One of the biggest surprise trends of spring/summer 2012 was the return of sportswear to the industry’s consciousness, with designers from Shaun Samson to Alexander Wang showcasing a wide variety of sports inspired pieces – something that may or may not have had something to do with the London 2012 Olympic Games. Simply put, sports luxe had never been given as much precedent in menswear.
Although our sporting summer has come to an end, the trend is far from over, with many designers and brands placing fresh emphasis on sportswear for autumn/winter 2012.
Calvin Klein have fully embraced sportswear in their recent collections, with the heavy use of aertex fabrics in the SS12 offering being a particular highlight.
For AW12, there was again an emphasis placed on fabrications but this time the look was high-shine and super slick. Sweatshirts and bomber jackets came complete with reflective panels of patent leather in black or midnight blue, creating an interesting mix of textures within the garments (also adhering to this season’s fabric blocking trend).
In addition, more technical fabrics were utilised, helping to create futuristic padded outerwear in a silver and black colour palette as well as hooded jackets designed to brave the elements of the city. High fashion sportswear influences at their very best:
The undisputed King of sports luxe; Alexander Wang’s menswear collections are less high profile than his womenswear, but they provide simple and effective pieces for effortless city chic dressing.
His AW12 collection featured tonal monochrome sportswear pieces with flashes of cerulean and a running theme of geometric print. Sweatshirts and bomber jackets are dressed up with smart trousers and luxe leather accessories, whilst baseball caps and backpacks complete the look (all black, of course).
As at Calvin Klein, Wang has played with fabrication as well as cut, showing nylon trousers teamed with deconstructed blazers as well as padded bomber jackets in teal and camel with matching trousers and accessories:
Christopher Shannon has, over the years, managed to develop a signature style within each of his sportswear inspired collections – his AW12 showing was no different.
Largely monochrome, Shannon’s use of prints, from large oversized checks to graphic text and images, gave the collection a distinct 90s feel. Raglan-sleeved sweatshirts and bomber jackets with contrasting leather details were worn with loose-fitting trousers, and trainers completed the sports-inspired look.
The velvet panelled bomber jacket worn with charcoal sweat pants sums up this collection perfectly – sportswear meets streetwear, with a distinct London edge:
To help you achieve your own sports inspired look this AW12, I am going to be break down three key pieces you should consider adding to your wardrobe.
I will also be detailing the type of styles you should be looking for, how the trend has evolved from this past spring/summer and creating a couple of outfits influenced by the high fashion collections showcased above.
Whilst the sportswear trend may have carried on from last season, some tweaks need to made to bring your wardrobe from spring/summer to autumn/winter. As I write this, the weather has taken a particularly cold turn, so I would place the most importance on updating your outerwear pieces first.
On that note, while jackets may not offer the full protection from the elements that a true overcoat would, with proper layering and careful consideration the humble bomber jacket ticks all the right boxes. The bomber is one of the key jacket silhouettes for the season, with designers from Christopher Shannon to Kenzo championing this style.
When I state ‘bomber’, I mean any short, cropped jacket (usually identified with ribbed cuffs and waist hem) – so baseball jackets, leather bomber jackets, cotton blousons and the like are all fair game. It is the silhouette and cut of the jacket that provides the sports inspired aesthetic, so you just need to find the right type that fits in with your personal style and existing wardrobe.
A clean and fuss-free bomber in a timeless colour such as black, brown or navy is a staple every man should own, and one that can be dressed up or down with ease. Whether you opt for a more affordable cotton version or a premium leather jacket is up to you and your budget, but either way this is a piece that will transcend through seasons and become a great all year round option.
For those of you looking for something different, this season there have been some excellent printed options that will help keep you right on trend through to SS13. If you are looking to make more of a subtle statement, try contrasting sleeved versions (whether the contrast is created by pattern or fabric) – these will help you stand out from the crowd without compromising your current refined style.
Taking inspiration from Alexander Wang, try dressing up the bomber jacket. Here we opt for a statement bomber with contrasting leather sleeves, as it gives the whole outfit a slightly more refined feel. Pair with wool trousers for a true clash of styles and match with a time tested smart-casual combination; the Oxford shirt and crew neck jumper. (The jumper could be switched out for a sweatshirt should you want to dress down further.)
