In the 1930s and '40s, it was rare for clothing to be justified through its practicality. It was traditionally thought that Paris fashion exemplified beauty, and therefore, sportswear required different criteria for assessment. The designer's personal life was therefore linked to their sportswear designs. Another selling point was sportswear's popularity with consumers, with department store representatives such as Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor using sales figures to back up their claims. Maxwell and Potter were two of the first three sportswear designers, along with Helen Cookman, to be showcased and name-checked in Shaver's window displays and advertisements for Lord & Taylor. Between 1932 and 1939, Shaver's "American Look" program at Lord & Taylor promoted over sixty American designers including McCardell, Potter and Merry Hull. Shaver advertised her American designers as if they were French couturiers, and promoted their lower costs as a positive feature, rather than a sign of inferiority. One of Shaver's retail experiments was a 'College Shop' section in the store, opened in the early 1930s and run by her assistant Helen Maddock, with the intent of offering casual but flattering clothing to young female college students. The stock, however, ended up selling swiftly to adult women as well as to the students.
Whether you're a hardcore gym rat, a runner, a climber or a fitness beginner, we've got men's workout clothes to suit. Performance T-Shirts and mesh tanks keep you cool and dry, while slouchy joggers, knit and woven workout pants and sleek athletic tights are all designed to maximize comfort and ease movement. Check out our wide selection of men's cross training shoes, running shoes and athletic shoes too—because the right footwear and gym shoes are key to taking you all the way to your fitness goals. Once you've chosen the activewear and training gear that's right for you, find a rugged gym bag to stash it all when you're on the go.
Alongside Dorothy Shaver, Eleanor Lambert was an important promoter of the American Look and sportswear. As founder of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and creator of New York Fashion Week, Lambert is considered the first fashion publicist. In the summer of 1940, Lambert was hired by the Dress Institute to promote American fashion, leading to newspaper and magazine articles about how New York was replacing Paris as a global fashion leader. In 1940, both Harper's Bazaar and Vogue published issues devoted to American fashion.
As more generic, versatile sportswear became more prominent in the Paris collections, the press increasingly promoted the wearing of such garments in an everyday context. By the mid-1920s, American advertisers also began actively pushing the idea that sporty clothing was just as appropriate for regular daywear as it was for active pursuits, presenting it as the epitome of modernity and the American ideal. One advertisement put out by Abercrombie & Fitch in Vogue in 1929 suggested that while men might admire a girl in an glamorous evening gown, they would be less intimidated by her approachable, friendly appearance in good-quality sportswear. Sportswear was also presented as an accessible version of resort wear, a term for the luxurious travelling clothing and holiday wear worn by those who could afford a leisurely lifestyle with multiple vacations, such as cruises, yachting, and skiing. Affordable, well-designed all-American sportswear was presented as a way of enabling a less wealthy customer to feel part of that same lifestyle. However, at first, American apparel firms mostly copied French styles.
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. 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. 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. Her designs incorporated leather bindings, pockets with purse clasps, hooded jersey dresses and tops, and industrial zippers and fastenings. 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, and her ponchoes and hoods (which could be rolled down to form elegant cowl-collars) were originally designed for driving on cool mornings. Cashin became one of the first American designers to have an international reputation. 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."
Many of the first sportswear designers were women, including McCardell, Potter, Elizabeth Hawes, Emily Wilkens, Tina Leser, and Vera Maxwell. A common argument was that female designers projected their personal values into this new style. One of the few male designers at this time was Tom Brigance, who by the late 1930s was regularly ranked alongside Potter as a leading name in mid-range priced sportswear. Like Potter, Brigance understood how to design smart and fashionable clothing for mass-production, which made his clothes attractive to manufacturers as well as to customers. Two other notable male designers of sportswear at this time were Sydney Wragge and John Weitz.
Choose from either the Rec Kit (made for everyday activity), or the Tech Kit (which is designed to keep you cool during high intensity workouts) from this brand and you’ll get a matching top and bottom for $95. While that’s a good chunk of change, the company focuses on making versatile products that can handle a ton of work, so it will be worth every penny.
“I have multiple pairs of shorts, shirts, and tank tops from Rhone. I really enjoy their gear for going on runs or bootcamp-style classes, where I don't have to worry about them wearing from a barbell. They are comfortable, and have enough stretch in them that allows zero restriction. The clothing is presentable and fitted, which in my line of work really is helpful.”
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?