Urban Athletic: The Evolution Of Sporty Street Wear

It’s no secret that sportswear is big news in menswear these days, with everyone seemingly bandying around the term ‘sports luxe’ with wild abandon.

Although this movement has been prevalent for more than a few successive seasons, like all men’s trends it has evolved at a steady pace, with fresh takes on the look emerging with each new wave of collections.

If 2012 was all about athletic silhouettes, and summer 2014 the season of the surfer, AW14’s mix of Parisian skater, Ivy League and urban commuter is set to see the trend take on another dimension.

This easy to master look is about pulling off a sleek and sporty profile, by cleverly mixing and matching more tailored pieces with casual attire.

In this piece, we explore the key components to get you set for AW14’s sporty street wear obsession…

The Sports Jacket

The bomber jacket has been the must-own outerwear silhouette for several seasons now, and its influence is yet to wane. With its origins stemming from the apparel of wartime pilots, this cover-up comes supplied with instant hero status.

Designers have been quick to jump on the bomber bandwagon, with a huge array of styles available to choose from. Fabrications and finishes are focal points, with clean-cut wool, luxe leather, heavyweight suede and statement print designs all part of today’s bomber mix.

Contrast fabric combinations are a smart way to approach the look. A wool-bodied bomber with neoprene or leather sleeves references contemporary street wear trends, with Topman and Jigsaw, in particular, stocking some great examples for AW14.

The varsity jacket is another excellent choice that has seen a marked return to the style consciousness – its unique blend of preppy cool and vintage Americana make it ideal for tapping into classic collegiate-inspired dressing. Pair with slim-cut chinos and oxblood penny loafers for a modern take on the traditional Ivy League aesthetic.

Lightweight technical jackets for gents on the go illustrate the demands of modern life, where the lines between sportswear and casual wear blur. Garments are now designed to serve a multifaceted role – Levi’s Commuter range is an excellent example of this genre and an intelligent investment for the urban cyclist.

Nineties and vintage-era styling has also had a significant impact on menswear, and the popularity of the blouson is a testament to this. Similar in shape to the bomber, the blouson features a looser cut around the torso, with a drawn-in waistband to give the wearer a more oversized, shirt-like silhouette. Try pairing yours with lean-fitting leg wear to balance the volume.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Sports Jackets & Bombers Street Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

next aw14gant ss14h&m summer 2014the kooples sport aw14apc ss15zara september 2014ccc ss14bally ss15burton aw14cos aw14house of fraser aw14saturdays surf nyc ss15he by mango aw14all saints august 2014
Current Styles
  • Jigsaw Leather Sleeved Wool BomberJigsaw Leather Sleeved Wool Bomber
  • Farah Vintage Heather Macauley Wool Coat In greyFarah Vintage Heather Macauley Wool Coat In grey
  • Topman Navy Neoprene Bomber JacketTopman Navy Neoprene Bomber Jacket
  • Jack & Jones Lightweight Nylon JacketJack & Jones Lightweight Nylon Jacket
  • Carhartt Car-lux Bomber JacketCarhartt Car-lux Bomber Jacket
  • He By Mango Contrast Sleeve Bomber JacketHe By Mango Contrast Sleeve Bomber Jacket
  • He By Mango Nylon Bomber JacketHe By Mango Nylon Bomber Jacket
  • He By Mango Casual Technical JacketHe By Mango Casual Technical Jacket
  • Topman Lac Quilt Coach Jacket Topman Lac Quilt Coach Jacket
  • Reiss Hardcourt Short Bomber Jacket NavyReiss Hardcourt Short Bomber Jacket Navy
  • Jonathan Saunders Quilted Satin Bomber Jacket 214087Jonathan Saunders Quilted Satin Bomber Jacket 214087
  • A.p.c. Kenickie Bomber Jacket 205425A.p.c. Kenickie Bomber Jacket 205425
The Track Pant

The much-derided track pant is no longer seen as a slovenly stay-at-home garment, or the uniform of delinquent youths.

Designers have applied the luxe treatment to joggers this season: cuts have been streamlined, details developed and fabrics enhanced. Cuff detailing and slimmer fits give form and proportion to a traditionally sloppy silhouette, while smarter styles in technical materials or wool/flannel can be dressed up for an on-trend urban look.

