The American Style: Emergence Of Sports Wear In The Twentieth Century

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One of the very first sports wear labels to emerge, originally specialising in women’s gym clothes in Australia, started in the eighteen seventies. The label started out at first as a tailoring business in a town on the Isle of Wight in the year eighteen fifty five, but released its first line of women’s sports wear in the eighteen seventies. This was popular to such an extent that it soon became the main focus of the business. Many expensive couture designers at the same time would have sports wear lines, as it was typically only the wealthy and leisured classes that could afford specific clothing for sport and recreation to begin with. It was in the United States of America in the nineteen thirties that sports wear as a comfortable, practical, and accessible clothing option for exercise and playing sports began to emerge, with sporty, relaxed, ready to wear sports fashions and gym clothing for women emerging as the first distinctly American style of clothing. In the nineteen thirties and forties, it was an increasingly popular emergent fashion choice in the United States of America. 

Sports wear begun to spread outside of the United States of America in the late nineteen forties and early nineteen fifties. At first, French fashion houses attempted to produce ready to wear sports wear, but these designs were still primarily aimed at the high end of the market and lacked the democratic appeal and ethos of the successful American sports wear labels. Rather, it was the Italian fashion industry that took the lead in the production of women’s and men’s fitness clothing outside of the United States of America. The Italian labels were able to effortlessly combine comfort and casual chic for a sophisticated yet relaxed look. Since the late nineteen seventies, the distinction has become increasingly unclear between sports wear intended for use as a casual outfit, and active wear intended solely for use during exercise. This has been in equal parts due to an advance in the materials available, and design techniques used in the manufacture of sports wear.
While most American fashion in the early twentieth century was a pastiche of trends imported from France, sports wear was perhaps the first truly original home grown fashion development in the United States of America. At first, sports wear was rather loosely defined as including most interchangeable separates. With regards to sports wear as active wear intended for gym and exercise use, the continued development of textiles science has served as an important impetus for the increased accessibility and popularity of active wear. For obvious reasons, breathable and moisture wicking fabrics are particularly useful materials for use in active wear, as they will provide increased comfort to the wearer and assist in wicking the sweat produced by heavy exertion away from the skin.

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