16 August 2012

ATurbulent Love Affair with Sportswear

Sportswear has never just been limited to sport. Suits are often swapped for tracksuits after a long day at work and tight jeans are sometimes swapped for sportswear just before sitting down for Sunday dinner. We dance round our living rooms in our tracksuits with our brand new Vax cleaners and dig them out of our wardrobes to do the gardening.

Given a bad name by characters like Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard in her offensive bright pink tracksuit top and blue bottoms, we tend to avoid actually leaving the house in sportswear, lest we run into a friend or colleague resulting in an embarrassing display of our lazy-wear.

However, with the arrival of the London 2012 Olympics, sport is on everyone’s minds. This is, of course, reflected in fashion: dressing down is on the up and it seems sportswear will be back in a big way. Now, more than ever before, big fashion names are collaborating with sportswear brands: Stella McCartney has designed Team GB’s London 2012 kit, for instance.

Adidas, the official sportswear of the London Olympics and the British team, has recruited pop star Katy Perry to be the new face of their sportswear range. The U.S. pop queen who bares her midriff as she dances with a troupe of female backing dancers, proves that sportswear can be sexy. In addition, British TV presenter and model Alexa Chung currently stars in Italian trainer brand Superga’s summer campaign.

Many designers’ collections are heavily influenced by sport, a trend that looks set to continue as the latest rounds of collections appear. Sportswear has officially been swiped from the running track and relocated to the catwalk, which renders former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham’s confession that she loves fashion too much to wear a tracksuit somewhat meaningless.

If sportswear is becoming a more acceptable form of attire, should employers allow tracksuits in the workplace? ‘Casual Fridays’ are growing in popularity as employers recognise the benefits they can bring to the business. Giving employees a day to express their individuality is an effective motivator and does not cost employers a penny.

In turn, employees feel more appreciated and more relaxed. This not only improves employee morale but also increases worker productivity – which typically wanes towards the end of the week.

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