Sportsmen (Barton, 2015). Sportswear is defined primarily as

Sportsmen and women when wearing
and selecting specific clothing look for a variety of purposes which include
physical protection of the body, freedom of movement, individual
identification, comfort and style as well as performance enhancing attributes
(Barton, 2015). Sportswear is defined
primarily as apparel made for sports participation, however there now seems to
be growing trend of consumers purchasing these garments as casual clothes worn
for day-to-day activities (Ko et al., 2012). The connection
between sportswear and fashion is progressively obscuring the difference
between leisure and active sports apparel. The purpose of this review is to assess
the factors that have driven the vast growth of the sports apparel market and
study the key attributes influencing such an imperative desire to wear
sportswear as fashion and everyday casual clothing.


2.2 A need for sports apparel

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Sportswear was a practical solution that has evolved through significant
social changes due to increased time for leisure and higher disposable incomes
and saw a dramatic transition in
cultural attitude from the late nineteenth century onward (Holt, 1990). This
lead to popular participation in outdoor leisure activities and sports games which
saw an increase in outfits worn for a variety of pastimes, such as cycling,
golf, soccer, tennis, mountaineering and winter sports (Barton, 2015). For mountaineering up until
the First World War climbing in skirts was perpetuated in a small amount of
advertising material most notably that of Burberry (Parsons and
Rose, 2003). This
was hardly practical however middle class values demanded women’s dress code should
be climbing in skirts and not trousers otherwise it was deemed as immoral. Of
all sports that women engaged in, cycling has had the greatest attention and
signified metaphorical physical freedom across a wide social spectrum. According
to (Parsons and Rose, 2003) ‘sport itself impacted on the design of
sportswear and none more so than the bicycle’

bicycle liberated women from their actual and symbolic encumbrances of long
skirts and tight lacing. The new forms of dress designed for the bicycle –
shortened skirts, divided skirts, knickerbockers, skirts with elastic insets
and bloomers of rational dress allowed women a new physical independence and
symbolised their revolt against restrictions. With the bicycle, women
appropriated two unprecedented forms of freedom – bodily and spatial mobility.’
(Hargreaves, 2003)

Modifications or improvisations adapted clothing for a specified
activity towards a more relaxed appearance in which voiced individual
expression and creativity (Pashigian, 1988). Nevertheless sportswear
is now subjected to unique demands, problems and concerns. It is often engaged
in extreme physical and environmental performance conditions with requirements
for covering and “assisting” the active body (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016) besides
this there
is also the need to satisfy the “desire for a heightened aesthetics of sports
and sports-recreational activity” (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016). Consumers’ need
to be covered has been fulfilled for many years as ready-to-wear has become
widespread, however, due to the advances in technology various benefits besides
covering function is expected from clothes and different wardrobes for
different parts of life such as work, sports and daily wear are required (Öndo?an et al.,
2016). It
is also known that lately, an active lifestyle provides status and contributes
to one’s public image, which is an important element in social life (Öndo?an et al.,
2016). Likewise
(Arnold, 2008) states historically sportswear was a
form of clothing that developed in England, in the early twentieth century with
French couturiers such as Chanel and Patou adapting these garments for the need
of modern clients’ more active lifestyles which embraced experimentation with
sportswear design and promotion. However for many women (Parsons and
Rose, 2003) oppose emphasizing for most early active females such as climbers
their functional clothing was just that – ‘a practical rather than a political
matter’ (Parsons and Rose, 2003).

2.3 The emergence
of sportswear


“The Depression
era was central to sportswear’s emergence as a key form of affordable,
mass-produced clothing, which comprised simple, interchangeable garments that
could be worn in a variety of settings”

(Arnold, 2007)


