The Link Between Sportswear and Fashion

Not too long ago, sportswear and fashion were two completely different things. Sportswear was, as the name suggests clothing for sports, and fashion was whatever clothes were trending at the time.

How did Sportswear and Fashion First Link?

The rise of competitive sports and bodybuilding has led to many sports enthusiasts having celebrity status. This in turn leads the general public, who tend to look at these people as role models, to want to copy them which also includes their dress code.

Take the world-famous basketball player Michael Jordan for example who used his celebrity status to partner up with Nike and make a “sub” brand called Air Jordan. The first Air Jordan shoes were produced in 1984 and have been trending since then.

Tracksuits – How did it happen?

Colour-coordinating stretchy tracksuits became popular in the mid-1970s by Bruce Lee who introduced them into fashion and not just for sports.  As soon as tracksuits became a major fashion icon, sportswear companies started producing tracksuits that weren’t particularly meant for sports.

Materials like Gore-Tex led to tracksuits being made with extra comfort to be worn as casual wear and this led to the new modern “shell suit” being produced. The tracksuits of the 60s and 70s were made with more insulating materials for outdoor wear but modern tracksuits use moisture-wicking fabrics for more practical use.

The Hip-Hop Scene

Hip-hop music became big in America in the 70s when a lot of African American immigrants started to move to places like New York. It was all about bling and a lot of the rappers bragged about drug dealers with heaps of money and this kind of music became very popular internationally.

Adidas trainers and tracksuits were trending among the youth in the New York Hip-Hop scene and this led to it becoming a trendy choice of clothing along with the new style of music.


Athleisure has been trending since 2014 and is a hybrid of sportswear and casual wear. It has become really popular and is promoted by many different celebrities. Athleisure is changing the world of fashion and in a few years, it could be one of the fashion industry’s biggest assets.

Cult Brands

Many sportswear brands reach cult status and this means that they aren’t just selling a product, they are selling a lifestyle. This helped sportswear intertwine with fashion as certain brands became fashionable among certain types of people.

For example, the cult fashion brand; Fila was established in 1911 by two brothers in the small town of Biella, in the mountainous region of Northern Italy. Starting off manufacturing knitwear and underwear only, it wasn't until 1923 when the Fila brothers formed a partnership with Maglificio Biellese, that the brand we know well today, really took off.

By the 1940s, Fila was filling the gap in the sportswear market and became a huge sensation in the 1970s in the tennis scene, with a major endorsement from the legendary tennis player; Bjorn Borg.

By the 1990s, Fila was not only known for its achievements in the world of tennis but also developments were made in the direction of basketball shoes and other sportswear. The brand had already been embraced by the hip-hop culture during the 1980s and to this day, Fila remains a huge fashion icon, as well as a reputable brand of activewear.