There’s no question that sweat suit for men and women has become a cultural icon in its own right. From Juicy Couture velours of the TMZ era to the symbolized three stripes OG tracksuits by Adidas’, sweat suit is not just adapted through the decades, but incorporates sportswear’s integration into fashion—well before the menswear lexicon got hit by cozy boy and athleisure.
The 60’s and Sweat Suits
The ’60s, when the mid-century prosperity bloomed and opened way to “space-age” technology, that time sweat suit was born. A sweat suit is a combination of clothing consisting of two pieces: a trouser and a jacket usually with front zipper. It was originally designed for use in sports, mainly for athletes to wear over competition clothing such as racing shirt and shorts or a swimsuit and to take off before a game. In current times, it has become commonly worn in other contexts. Synthetic nylon fabrics combination, early iterations liked these helped to set up the modern-day tracksuit or sweat suit its grounds, names like Adidas came up with their earlier designs as stripes featured on them. Tracksuit was one of the earliest applications of synthetic fibers in sportswear. Sweatshirt began life as a football jersey. Sneakers as we know them today are an evolution of early basketball and tennis shoes. The polo shirt was designed by Mr. René Lacoste to be dressed not on the polo field, but on the tennis court. So much of the modern man’s wardrobe finds its roots in the world of sport, and the tracksuit – unsurprisingly, given the name – is no exception. But how did this zippered nylon jacket and matching trousers make the leap from track to the street, and who were the style setters from music, film, and TV who promoted it along?
The Origin of Sweat Suit
The name “tracksuit” an arose because, quite literally, back in 1968 it was a suit designed to be worn on the track. Obvious, right? Back then it was the sole preserve of athletes such as American sprinters Messrs John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Only back then tracksuits were almost exclusively worn before or after sports. But it was in the ’70s when tracksuits got its jumpstart beginning to blend with the fashion world.
Sweat Suits Enter to Jogging & Climbing
For a few reasons, the ’70s are when the tracksuit became a non-athletic essential. Practically speaking of jogging and mountain climbing; the tracksuit owes much for its modern-day significance to both of them. With jogging’s notoriety rising in the 1970s, including the interest in personal health fitness, sweat suits began to be treated as the go-to gear for the recreational athlete. Another athletic trend of that era—mountain climbing—sparked brands like Patagonia to innovate with fabrics that could handle the activity. The very same fabrics that were designed to protect outdoorsmen were inevitably finding new life when applied to sweat suits, and tops.
On The Verge of Becoming Cultural Phenomenon
But this is also the decade when sweat suit enhanced as culturally important as they remained athletically. It wasn’t long before the sweat suit was vaulted into popular culture, and TV provided the springboard. Add in the rise of kung-Fu films and athletic actors like Mr. Bruce Lee sported a red number in the cult drama, Longstreet, a prelude to the famous yellow one he wore in the 1978 film Game Of Death. Warming stretch cloth’s Introduction not only just made it a comfortable piece to wear while roaming outside, but also something that went just as well when worn around the house. By the ’70s deep dive into disco music, a culture was shaped by the genre that would combine the casual and the gaudy. It’s a mentality that helped make jumpsuits—and by extension, sweat suit—a far more common sight. While casual athletics were thriving in the ’70s, the fitness craze that gripped the 1980’s combined fitness and popular culture like never before, making the tracksuit more mainstream. Synthetic fabrics like Gore-Tex and Sympatex which are recently developed made tracksuits even more functional—keeping the wearer not just warming up awhile, but also being comfortable during athletic activity. Ultimately, “shell suits”; basically the sweat suit that we think of today would make its way with the focus on these early era fabrics technology. While the ’60s and ’70s tracksuit’s would usually place nearby to an insulating sweat suit, the shell suit consisted of thinner nylon layers, allowing wearers to experience an ancestor to the “wicking” fabrics we see in modern-day Under Armor. Needless to say, jazzercise classes were never the same. In the mid-1980s, the influential fashion stylings of Messrs Jam Master Jay, Darryl McDaniels, and Joseph Simmons – aka Run-DMC, instigated a reinterpretation of sweat suits from athletic apparel to prestige streetwear.
Through the ’90s, both as an on-field athletic staple, as well as a hip-hop symbol the sweat suit itself was entrenched. With 1992’s and 1996’s significant Olympic Games, notably the “Dream Team,” tracksuits of ’92’s Barcelona basketball team —now incorporated in vivid graphic designs—moved far from extinct. While earlier decades concentrated on a slimmer fit, these renditions were cut with a relaxed contour, making them perfect for pre and post-game attire, but also excellent for lounging around.