For a while (and still so), a large portion of my wardrobe consisted of athletic wear. But lo and behold, for a while athletic wear was really cool? Especially Adidas track pants?
The first modern tracksuit (think monochromatic pants and jacket) can be traced back to Adidas. The label’s first step into the apparel industry was the tracksuit done in collaboration with a German soccer star Franz Beckenbauer in 1967. At this point, tracksuits were worn only by athletes.
However, by 1972, the tracksuit entered popular culture through TV. Bruce Lee wore a red one in the drama Longstreet, and more famously, a yellow one in the 1978 film Game of Death. The tracksuit now could be considered an outfit on its own, and in terms of design, much tailored down from the original Adidas release.
Then we have the fitness craze of the 80’s where newly developed synthetics made tracksuits even more popular. Think fitness classes and colourful gear everywhere. These synthetic fabrics led to the development of shell suits (modern tracksuits). The growing hip-hop scene also caught on with tracksuits. Tracksuits provided room for movement, and now, tracksuits were no longer single colours, but rather and array of brighter graphics. In the mid-1980s, Run-DMC, a popular hip-hop group help rebrand tracksuits from simply athletics wear to “prestigious streetwear” – the idea that one was wealthy enough to not care about things like getting dressed. In the 90’s more hip-hop artists like Jay-Z and Diddy furthered the image of the tracksuit as “prestigious streetwear.”
Most recently in modern times, the tracksuit is back again and hitting high fashion. Designer Alexander Wang recently collaborated with Adidas in spring 2017 bringing the tracksuit into higher end fashion. Perhaps this is what good design is all about – combining fashion and street style, with comfort for the masses.