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.
You might be more familiar with No Bull’s pricey lifting shoes, but did you know they make apparel, too? The brand identifies its target consumer as one who trains hard and doesn't have time for excuses, insisting that its gear will show up if you do, but it can’t show up for you. The clothes are everything you need to workout, and nothing you don’t.
After the Second World War, the emergence in Paris of the luxurious "New Look" popularised by Christian Dior, with its emphasis on accessorising and femininity, was in direct contrast to the relaxed, easy-wear American look. Sally Kirkland, a fashion editor at Vogue and LIFE, noted that McCardell and others had already been thinking along the lines of longer and fuller skirts and fitted bodices, but that unlike Dior's heavily stiffened and corseted designs, they used bias-cut bodices and lightweight, easy-wear circle or pleated skirts to reproduce the same silhouette. Unlike traditional made-to-measure French couture fashion, designed for specific silhouettes, American sportswear was designed to accommodate a variety of body shapes and enable freedom of movement. With the lifting of fabric rationing and restrictions following the War, American designers were able to use unlimited fabric and the development of permanent pleating meant that pleated dresses and full skirts were easy to look after. In addition to this, American stores had begun to recognise the commercial value of separates, with LIFE reporting in 1949 that separates made up an all-time-high of 30% of clothing sales in the States that Fall.
Once you’ve picked out the right shirts and shorts for you, you can also add the basic essentials. We carry underwear, athletic socks, and base layers for added support and comfort. Our socks come in a variety of moisture wicking, cushioned, and colorful designs. Our base layers can provide another layer of warmth, great for early morning or chilly evening work outs.
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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."
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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. 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.
Among the key designs produced by this new generation of American designers were capsule wardrobes such as McCardell's group of five wool jersey pieces from 1934, comprising two tops, long and short skirts, and a pair of culottes; and Maxwell's "weekend wardrobe" of five tweed and flannel garments. Both were designed to accommodate formal and informal occasions depending on how they were assembled and accessorised. McCardell also became well known for designs such as the Monastic and Popover dresses which were versatile enough to work in multiple contexts from swimsuit cover-ups to party dresses. Other McCardell signatures included ballet slippers (made by Ben Sommers of Capezio) as everyday footwear and functional pockets in skirts and trousers. Dressy garments made from casual fabrics, such as McCardell and Joset Walker's evening dresses and dress-and-coat ensembles made out of cotton, became a key sportswear look. The American couturier Norman Norell declared that McCardell could make a smart dress to wear anywhere out of "five dollars worth of common cotton calico." Other sportswear designs often incorporated elements of sporty informal or casual wear, as exemplified by Clare Potter's evening sweater worn with a long skirt draped like a sidesaddle riding habit.
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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?