up and introduced a brand new philosophy and style of active leisure time. Functionalism, comfort, and good looks became strongly associated with sports clothes in the 1950s, and since then, we can enjoy a whole new point of view to clothing.
Sports Fashion Today
Right now, it is all about practicality, functionality, and health. Stylishness is also important, but if the materials and fabrics are not that great, it might do more harm than help you. Therefore, the sports fashion industry now focuses on introducing innovations like wicking fabrics, which are also called ‘performance fabrics’ or ‘technical fabrics’ that help women to work out as much as they want without getting all sweaty, and also prevents injuries while looking great all at the same time.
Athletes are turning to compression sportswear as well since it helps to deal with blood pleasure, encourages healing and prevents muscle soreness. Anti-microbial treatments to reduce or prevent bad odor of clothing are also now a pretty standard feature. Lycra/Spandex (Elastane) has been around for a while, and it is slowly gaining popularity.
On the other hand, there are many great new sportswear brands which manage to balance fashion, functionality, and performance all in one. So nowadays, when being fashionable and stylish is important for people even at the gym, there is no need to make compromises with yourself – you can have it all!
In the end, it always pays off to keep an eye on where sportswear fashion is heading as well. The near-future of sportswear seems pretty promising, especially when it comes to textiles, functionality, and performance endurance. Smart textiles and wearable technologies are two terms most talked about in the future of sportswear. These are divided into two different categories: aesthetic (color changing or illuminant textile) and performance enhancing (regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance, and control muscle vibration), and now they are appearing more and more frequently in the world of fashion wear.
There are some new trends of custom-made sportswear as well. However, retailing giants like Nike, Puma, Reebok or New Balance always try to introduce something new and make it accessible for bigger masses. Reebok, Puma, and Nike coupons also allow you to keep up with the latest trends without overspending.
In the End
Some people say that sportswear fashion was probably one of the main contributors to the history of fashion design, not only in the United States but also the whole world. This industry was the first one to introduce new styles, to open discussions on gender rights and empowered women in many different ways.
Today, sportswear might not be carrying such strong messages and might not be making such a huge influence, but it is still a very important part of the society. After all, we are not wearing hoodies only in the gym anymore. More and more of us choose this type of clothing for everyday wear because it is comfortable and it just looks good.
The future of sportswear seems promising as well since there are many people who are working to make it the best it can be. We can only sit, observe and, mostly wait for another huge leap in the fashion, because it seems that sportswear fashion was, is, and will be, one of the main reasons why fashion moves forward in general.
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