The complicated world of sports fashion trends

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American celebrity culture is built upon the assumption that we love to emulate those who are famous. It should come as no surprise that sports figures experience that same admiration. From tennis skirts to the Jordan shoes that every sneakerhead can’t possibly go without, we often are willing to spend large amounts of money in order to look like our favorite sports star.

Sports fashion isn’t a new phenomenon. In the early 2000s, long basketball shorts became the pants of choice for many young men. Additionally, no fashion follower can forget when Princess Diana wore biker shorts and a sweatshirt through the streets of London sparking a fashion trend that has seemingly cycled through the minds of influencers and everyday fashion connoisseurs not once but twice. One of the biggest reasons that today more than ever we see not just one sports fashion trend, but a multitude, is that as a society we have become more and more enamored with the idea of athleisure. Because we are always searching for the most comfortable items of clothing to wear, it makes sense that Americans look more towards athletes than ever before.

There are plenty of celebrities who typically start fashion trends and can give you great recommendations for the most popular jeans, dresses, or skirts but young women today don’t want uncomfortable, stiff, or professional clothing recommendations — they want to know what’s the most acceptable leggings or sweatpants or shorts or dry fit T-shirts to wear on the markets. Of course, there’s the added layer to this desire to buy our favorite looks, given that many sports stars have sponsorships. 

Tennis great Serena Williams, for example, was known for showing up to major tournaments such as Wimbledon in elaborate one-of-a-kind outfits based typically on her sponsor Nike. Nike would then re-create those looks in a more commercial way and have them up on the shelves within the month so that Serena Williams’s adoring fans were able to essentially copy her looks in their everyday lives.

While this seems like harmless fun and a good way to show your support for your favorite player it also demonstrates the massive influence that sports figures have on the wallets of American society. Athletes not only earn money from their sponsorships but they earn the ability to shape how others see fashion and how others spend their money. Big brands like Nike made offer the best scholarships but they also have sourcing practices that shouldn’t be uplifted by our most influential figures. With the emergence of fast fashion brands, it is easier than ever before for people to very quickly get sports fashions that they deem popular. When one looks up white tennis skirts on Amazon, for example, you get 238 results that can be narrowed by price, brand, and style and all delivered within 48 hours.

The more we see sports fashion become the norm the more we need to consider where we are getting those items and what impact beyond just following trends where we are creating with our purchases.

 

hering2@stolaf.edu

 

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