Breathable clothing’s origins stretch back thousands of
years ago and were gradually adapted and improved by modern sportsmen for their
particular needs (Parsons and Rose,
2003). (Arnold, 2007) explains that due
to the economic pressures of the 1930s, this made cheaper mass-produced
clothing more appealing initiating a significant shift within the fashion
industry, which saw more co-ordinated efforts to promote indigenous design. Up until World War II,
without either preconception or reflection, dress was sharply divided into
menswear on the one hand and women’s on the other (Warner 2006). Women’s
sport before the First World War focused mainly on the so-called ‘rationalized
sports perused by middle class women’ (Parsons
and Rose, 2003). According to (Parsons and Rose, 2003) in the 1920s
bifurcated garments may have been accepted for sports and leisure and became
increasingly fashionable for evening wear in the 1930s, but they were not
normal everyday dress for women before World War II. Until the 1960’s clothing was how people were categorized
and how you would judge their position in society and their respectability. Few
women saw any need to wear special clothing or even adapt their everyday dress (Parsons and Rose, 2003). According to (Warner 2006) all of the restrictions
that had existed before the war appeared to disappear in the face of new
demand, usage, and attitudes about dress began to
change. After the First World War the relaxed dress that women had worn during
the war including trousers were becoming a permanent part of their apparel (Warner 2006). Dress
codes had changed forever creating a need for more functional clothing for
women and for those working in factories. Consequently (Parsons and Rose, 2003) state from a
purely practical point of view the development of women’s sport became
inseparable from dress reform, which in turn accelerated female involvement in
physical recreation.
For all these women, it offered the veneer of fashionable modern
lifestyles, with design references to an active lifestyle. As leisure and work
became a part of the wider range of women’s lives, sportswear progressively
became an appropriate form of dressing to merge varied activities (Arnold, 2007). In
contrast (Warner, 2006) depicts that the burgeoning interest in sports of all kinds and the allure of
life at elite schools brought it all to the public’s eye, and provided the
atmosphere needed to accept the new attitudes evident in the clothing designed
for various sporting activities. Similarly (Parsons and Rose, 2003) state public school
education brought a growing emphasis on physical exercise and games. This had a liberating effect with an enthusiasm for sports such as tennis,
cricket, swimming and golf that linked to an expanding formalized education. According to Warner (2006) sports then, almost
unwittingly, accomplished what no amount of dress reform had been able to
achieve in the previous century. With mass manufacturing allowing cheaper and
less contrived clothing for the masses, this ushered in a whole new concept in
casual dress. Likewise (Arnold 2007) suggests
although sportswear and to and extent menswear had been adapted for women in
the workplace at the end of the nineteenth century it was to take the impact of
the Depression, and later the absence of Parisian influence from 1940, to
consolidate sportswear’s position as a multi-purpose form of dressing and
encompass clothing that was adaptable for a whole range of occasions and




The magnitude of the shift
toward women’s sportswear can be seen in Figure 1. In women’s apparel there was
a dramatic transition in the direction of more casual clothing in the
mid-to-late 1960s. While these illustrations are episodic and selective, they
do indicate the transition toward greater demand for product variety continuing
throughout the late nineteenth century (Pashigian, 1988). This evidently projected as a more unrestricted
form of clothing unbound from the societal and physical restrictions of the
past, which addressed every women not just the elite, although the key market
for much sportswear was white middle-class women including college girls,
working women and housewives (Arnold, 2008). Dress
was cultural shorthand for class and prestige, conveying the wearer’s status in
society. The compromise between appearance and practicality was complicated in
the nineteenth century discussed by (Parsons
and Rose, 2003) leading many women to disguise their functional clothing
but this gradually began to break down even before the First World War.

Since the mid-twentieth century, sportswear has become
everyday wear, whether off the rack or luxury couture. According to (Bruun and
Langkjær, 2016) it was the styling and aesthetics that was the central
focus. Up to the beginning of the twentieth century sportswear looked almost
identical to work clothes or everyday apparel. This changed, however, in the late
decades of the twentieth century, when sportswear design detached itself from
general fashion design due to its practical function and a tendency towards a
uniform look clearly distinguished one sport from another (Bruun and
Langkjær, 2016). Aesthetics gradually entered into the picture with colours
and patterns used to characterize players and teams seizing the attention of
the spectators. By
the use of clothing and other products, athletes began to create an identity
within their sport role that would aid themselves and others in viewing them as
athletes (Donnelly & Young, 1988). It is important to recognize how
clothing was a symbolic possession in which aided the audiences’ acceptance of
an individual’s status in a certain sport. Sportswear became easily identified
with athletes perceived as more professional by wearing a team uniform rather
than casual street clothing signifying the importance of the aesthetic
influence early in the 1970’s (Harris et al., 1974). The growing
relation between fashion and sport has spanned the entire post-war era.
Challenges consisted in choice of colour, cut and fabric as well as keeping up
with the development of new fabrics, novel manufacturing methods, and new
models of production and trade (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016). This evidently all
took place within a radically changing market characterized by
mass-communication, branding, changing economy, new technologies and generational

