Sports tend to influence many things we consider normal in everyday life. Whatever an athlete is promoting, we’re quick to buy. Fashion houses and designers take style hints from more upscale sports — like horseback riding and tennis — and the popularity of sports has made it possible for us to dress more casually each day.
Sports have influenced fashion in more ways than you might think, and it’s important to take a closer look at those influences to get a better idea of future style trends. Let’s look at some ways in which athletes have become fashion icons and how sports continue to influence the things we wear each day.
Famous athletes have been trendsetters for years. Even now, we love to go back and look at photos and videos of star players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Michael Jordan, for example, may not have been known for what he wore. However, the first Air Jordan shoes were released by Nike in 1984, and different versions continue to be made today that are as popular as ever. It’s not just the name attached to the shoe but also the sense of style associated with them that makes them so desirable for sneakerheads.
According to Athletic Lift, athletes have also made it more popular and appropriate to wear “leisure” outfits just about anywhere. Other fashion trends that stem from the sports world include:
- Brightly-colored clothing;
- Pleated skirts;
- Collegiate branding;
- Sweater vests;
- Knit shirts.
You may not realize it, but many of today’s most popular styles stem from sports history. The pleated skirt, for example, was first used in the 1920s as more women started to participate in sports. Flat-heeled shoes have also come into popularity from the sports world. Even in business industries, people are taking a more casual approach to what they wear. A lot of the fabric choices of today, including knit and cotton, were originally used in athleticwear to provide comfort and breathability.
Of course, athletic fashion isn’t all about comfort and breathable clothing. Some sports, including equestrian, tennis, and golf, tend to have very specific uniforms that focus on what we would consider traditional fashion. Because of these traditional outfits, it’s easy to look at an equestrian rider as depicting timeless elegance. Certain images likely come to mind, including:
- White breeches;
- Tucked-in shirts;
- Velvet collars.
It’s also easy to think about how these timeless fashions influence what we wear on a daily basis, especially when we’re trying to look more upscale. The same goes for things like polo shirts and pleated pants in golf — or skirts and collared shirts in tennis. Because these are sports that are often considered to be classy, we’ve taken the fashion trends from them and morphed them into pieces that are acceptable for everything from the workday to a first date.
If you aren’t convinced, take a look at famous clothing brands like Ralph Lauren. Lauren always wanted to work in the sports industry but when he got into fashion, he was able to combine the two, creating unique designs that have stood the test of time and continue to set standards for high-class sporting events. Obviously, Lauren’s fashion has gone beyond the world of sports, serving as the top name in preppy-but-casual style for many years.
We can look at athletic fashion from years past and smile, recognizing that many of the trends of yesterday are starting to gain popularity again.
However, it’s also interesting to think about how the future of sports will impact the fashion industry. For example, esports are continuing to gain traction across the globe. The esports audience reaches nearly 300 million viewers. This widespread popularity will likely have an effect on fashion.
For starters, esports and virtual reality platforms have inspired fashion houses across the globe, prompting designers to create things like Metaverse wearables. It might sound silly at first, but the idea of owning wearables is a big deal for many people, like gamers, who spend a lot of time in the digital space. Metauniverses are expanding, and both fashion and sports play big roles within them.
While tangible fashion isn’t going anywhere, it’s interesting to see how something as simple as sports has crossed over into the digital atmosphere, influencing designers to create looks that people are willing to pay for to boost their notoriety and popularity.
Whether you realize it on a daily basis or not, sports have been influencing fashion for years. From casual attire to traditional, elegant looks, you can find crossovers from the sports world to the runway everywhere you look. If you checked your closet right now, you’d probably see several instances of sports-influenced fashion that you regularly wear.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, learning more about how athletes, sports traditions, and the functionality of athleticism have influenced fashion over the years is something that shouldn’t be ignored. The more you pay attention to these trends, the easier it will be to see where fashion might go in the future.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2018. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.