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A brief history of sporty wear

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When we talk about sportswear, we're usually referring to casual separates born in the U.S. but now adopted around the world as everyday fashion. Activewear is the term for items worn for sports activities, but the two are inextricably linked. Here is a short history of sporty wear.

 

1920s: Coco Chanel popularizes the tan and uses easy jersey for women's suits.

1930s-1950s: American designer Claire McCardell pioneers comfortable, practical clothing, including overalls, bandanas, superhero costumes, tent dresses and loincloth-like beachwear.

1946: Louis Reard patents a design for the bikini.

1951: The Lacoste Polo shirt hits the U.S. from France.

1959: DuPont trademarks Lycra, a stretch fibre invented by DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers. This ushers in an era of comfort in clothing and technical fibre innovation. The synthetic fibre, a polyurethane-polyurea copolymer, is also known as spandex or elastane and is used in perhaps most of the clothes we wear, blended with denim in jeans, cotton in shirt and T-shirts, and in recent years with wool and silk.

1969: Women's Wear Daily dubs shorts worn under a split midi skirt "hot pants."

1977: By the time John Travolta strutted his stuff in Saturday Night Fever, disco fever was fuelling the trend to stretch-fabric dance wear such as leotards and hot pants.

1980s: The aerobics craze ushers in the era of the body beautiful -- and the clothes to show it off. Jane Fonda in her workout video and Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect embody the ideal.

1985: Nike inaugurates the Air Jordan.

1998: Lululemon is founded in Vancouver; two years later, it opens its first store.

2000s: Yoga becomes hot, and yoga pants become a sport and fashion staple.

2011: Balenciaga introduces Arena high-top sneaker.

2012: Alexander Wang, the New York designer known for cool street wear, is named creative director of the storied house of Balenciaga.

2013: Isabel Marant's wedge sneakers are widely knocked off. Chanel models in ball gowns and tweed suits sport sparkling runners in what might be a first for haute couture.

2014: Sports-inspired clothing is a top trend for spring. Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld again puts models in sneakers for the fall season.

 

-- Compiled by Eva Friede; Sources: California Fashion (Abrams); Fashion, A Crash Course (Raincoast Books); Voguepedia

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 D13

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