In the late 1940s and 1950s non-American designers began to pay attention to sportswear, and attempted to produce collections following its principle. French couturiers including Dior and Fath simplified their designs for ready-to-wear production, but at first only the Italian designers understood the sportswear principle. Italy already had a reputation for fine fabrics and excellent workmanship, and the emergence of high quality Italian ready-to-wear that combined this luxury with the casual quality of American sportswear ensured the worldwide success of Italian fashion by the mid-1970s. Italian designers, including Emilio Pucci and Simonetta Visconti, grasped that there was a market for clothing that combined sophistication and comfort. This was a challenge to the American industry. John Fairchild, the outspoken publisher of Women's Wear Daily opined that Krizia, Missoni, and other Italian designers were "the first to make refined sportswear."
The curator Richard Martin put on an exhibition on sportswear in 1985 at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in which he described sportswear as "an American invention, an American industry, and an American expression of style." For Martin, American sportswear was an expression of various predominantly middle-class aspects of American culture, including health ideals, the concept of democracy, ideas of comfort and function, and innovative design which might refer to historical concepts or leisure attributes. The establishment of a five-day working week and an eight-hour working day in America in the mid-20th century led to the need for clothing which enabled the fullest possible enjoyment of such increased leisure time, and was designed accordingly. A subsequent exhibition of 1930s-70s sportswear, also curated by Martin, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1998, was introduced by Philippe de Montebello as showing pioneering garments, whose modesty, comparative simplicity, and wearability treated fashion as a "pragmatic art." de Montebello carefully explained how significant American designers such as Norman Norell, Pauline Trigère, Charles James and Mainbocher, were not considered sportswear designers, as they were not dedicated to the design principles of versatility, accessibility and affordability in the way that Claire McCardell or Emily Wilkens were.
“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.
We decided to help narrow the playing field by asking some of our favorite fitness experts and trainers—you know, the guys who spend their days (and early mornings, and evenings, and sometimes even nights) decked out in activewear and athleisure. Who better to give you the truth about the best fitness gear? Here are pricey men’s activewear and athleisure brands that are worth the price tag, according to trainers and fitness pros.