It’s no secret that menswear has been heavily influenced by sporting activities this season, with a lot of ideas and concepts borrowed from the world of sport. The timing of these athletic-style influences on the fashion world couldn’t be more apt, with our own fair city of London hosting the 2012 Olympics within the next few months.
It is clear to see that the collaboration between fashion and the world of sport is happening on several multi-faceted levels. Celebrity sports stars are used to front high fashion campaigns – we have Jenson Button as the face of Hugo Boss, Roger Federer as a representative for Rolex and even retired footballer Eric Cantona fronting the recent The Kooples Sport collection. David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal have all recently stripped off for the prestigious Armani underwear campaigns.
Taking a further step into the fashion world, some sportsmen have even collaborated with designers to help create their own collections. Tennis player Andy Roddick collaborated with Lacoste last year to release his summer 2011 Lacoste collection, and more recently David Beckham himself collaborated with high street retailer H&M to design his first Bodywear collection for the brand.
Going back to the 2012 Olympics; the GB kit has been designed and created by none other than lauded British fashion designer, Stella McCartney, which truly cements the union of fashion and sport. With the resurgence of hi-tops as the go-to casual footwear of choice, and functional waterproof fabrics, sports jackets and windbreakers inundating the catwalks – the marriage between high fashion and sportswear has never been more apparent.
It seems that sportswear collections are also making a bigger impact at recent Fashion Weeks and on the high fashion plane. The Adidas Y-3 brand, under the leadership of Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, has been hugely successful since 2003 due to their unique, innovative designs with an evident sports/functional influence.
This season, fashion designers have placed a heavy emphasis on incorporating aspects of sportswear into their collections – from sports-inspired prints, to the use of lycra and nylon-based fabrics, and even marrying sharp tailoring with more casual sportswear elements. The SS12 shows demonstrated hooded sports windbreakers thrown over sharp tailored blazers, wetsuit-style neoprene tops and trainers paired with sleek suits.
Vivienne Westwood was clearly influenced by the Olympics, featuring sweatshirts and tees printed with medals, laurels and ancient Greek athletes. These were then paired with tracksuit bottoms and baggy shorts. Several fashion houses such as Versace, Dries Van Noten and YSL showcased sports-inspired blouson-style track jackets as part of their collections, whilst the American varsity jacket retained its continual popular influence in collections like that from The Duffer of St. George:
Collections from Marc Jacobs, Maison Martin Margiela and Lacoste showed a preference for clean, tailored suits paired with hi-tops and trainers rather than dress shoes; at the Fashion East show at London Fashion Week, Mr. Start continued this trend, utilising trainers and pumps with soft tailoring; injecting a casual, sportswear influence.
Some designers even went a step further by focusing on a single type of sporting activity. In Milan, the Prada show had a clear golf influence with models wearing kiltie-fringed, studded golf shoes, studded golf bags and even carrying Prada-branded golf clubs.
One of the most impactful shows for me was the Mugler SS12 show, which was stylishly dramatic and contained a plethora of sports influences. The collection was called ‘The Brothers of Arcadia’ and initial styling echoed ancient Greco-Roman influences with metal arm and chest plates, helmets and neck pieces creating a futuristic, gladiatorial inspired look – commemorating the oldest of blood sports.
The collection continued with translucent anoraks and parkas, cycling shorts, lycra pieces reminiscent of wetsuits, speedo-style swimwear pieces and varsity/blouson jackets, all of which indicates a heavy sports influence.
The influence of sportswear and athletic activities on current fashion collections has helped to blur the line between formal wear and casual wear. This has in turn helped to create a flavour of sophisticated casualness in current menswear trends, which are more suitable for the men of today. It has also produced looks that are much more wearable than traditional catwalk collections – which can often be sensational and over-the-top rather than realistically wearable for the modern man.
In my opinion, this ideal is epitomised by the SS12 collection from Moncler Gamme Bleu, which has a clear sports influence yet remains distinctly wearable and is my personal favourite from the entire range of catwalk shows:
Creative Director Thom Browne took inspiration from the sport of fencing for this show, and it was actually held in a real fencing club which accentuated the sports theme.
The collection is interesting as it eschews the current trend for pattern and colour; the majority of the collection appears in monochrome tones of white, black, grey and navy blue which only adds to the clean lines and sleek cuts. The sports influence is also vividly apparent in the use of accessories, with headbands, sweatbands, shin pads and cod pieces all making an appearance.
Two of my favourite pieces from the collection are the soft grey hooded anorak, and the cropped, varsity-style baseball jacket in the black and white mesh pattern with elasticated white cuffs and waistband. These two pieces stand out, not because they are groundbreaking in their design or fabrication, but because they are simple, unfussy and easily wearable.
The world of sport is not only having an influence on high fashion. As we should know by now, the high street will soon follow and adapt high fashion themes and trends into wearable pieces for the every day male. Below you can see an influx of relaxed, athletic type pieces in the latest campaign images from ALL your favourite high street stores – the looks below come from Topman, Urban Outfitters, Zara, H&M and even Primark:
Without wanting to spoil tomorrow’s follow up to this article – where we will be breaking down the key sports inspired pieces that should be in your wardrobe this spring/summer – here is a selection of garments and accessories that all have roots within the world of sports:
It seems the influence of sports and athletic activities on recent menswear collections has had a far-reaching effect – both on the designer plane and on the high street. In modern society, successful sportsmen and women are often treated as celebrities, leading to designers and high street brands capitalising on this through endorsement of their brand and products.
I think it is clear to see that the influence of the world of sport on current fashion trends has blurred the lines between formal and casual wear, helping to create a more sophisticated casual look that appeals to the modern man and can easily be transferred directly from the high fashion catwalk to wardrobe. But what do you think?
Let us know in the comments below, and tomorrow we will be back with our breakdown of the key sportswear inspired pieces you should have in your wardrobe this year.
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