The fashion industry is hugely influential to the point that it can make or break trends in all sorts of arenas, even in those only tangentially related.
One of the biggest examples of this occurred when the rise of stylish sportswear suddenly made it cool to run. This fashion trend elevating running above the straightforward form of exercise that it had been seen as in the past.
Here’s a look at what enabled the running revolution and the role that fashion brands had in catalyzing it.
The Power of Celebrity
It is impossible to talk about the rise of fashion-focused sportswear without touching on the rich and famous turning functional clothing into must-have garments.
Starting in the 1980s, professional athletes, as well as the stars of stage and screen, began to be seen in branded, designer sportswear. Manufacturers realized that if they could get their logos noticed by the public, they would inevitably sell more.
This time also coincided with an increased interest in health and fitness, especially amongst the middle classes. Of course, if you see celebrities out and about in the latest training tops, shorts and sneakers, then you will not only want to emulate their exercise routines, but also their workout wardrobes. In the modern age, celebrity endorsements and tie-ins take this even further.
The Affordability & Timelessness
Another aspect of why the fashion industry was so eager to push sportswear once it got its first taste was because of the inexpensive production costs. From the best sunglasses for running on the road to the top training shoes for the track, the relative simplicity of the designs – combined with the minimal materials needed to make them – meant that manufacturers could make a mint on the markup of designer sportswear.
Meanwhile, another perk from a design perspective is that while fashion in the sportswear sector does cycle quite quickly, the underlying designs for the key pieces required for running or any other activity do not need significant change. This timelessness continues to pay dividends from a cost-saving perspective for manufacturers, while also meaning that people who pick up gear can then keep using it for years without feeling like they are falling behind the times.
Sportswear did not just became fashionable because activities like jogging and running were made into mainstream hobbies for millions. The sheer versatility of this type of clothing allowed it to become accepted in a lot of other contexts too.
It is perfectly normal to see people wearing garments that are ostensibly designed for exercise in bars, restaurants and even business meetings. This is not just because of changing trends, but also as a result of how comfortable sportswear tends to be in comparison with traditional garb.
People who picked up running gear to fulfill their fitness goals can also happily slip into it for everyday errands and other occasions, while still feeling cool and en vogue.
There is one final talking point relating to sportswear, fitness and the fashion industry – the kind of tribalism which is innate to humanity.
By designer brands entering the market and promoting their products against rivals, this could rub off on consumers, creating a kind of product fueled war of loyalty. Nike, Adidas and Reebok have all capitalized on this, but high end fashion houses are equally invested in this approach.
Running remains a pastime which is unavoidably associated with being seen by others, and if you can wear the colors and designs of a brand you love while doing it, then it’s all the better. And so, fashion and sportswear look set to maintain their close relationship indefinitely, even if specific brands may rise and fall.