The precursors of true sportswear emerged in New York before the Second World War.[2] Clare Potter and Claire McCardell were among the first American designers in the 1930s to gain name recognition through their innovative clothing designs, which Martin described as demonstrating "problem-solving ingenuity and realistic lifestyle applications".[10] Garments were designed to be easy-to-wear and comfortable, using practical fabrics such as denim, cotton, and jersey.[18] McCardell in particular has been described as America's greatest sportswear designer.[18] Her simple, practical clothes suited the relaxed American dress code, neither formal nor informal, that became established during the 1930s and 1940s.[2] McCardell once proclaimed: "I belong to a mass production country where any of us, all of us, deserve the right to good fashion."[19] Martin credits the 1930s and 40s sportswear designers with freeing American fashion from the need to copy Paris couture. Where Paris fashion was traditionally imposed onto the customer regardless of her wishes, American sportswear was democratic, widely available, and encouraged self-expression.[10] The early sportswear designers proved that the creation of original ready-to-wear fashion could be a legitimate design art which responded stylishly to utilitarian requirements.[10]
The precursors of true sportswear emerged in New York before the Second World War.[2] Clare Potter and Claire McCardell were among the first American designers in the 1930s to gain name recognition through their innovative clothing designs, which Martin described as demonstrating "problem-solving ingenuity and realistic lifestyle applications".[10] Garments were designed to be easy-to-wear and comfortable, using practical fabrics such as denim, cotton, and jersey.[18] McCardell in particular has been described as America's greatest sportswear designer.[18] Her simple, practical clothes suited the relaxed American dress code, neither formal nor informal, that became established during the 1930s and 1940s.[2] McCardell once proclaimed: "I belong to a mass production country where any of us, all of us, deserve the right to good fashion."[19] Martin credits the 1930s and 40s sportswear designers with freeing American fashion from the need to copy Paris couture. Where Paris fashion was traditionally imposed onto the customer regardless of her wishes, American sportswear was democratic, widely available, and encouraged self-expression.[10] The early sportswear designers proved that the creation of original ready-to-wear fashion could be a legitimate design art which responded stylishly to utilitarian requirements.[10]
Martin has observed that in America, prior to increasing worker freedoms from the mid-late 19th century onwards, leisure had been a luxury available only to the leisured classes during the Industrial Revolution (c.1760-1860), and before that, Puritan America had condemned leisure for all. He cites the 1884 Georges Seurat painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte as an immobile, "static and stratified" depiction of leisure in "direct antithesis" of the relaxed, casual American equivalent.[4] T.J. Clarke notes how La Grande Jatte illustrates people from the breadth of Paris society taking advantage of their free time by going to the riverside to show off new clothes, but that the act of removing one's jacket or otherwise loosening garments as a signifier of actually being at leisure was almost never done.[9]

Along with many other designers, Gernreich took advantage of the development in the mid-1950s of upgraded machine-knitting techniques to produce his work.[22] Double knitting (which was developed in Italy) enabled the mass-production of easy-to-wear knitted suits, coats and dresses that retained their shape and became a key American look in the 1960s and '70s.[22][39] Another knitwear development involved varying the lines of the classic T-shirt so that it could be extended into dress-length versions, long or short sleeves, and other variations, including, by 1960, a sequined long evening version by Kasper for Arnold & Fox.[22] In the 1960s, American sportswear depended on very simple shapes, often made in vivid colours and bold, geometric prints (such as those by Gernreich and Donald Brooks).[22]