Finish the look off with sturdy leather boots ala Wang – white vibram soles are perfect for giving off a sports vibe and will also help you tackle any weather winter throws at you. For those wanting (or needing) to accessorise, refined leather gloves make the perfect addition and add a subtle touch of class:
Another must have piece for the season, the humble sweatshirt has seen a massive resurgence in popularity after being pushed by designers and the high street alike. No longer only reserved for streetwear aficionados, sweats have been championed by the likes of Raf Simons, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.
Styling wise, as with bomber jackets, there are two options available; simple or statement. A plain raglan-sleeved sweatshirt in grey marl or navy will add a casual yet stylish twist to a stripped back outfit. Not only that, they have become a contemporary wardrobe staple – so opting for one in a timeless colour will allow you to mix and match it effortlessly with other pieces in your capsule collection.
Alternatively, you can choose a more directional sweat for that high end finish. From ombre to slogans, some of the most recognisable styles this season come under this category. Acne’s instantly iconic ‘Love’ (shown below) and ‘Peace’ sweaters get my personal vote, and have been featured prominently both on TV and in the fashion press.
This season it is all about making a statement with your sweatshirt. As previously mentioned, Calvin Klein utilised sweatshirts with contrast sleeves as the top layer in many of their outfits, but we want something altogether more wearable.
Enter the slogan sweat. The aforementioned Acne sweaters are a perfect example, but there is one brand who seems to have mastered the art of the ‘slogan’ piece (I never thought I would say that!) – Brooklyn We Go Hard. Offering a variety of coloured and monochrome versions of their signature ‘Parle Francais’ sweatshirt, your final choice will be determined by personal preference and what works with your skin tone and existing wardrobe.
Here we have picked the burgundy version (we could just as easily opted for yellow), not only because it is a key trend colour for AW12, but it is also extremely versatile. Pair it with trusty indigo jeans and a pair of simple leather trainers to complete your sports inspired base.
Finish with your autumn/winter coat of choice – here we have used an on trend parka with faux fur hood to add a tactile element. This allows your top half to become the statement/focal point whilst the bottom half anchors the look:
Whilst trainers and sneakers are by no means a newcomer to the clothing market, in recent seasons certain brands and styles have managed to cross over into high fashion’s consciousness. Fashion editors and stylists have been increasingly willing to ditch their smart shoes in favour of a trainer, and the look is no longer seen as a dressed-down statement.
In my opinion the big three brands to focus on are Nike, Saucony and New Balance – if you are at all stuck, stick to one of these to ensure you will get props for your fashion choices as well as their ‘cool’ factor.
In terms of silhouettes, running styles have become increasingly popular – such as Nike’s Free Run and Saucony’s Grid models. If wild colourways are a deal breaker for you and your personal style, be sure to check out Nike’s I.D. service where you can customise your perfect pair from start to finish.
For those looking for something a little more ‘grown up’, play it safe with a classic New Balance trainer in concrete grey or navy and always opt for premium materials such as suede or leather – this will ensure that it doesn’t look like you have ditched your shoes to get the tube home, and you will be able to dress them up or down accordingly.
The aforementioned three brands will always serve you well, but for those looking for something a little more individual; try the slightly more underground brands such as Common Projects, Veja and the like.
As any man of the cloth knows, you should always construct your outfits from the ground up. And this is exactly what we have done with this look. First, we pick a statement pair of trainers, as we want them to become a focal point of the outfit, rather than an afterthought. By building the outfit around your choice, it will ensure they blend in seamlessly, rather than appearing incongruent.
Here we have picked a pair of purple suede New Balance running trainers, which although might seem excessive at first, can easily be worked into a variety of outfits if you tone down everything else. Pair these with your trusty beige chinos (or seasonally appropriate cords) and finish with a complementary piece of technical outerwear, such as a navy running jacket.
These three pieces make up the majority of the look, so what you layer underneath the jacket is purely personal preference. T-shirts, polos, knitwear, sweatshirts and even shirts are all in play, which makes this a solid base for casual days:
So there you have it, sportswear is one of the easiest trends to embrace this season, with minimal extra purchases necessary.
Whether you go for simple and stylish or more directional, there are plenty of options available and, thanks to certain designers, integrating sportswear pieces into your wardrobe this AW12 is a genuine fashion statement rather than a dressed down day.