Words by: Kristy Archibald
Leggings, ballet flats, hoodies, you name it! Throughout the 20th and 21st century, the lines have been blurred between ‘street’ and ‘active’ wear, as women increasingly opt for a wardrobe that is stylish, comfortable and most importantly, practical to suit their everyday bossgal’ hustle.
Fashion has come full circle. Since the beginning, the runway has been used to inspire the trends of the season. Now, ‘street style’ is the primary influence for many designers. We dictate what we want to see and as a result, our workout uniform has become a significant fashion statement and the next best thing to Chanel suits and Louboutins!
Early on in the 19th century, sportswear was used to describe informal separates that were interchangeable and typically worn to social sporting events.
Initially, athletic designs were intended to be simple, practical and easy to care for so that women could dress themselves without the assistance of a maid – can you imagine!
Today, almost every high-end designer has an athletic line and has somehow incorporated different trends and styles that have been influenced directly by sportswear.
How has this shift in style come to be? Well just like anything in the life of a woman, it’s been quite the journey...!
The Roaring 1920’s
Pants for women become a thing – oh my!
If Coco Chanel is known for anything, it’s breaking the boundaries of style conformity. She successfully tamed the obnoxious, superfluous style of the 20’s and introduced looks that were simple, practical and chic - specifically her jersey suits. She had set her mind to doing away with riding sidesaddle and created a pair of pants that would do the trick. They were unaccepted, but being the rule breaker that she was, she wore them on the regular and clearly the trend eventually stuck!
Chanel became one of the first haute couture designers to introduce what the media considered to be, “sports type” clothing – could they sound any more uncomfortable about the style?!
Other designers to take note of in this era -> Jane Régny and Suzanne Lenglen, two well-known Parisian tennis players made their mark by opening a couture house strictly devoted to selling active wear for women, specifically for sport and travel, AKA ‘chic resort wear’ for the rich and famous.
The re-fashion of fashion!
After WW2 French fashion and American fashion went in two completely different directions.
Christian Dior initiated a style that was more luxurious than ever, which Parisian’s lusted after.
America stuck to its roots and popularized stretchy fabrics and nylons, which looked great and were hella comfy!
The 1960’s + 70’s
Tracksuits and sneakers were born!
These two eras were all about athletic shorts, windbreakers, and tracksuits all thanks to the one and only - Bruce Lee. This fad blew up the runways and maintained its popularity through to today, thanks to Adidas, Nike, and other sportswear fashion names.
Also of notable mention: the Stan Smith sneaker - a design created after the top tennis legend of the 70’s. Stan’s and the iconic striped ‘Superstars,’ first became popular within the hip-hop community, but have since made many reappearances in mainstream fashion.
The 1980’s + 90’s
The era of Farrah Fawcett and workout gear!
Throughout the 80’s and 1990’s athletic wear began to take shape and become it’s own significant style, and to this day is trademarked as the primary style of this time. Think body suits, sweat bands, bike shorts, puffer jackets and spandex, which can all be found in those memorizing 80’s/ 90’s workout videos archived in the depths of Youtube.
Designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger became leaders in sportswear, as they worked to design multipurpose clothing that combined luxury, style and practicality – the definition of Athleisure today. Trendsetters of this look were big celebrities, such as Jay-Z and Sporty Spice!
The 2000’s – present
Athletic gear goes chic!
2014 was the pivotal moment in high fashion and activewear designs, coining the term ‘Athleisure’ for the first time.
The trickle up effect had begun to take place, with street style acting as the major influence in high-end designs. Adidas and Nike began collaborating with couture and street wear designers like Givenchy and Topshop, and fashion icons, like Jeremy Scott, Pharrell Williams, and Kanye West to fully actualize ‘Athleisure,’ as a coveted form of fashion.
Gone are the days when you have to be an athlete to wear a sports bra (thank god). A woman, no matter what her athletic ability, can integrate this sporty look into her wardrobe with ease, as she goes on to dress to conquer the world on the daily. Want to read more about how we’ve jumped on the Athleisure train? Head over to learn more about the [a] collection by Fond Boutique HERE.
As always, stay tuned for next month’s Fond Flashback, the section where we feature paramount moments in fashion history.