Hentsch Man’s AW14 designs are a fine case in point for the evolution of the track pant – their tapered shape and premium Portuguese-milled fabric perfectly capture the essence of contemporary sportswear.

Print treatments can also bring a fresh angle to the look – try a pair of Topman’s floral patterned trousers to tap into the winter blooms trend simultaneously. If flowers aren’t your thing, Tim Coppen’s zip-detailed slacks should hit the mark.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Slimline Joggers and Track Pants Street Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

asos aw14river island studio aw14drykorn aw14calliope aw14banana republic pre fall 2014boohoo aw14h&m aw14j crew september 2014 style guidej crew aw14the kooples sport aw14asos christmas 2014vince aw14
Current Styles
  • Allsaints Wilde SweatpantAllsaints Wilde Sweatpant
  • Suit Stig Joggers In blackSuit Stig Joggers In black
  • He By Mango Multi-pocket Training TrousersHe By Mango Multi-pocket Training Trousers
  • Worland Black Floral Mesh Panel Joggers In blackWorland Black Floral Mesh Panel Joggers In black
  • Topman Jaded Floral Joggers Topman Jaded Floral Joggers
  • Tim Coppens Tapered Cotton-blend TrousersTim Coppens Tapered Cotton-blend Trousers
  • River Island Navy Jogger TrousersRiver Island Navy Jogger Trousers
  • A.p.c. Tapered Jersey SweatpantsA.p.c. Tapered Jersey Sweatpants
The Sweatshirt/Hoodie

Alongside track pants, the sweatshirt has enjoyed a recent image overhaul.

How has this formerly relaxed separate been given a new lease of life? Many designers have harnessed craft techniques and fused the comfort of the sweatshirt with elements traditionally associated with high-end dressing.

Ground-breaking label L’Estrange London was founded on the concept of the ‘luxe hoodie’, with the brand’s signature blend of Liberty Art archive prints, premium materials and contemporary cuts a winning formula for sophisticated casual dressing.

Elsewhere, uber-cool Parisian brand Kenzo, led by the dynamic Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, has seemingly single-handedly brought a fresh contemporary attitude to the garment, with its tongue-in-cheek animal prints and graphic embroidered designs.

On the high street, texture-rich, oversized and retro styles from the likes of Topman, ASOS and River Island have further boosted the humble sweatshirt’s popularity.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Luxe Sweatshirts & Hoodies Street Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

harmony aw14banana republic pre fall 2014banana republic pre fall 2014burton aw14reserved aw14bwgh ss14gant rugger aw14calliope aw14j crew september 2014banana republic pre fall 2014all saints august 2014pull and bear december 2013
Current Styles
  • Topman Charcoal Brush Check Jacquard Slouch SweatshirtTopman Charcoal Brush Check Jacquard Slouch Sweatshirt
  • Universal Works Sweat With Crew NeckUniversal Works Sweat With Crew Neck
  • He By Mango Long Raglan Sleeve SweatshirtHe By Mango Long Raglan Sleeve Sweatshirt
  • The Red PaisleyThe Red Paisley
  • Allsaints Robul SweatshirtAllsaints Robul Sweatshirt
  • Reiss 1971 Flame Hooded Sweatshirt BlackReiss 1971 Flame Hooded Sweatshirt Black
  • Reiss Grant Stitch Detail Sweatshirt Wine BerryReiss Grant Stitch Detail Sweatshirt Wine Berry
  • Polo Ralph Lauren HoodiePolo Ralph Lauren Hoodie
  • Allsaints Lycan Zip HoodieAllsaints Lycan Zip Hoodie
  • Thom Browne Panelled Cotton-jersey SweatshirtThom Browne Panelled Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
  • Kenzo Tiger-embroidered Sweatshirt 207327Kenzo Tiger-embroidered Sweatshirt 207327
  • Our Legacy Cotton-fleece HoodieOur Legacy Cotton-fleece Hoodie
The Fashion Trainer

If anything serves as a barometer for the rise of sporty street wear, it has to be the fashion trainer.

As designers have stepped up their game creating ‘dressier’ models, sports shoes are now acceptable wear in smart city institutions, where they were previously on the dress code blacklist.

