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The rise of athleisure wear

Britain's Princess of Wales departing her London health club
Image credit: JOHNNY EGGITT via Getty Images

Sportswear has been embraced not only for physical activities but also as a fashion choice for everyday wear, as evidenced by the widespread appeal of athleisure. Read how this shift is reshaping perceptions of fashionable bodies and altering the connection between clothing and the body.

Trace the origins of sportswear to the 1920s, when leisure time and the popularity of sports such as tennis and golf increased after the First World War, through to the 1980s when athletic apparel firmly established itself on the catwalk. Specifically, learn how the polo shirt, a symbol of preppy, collegiate style was adapted by designers and evolved from a sportswear item to a catwalk classic.

The casual sportswear market continues to be shaped by health and fitness pursuits, professional sports, renowned brands, designers, as well as the worlds of music, television, and cinema. Learn about the approach of two industry leading brands, Bhumi Organic Cotton, established to offer an eco-friendly alternative to cotton farming, and Rsport, a women's athletic brand committed to enhancing the quality of sportswear clothing for plus-sized female athletes.

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Olympic dress and uniforms

Shoes are seen at Overkill sneakers store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany during sale of New KAWS x Air Jordan IV sneakers
Image credit: Maja Hitij via Getty Images

In the world of fashion, the Olympics serve as a global stage for showcasing technological and design innovation and brand identity, allowing athletes to wear forms of dress that designate their country and cultural values. Consider the example of swimsuits, which found their way into the fashion world due to women challenging conventions through swimming, resulting in the fusion of sport and fashion.

Read about the growing presence of sports competitions for people with disabilities, exemplified by events like the Special Olympics and Paralympic Games and the influence of clothing on athletes' competitive performance and overall sporting approach in this area.

Dive into the unique case of Imperial Stock Ranch and Shaniko Wool Company, chosen by Ralph Lauren for the knitwear in the Opening and Closing Ceremony Uniforms, and worn by Team USA for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games at Pyeongchang 2018.

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Fabrics for sportswear

Adem Asil of Turkey reacts to his gold medal-winning routine during the Men's Artistic Gymnastics Rings Final at the World Gymnastics Championships-Liverpool 2022 at the M&S Bank Arena
Image credit: Tim Clayton via Getty Images

Historically, sports and fashion occupied different ends of the style spectrum. Explore how the sports industry has led the way in fabric technology and high-performance designs, which are now being incorporated into the wider industry.

Follow the transformation of the sport shoe from simple, versatile canvas and rubber designs in the post-World War II era to a diverse range of intricate footwear crafted from synthetic materials. Equestrian attire has evolved to incorporate modern materials such as cotton-lycra for breeches and polystyrene helmets, aligning it with the high-tech clothing found in other sports. In activewear and swimwear, specialised materials have been adapted to produce the utmost stretch and negative ease during fitting.

Finally, learn about the collaboration between Adidas and Parley for the Oceans and their environmental initiative to address rising marine pollution by converting plastic waste into fibres using 3D-printing technology.

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