“I’m extremely picky when it comes to performance gear. It all comes down to comfort for me. I prefer the tighter, slim fit, which is why I’m currently digging Outdoor Voice’s Sunday Shorts. They are the perfect length, extremely comfortable, and not ‘poofy’ on my legs, which is key for me—I have a tough time finding shorts that don’t flare out at the sides due to the pockets. I also love how versatile they are— I’ll wear them during a high intensity workout at my gym, but also while I’m waking my dog or going to the grocery store.
The Renaissance period marked the rebirth of scientific advancement, music, and the arts throughout Europe. Renaissance clothing reflects the vibrancy of culture and innovative tailoring techniques that marked the period of 1400 to 1600. Historical Clothing Realm features a generous selection of historically accurate Renaissance clothing, including dresses, jerkins, coats, vests, shirts, boots, and more.
“I’m a fan of minimalism and understatement. No Bull apparel and shoes are not flashy, yet have a bold, unique design with quality material that doesn’t intrude on your performance. Living in a time where your appearance and activities often reflect your values and identity, I strongly identify with the brand’s message of no BS and putting in the work. I feel their products inspire and allow you to do just that.”
Rebecca Arnold and Emily S. Rosenberg have noted how the American look, demonstrated through healthy teeth and the use of affordable, good-quality fashionable clothing to present a neat and practical appearance, despite claims of egalitarianism, was ultimately held up against white standards of beauty.[31][32] Rosenberg has pointed out a six-page spread in LIFE dated May 21, 1945, which explicitly described girls with an athletic 'American look' of good teeth, good grooming, and good, not-too-masculine, simple, neat attire, as being seen as preferable to girls from England, France, Australia or Polynesia.[32][33]
In the 1950s and 1960s, designers continued to develop the theme of affordable, practical and innovative sportswear, producing clothing that focused on wearability rather than fashion fads, including Anne Fogarty's coat-and-dress sets and dresses made with removable waistcoats to alter their look.[34][35][36] The film costume designer Bonnie Cashin, who started producing ready-to-wear clothing in 1949, is considered one of the most influential American sportswear designers.[22] She was known for her extremely practical layered ensembles inspired by ethnographic garments and textiles such as the Japanese kimono and happi, ikats, and the South American poncho.[22][37][38] Her designs incorporated leather bindings, pockets with purse clasps, hooded jersey dresses and tops, and industrial zippers and fastenings.[22][38] She put a brass clip resembling those used on dog leashes, on a long formal skirt so that it could be securely hitched up to enable the wearer to run up and down stairs,[38] and her ponchoes and hoods (which could be rolled down to form elegant cowl-collars) were originally designed for driving on cool mornings.[22] Cashin became one of the first American designers to have an international reputation.[22] Alongside Cashin, Rudi Gernreich emerged in the 1950s as a key name in sportswear design, first becoming known for his swimsuits, but then expanding into geometrically cut, graphic clothes and knitwear that Kirkland described as the epitome of the "new California."[22]
While 1920s Paris designers offered haute couture designs that could be considered sportswear, it was typically not their design focus.[10] A notable exception was the tennis player Jane Régny (the pseudonym of Madame Balouzet Tillard de Tigny), who opened a couture house specialising in clothing for sport and travel.[8][11][12] Another famous tennis player, Suzanne Lenglen, was director of the sportswear department at Jean Patou.[12] In contrast to the flexibility of American sportswear, these expensive couture garments were typically prescribed for very specific circumstances.[10][12] Many couturiers began designing clothing that, whilst suitable for sport, could be worn in a wider range of contexts.[12] Coco Chanel, who promoted her own active, financially independent lifestyle through relaxed jersey suits and uncluttered dresses, became famous for clothes of "the sports type."[8][13] In 1926 Harper's Bazaar reported upon Chanel's sporty garments, noting the absence of equivalent apparel from New York fashion presentations.[8] However, Martin has noted that while Chanel was undeniably important and influential, her work was always based on couture construction rather than the easy-wear nature of American sportswear.[4]
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Sportswear originally described activewear - clothing made specifically for sport. Part of the evolution of sportswear was triggered by 19th-century developments in female activewear, such as early bathing or cycling costumes, which demanded shorter skirts, bloomers, and other specific garments to enable mobility, whilst sports such as tennis or croquet could be played in barely-modified conventional dress.[4] One of the first couturiers to specialise in sports-specific clothing was the British John Redfern who in the 1870s began designing tailored garments for increasingly active women who rode, played tennis, went yachting, and did archery. Redfern's clothes, although intended for specific sporting pursuits, were adopted as everyday wear by his clients, making him probably the first sportswear designer.[7] Also in the late nineteenth century, garments associated with activewear and/or modified from menswear, such as the shirtwaist began to form part of the working woman's wardrobe.[8] Prior to 1920, men and women could both demonstrate their being at leisure simply by removing a jacket, either literally in the case of menswear, or metaphorically by a woman wearing a shirtwaist blouse that resembled a man's shirt worn without a jacket.[4]

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Whether the 411 comes from targeted posts on Facebook, influencers promoting on Instagram, or just a new logo on a slick pair of joggers that catches your eye at the gym, there seem to be a never ending amount of brands producing fitness clothing. And with specialty gear comes specialty prices—most of the newer brands are expensive to the point of being prohibitive, even though they've largely not been tried and tested by the general public. How can you know if you’ll regret shelling out the dough for a shirt one of your favorite follows was rocking on the 'Gram?
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