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New Board on Europeana Fashion Pinboard: Sportswear!

The new board now on Europeana Fashion’s Pinterest features the sportswear creations in Europeana Fashion’s collection!

In the twenty-first century, the word “sportswear” describes a broad category of garments developed for sporting activities. The history of sportswear, however, dates back to the 18th century, in which the hunt, horse riding and shooting were considered the main sports and were played by the aristocracy and by privileged people in the countryside. To take part to these activities, men wore more comfortable suits than those worn in the cities. These suits quickly became fashionable through the young gentlemen too, such as the redingote, which later become a fashionable dress for both men and women.

Riding habit shirt of linen, England, ca. 1750. Collection Victoria and Albert Museum, all rights reserved.

The popularity of sportswear grew in the early 20th century, a period in which sports were democratized and mass production and technical innovations made the ready-to-wear sportswear affordable to everyone. Migrants from Europe arrived in the States bringing their own sports, and American Clubs influenced fashion with the introduction of new practical garments for sports.

Tennis ensemble by Nordiska Kompaniet, 1928. Collection Nordiska Museet, CC-BY-NC-ND.

But it was only after World War I that sportswear became a fashionable choice also for women. In 1922 Jean Patou introduced sportswear in high fashion, as did Elsa Schiaparelli, when she designed her light sweaters with trompe l’oeil bows. Cinema helped to promote sportswear styles, and many female celebrities – not only actress, but also many athletes – wore their sportswear attires in public occasions or posed with it in magazines.

"Capsula" with the print "Ibis", designed by Emilio Pucci, 1986. Collection Pucci Archive, all rights reserved.

In the 1930s, many American designers, like Bonnie Cashin, Tina Leser, Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, Clare Potter, and Emily Wilkens turned into sportswear and contributed to shape an “American Look”, opposed to the French Couture. The “American look” was characterized by practical and democratic clothes and it became typical of American fashion through the 1990s.

Visit our Pinterest board to some of the most interesting example of our sportswear collection, and browse Europeana Fashion Theme area to see more unique sportswear records!

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