Leading sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas did much to kick-start the appetite for the fashion trainer, while New Balance seemed to re-emerge almost overnight as the go-to label for the urban dresser.

At the high-end of the market, the likes of Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo and Lanvin have revived the hi-top while Valentino’s camo trainers earned instant cult status the moment the world caught a glimpse of their studded heels.

Rick Owens and Raf Simons (his collaborations with Adidas) have also earned notoriety and divided opinion with their statement, futuristic creations.

This season’s trainer edit includes a mix of luxe multi-fabric designs, with neon accents, textured finishes and colour-block schemes all key details.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Fashion Trainers Street Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

norse projects aw13harmony aw14primark aw14asos aw14bershka august 2013zara may 2014ami aw13burton ss14primark aw13mango aw14two angle ss14
Current Styles
  • Saucony Shadow 5000 In Grey And blueSaucony Shadow 5000 In Grey And blue
  • New Balance 574 Varsity TrainersNew Balance 574 Varsity Trainers
  • Maison Martin Margiela 22 Mens Red Leather And Neoprene SneakersMaison Martin Margiela 22 Mens Red Leather And Neoprene Sneakers
  • Ami Suede And Mesh Panelled SneakersAmi Suede And Mesh Panelled Sneakers
  • Valentino Camouflage-print Leather And Suede SneakersValentino Camouflage-print Leather And Suede Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals Stan Smith Leather SneakersAdidas Originals Stan Smith Leather Sneakers
  • Nike Air Max Light Wr SneakersNike Air Max Light Wr Sneakers
  • Rick Owens Ramones Treated-leather SneakersRick Owens Ramones Treated-leather Sneakers
  • Givenchy Tyson High Top Leather Sneakers With StarsGivenchy Tyson High Top Leather Sneakers With Stars
  • Jimmy Choo Belgravia Patent And Grained-leather High Top SneakersJimmy Choo Belgravia Patent And Grained-leather High Top Sneakers
  • Balenciaga Arena High-top Leather Trainers 208845Balenciaga Arena High-top Leather Trainers 208845
  • Lanvin Bmx Mid-top Trainers 205585Lanvin Bmx Mid-top Trainers 205585
The Backpack

No bag has made a bigger comeback in recent years than the backpack. Pushed aside in the pre-sports luxe years in favour of messengers and satchels, the practical backpack has returned with a bang.

Gone are the lumpy nylon styles associated with the tech geeks of the 1990s, and in their place we have sleek leather versions, eye-catching colour-block designs and vintage revival rucksacks.

Leather details, hard-working canvas cloths and sporty technical fabrics are all selling points of the modern backpack – brands like Mismo, Zara, Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, COS, Whistles and Herschel have fine examples that prove the point.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's SBackpacks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

brunello cucinelli ss14zara september 2014bleu de chauffe aw14bleu de chauffe aw14topman lux 2013river island studio aw14reiss aw14
Current Styles
  • Reiss Sharkies Contrast Panel Backpack GreyReiss Sharkies Contrast Panel Backpack Grey
  • Cos Leather And Mesh BackpackCos Leather And Mesh Backpack
  • Reiss Raza Leather Backpack BlackReiss Raza Leather Backpack Black
  • Zara Buckled Leather BackpackZara Buckled Leather Backpack
  • Herschel Little America Backpack rustHerschel Little America Backpack rust
  • Whistles Canvas And Leather BackpackWhistles Canvas And Leather Backpack
  • Mismo Canvas And Leather BackpackMismo Canvas And Leather Backpack
  • Want Les Essentiels De La Vie Kastrup Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas BackpackWant Les Essentiels De La Vie Kastrup Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas Backpack
  • Kin By John Lewis Nylon Twill Roll Top Bag navyKin By John Lewis Nylon Twill Roll Top Bag navy
Final Word

The sports luxe trend is one that’s set to stick around for some time because it’s a style of dress that suits the way we live now. As the pace of life quickens, we require garments with multi–faceted qualities: comfortable enough to wear on the morning commute, yet still stylish enough for after-hours engagements.

When executed effectively, today’s urban street wear aesthetic feels inherently modern and fit for purpose.

But what do you think – are you a fan of relaxed yet refined sportswear? Or does it simply make it easier for you to stand out from the crowd in your tailoring?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…