Browse all

An illustrated anthology of the tracksuit in streetwear

From futurism to present, everything you need to know

An illustrated anthology of the tracksuit in streetwear From futurism to present, everything you need to know

The tracksuit as we know it did not exist until the second half of the last century. Pure Italian pride the suit was launched by the Italian Futurist movement, invented in 1919 by two Florentine becoming herald of subversive values, currently part of the heritage of the Pitti Palace collection. Its innovative line provided for a single piece of cotton worked with seven buttons, a belt and a few seams; its design is linked to the protest against the bourgeois taste that characterizes the post-World War clothing.
It is precisely from this model that tracksuit's story begins: here's a brief illustrated anthology for decades.


Starting from adidas - a true giant in technical fabrics - its first step in clothing production begins in 1967 when, in collaboration with the German football star Franz Beckenbauer, it develops the first tracksuit model. The idea behind this innovation was the creation of a two-pieces garment of high quality materials to be worn before and / or after sporting activities. Only few years required for turning a good insight into a still significant cultural phenomenon. The introduction of elastic velour - a particular material similar to velvet but made from wool and high quality cotton - was able to make the garment  not only a valuable piece to be worn outside home but also a convenient alternative for interior spaces. With the deep musical immersion of the 70s and the spread of nightclubs, the creation of an environment that can seamlessly combine the casual with the extravagant, the original with the comfortable, the tracksuit was born. It is this new  mentality that has made possible the dissemination and understanding of the "tracksuit" phenomenon.
It’s now that the tracksuit makes its first appearance on the big screen with the film Game of Death (1973), where Bruce Lee shows off the now popular yellow suit with black stripes, a tribute to the first adidas model of the 1964.

While the 70s saw the flowering of the athletic casual it’s only in the next decade that the true combination of fitness and pop culture can be witnessed - due to the development of the so called mainstream culture. New futuristic fabrics such as Gore-Tex and Sympatex allowed mass production of sportswear as if were still not seen, leading to the creation of "shell suit" ( "the suit-monster" ed.) the real cultural phenomenon of the ‘80s - comparable for importance just to the launch of the first Air Max (Nike, 1987) - and today universally recognized as the worst fashion items in history.
The thriving hip-hop scene of this decade has also led to the growth of real subcultures like the world of breakdance and the hip hop scene, motivating the fashion industry to create garments not only aesthetically complex but sufficiently thin to allow free movement and full transpiration  in contrast to the purely thermal function of decades of previous suits (with triacetate and polyester instead of cotton wool and place). The street revolution takes place in the coloring and fantasies of the items: monochromatism no more, please gimme some fashion extravaganza!

In the 90's the link between sportswear and music is strengthened and the sportswear is ennobled by becoming a suitable item for every occasion
- especially formal ones - and an understatement for any dancer and treadmills’ fanatic. The European rave scene, the hip-hop world and the pop-rock environment set forth the birth of a new trend, mixing or the top or the bottom of the tracksuit with designer clothes and it’s now that the first designers begin to introduce the tracksuit in their collections and on runaways as cult garment.

Thanks to the shots of the paparazzi the tracksuit shine pride on magazines’ covers showing a new wave of celebrities immortalized in soft velor signed Juicy Couture - personal worst fashion item in history. Nothing more to declare:

The suit is now an unique phenomenon: big brands introduce it in their parade as prominent item, celebrities wear them in all occasions -  both in private life and in public appearances -  and giants of sportswear not only collaborate with avant-garde names but break through the glass ceiling that had always separated casual wear and high fashion. The street style culture blazes like a fire in the hearts and in the closets of every Millenial consecrating it-brands such as Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Stüssy, Stone Island in the fashion Olympus2016 has definitively been the year of the tracksuit, where not only incredible collaborations  took place- as Fenty x Puma or adidas x Kolor - but both novices of the haute fashion as Gvasalia with VETEMENT and timeless classics such asGucci - under the direction of Alessandro Michele - have proudly produced sportswear.

Please please don’t let it stop.