Olympics 2016: Why Sporting Style is Reaching Beyond Rio

Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Pool Photo via AP via Newscred

by Stephen Doig, The Daily Telegraph, August 5, 2016

Even if your wardrobe hasn’t quite stretched – in the most literal sense of the word – to the Stella McCartney-designed lycra of that make up the uniforms of Team GB for this year’s Olympics in Rio as it kicks off this weekend, you’d be hard pressed not to notice the general sportification of men’s wardrobes. Phrases like “athleisurewear” and “sports luxe” have abounded for a while now, and what that translates to – beyond the tricky catwalk styling that might pair a blazer with a pair of jogging bottoms (fine for down the park on a Saturday morning, less so in your in your PDR) – is a sense of vim and informality in men’s style.

Fashion theorists place this trend within the brackets of “recession dressing”. Why? Because when the chips – or more realistically, the stock and the markets – are down, men have statistically been proven to hit the grooming counters and the gym in an attempt to edge ahead in the workplace and prove one’s dynamism, strength and vitality.

This, naturally, has trickled into what we wear, with sporty accents suddenly playing a role in uniforms that were hitherto confined to formal territory – blazers rendered in soft fit jersey, polo necks worn with formal jackets, intricately crafted, entirely elegant trainers worn with suits, the footwear itself as artfully created as any Jermyn St-made Oxford.

It’s a trend that has dominated for several “seasons” now (what real people would term “a couple of years”), and one that’s rather refreshing – at the last round of men’s fashion shows, I could count the number of ties on one hand, as tailoring eases a touch to meet these new sporting demands. Suddenly the full kit and caboodle of pocket square, tie and tie pin, architectural tailoring seems a tad studied. 

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This has meant that functional sportswear brands have had to raise their game. Long established Canadian sports label Lululemon, having launched two years ago in London, applies a design-led aesthetic to its yoga and running attire. What was a niche market for well-made yoga clothes when it began reached new heights this year when it reported a 20% rise in sales. Likewise running outfitter  Iffley Road – stocked through Mr Porter’s dedicated sports site Mr Sporter, launched last year – marries considered fabrication with the demands of a life spend pounding the pavements.

What once was painfully functional and polarised from any notion of style is now one and the same. You might not be competing in the  Decathlon, but there’s no reason you can’t look suitably fine-tuned as you break a sweat this weekend.


This article was written by Stephen Doig from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.