2.4 Functional Sportswear Apparel  


By the early 1980’s through the
coincidence of sporting and technological changes saw a change in attitudes to
sporting clothing. Progressively the ‘moderns’ outnumbered the ‘traditionalists’
as sport clothing became the indication of participation as well as being
purely functional (Parsons and Rose,
2003). It is often said that especially outdoor clothing has become
more ‘fashionable’ and certainly in the 1980s there was a dramatic transformation
in the language of clothing. Until the mid 1980’s clothing still retained the
look and feel of work wear however from then on it began to look good as well
as have functional value and more importantly conveyed a particular image (Parsons and Rose, 2003). One of the
leading clothing companies for outerwear apparel in the 1980’s was Berghaus
stemmed from a relationship with American patentees of Gore-Tex. However Gore-Tex was extremely expensive clothing and could not
have been commercially successful unless there was a need for technical
clothing, which also made a statement about the status of the consumer (McCann, 2005). This was recognized
by (Parsons and Rose, 2003) claiming
the 1980’s as the ‘Berghaus decade’ with the innovation of product creating
demand for functional clothing and prompted an explosion of activity in the
manufacturing of waterproofs. One other technical development included fleece,
which saw Patagonia pioneer this attractive natural pile that had a warm
comforting appeal as well as being highly functional. Again, the market
and attitudes to clothing were changed, for here Patagonia presented a product
that was not only functional but was also aesthetically pleasing for outdoors
sport (Parsons and Rose, 2003).
This not only showed the development of high performance clothing but also
reflects the significance of the appearance in sportswear.

Recently the line between functional sports apparel and
casual apparel has faded evidenced by (SGMA, 1998) reporting the most
technical sports apparel is purchased by consumers simply for its appearance or
aura, with no intention of using it to play sports. In addition (Morganosky,
1984) elaborates on this stating that consumers are willing to pay higher
prices for apparel with a high aesthetic value regardless of the low functional
value. Likewise (Frederick
& Ryan, 1993) emphasized one of the primary reasons for sports consumption is
to enjoy the aesthetic values of sports showing a significant similarity of
social expression. (Öndo?an et al., 2016) study on sportswear
buying behaviour of university students corresponds with the trend of wearing
sportswear in daily life besides sports however results found fashion was the
least affective factor for university students when purchasing sportswear and
fitting and comfort factors taking first place. In comparison (Dickson &
Pollack, 2000) disagree with this statement that female consumers regard
aesthetic aspects such as style and brand characteristics to be more essential
than the functional aspects such as comfort and other physical
performance-enhancing features. Recognising that the aesthetic benefits reflect female consumers’ desire for attractiveness
and connect with product-related attributes such as design elements, colour and
body/garment relationships. Similarly (Eckma et al., 1990) reports on
the evaluation of purchase behaviour in women’s apparel. Style was chosen as
more important in determining rejection or adoption of the garments over
function. A visual criterion seems to have the greatest impact on selection of
apparel such as fashion-ability or popularity, aesthetic appeal, and
self-expression (Eckma et al., 1990). However technical innovation in design,
driven by sports specialists, has led to greater comfort and safety in
performance clothing but in some cases at the expense of appearance. (McCann, 2005) argues that the aesthetics of functional garments, in terms
of colour, style and fashion appeal, have not always been of major importance
with some serious designers maintaining that it is even ‘frivolous to think of
aesthetic qualities such as colour in the design of performance wear’ (McCann, 2005). Yet many sports apparel manufacturers are capitalizing on
the aesthetic desire of consumers by developing styles conducive to both
athletic activity and casual wear that allow industry retailers to charge
significantly higher prices (Catalyst Corporate Finance, 2014). This remarkably
indicates brands that are creating fashionable high
quality sports apparel that meet certain expectations of consumers are being
retailed higher than more functional products, which seems to meet consumer

2.5 Sportswear and fashion merge

Within the last half-century or so a dramatic increase in
participation in competitive, extreme and leisure sporting activities, as well
as an interest in health and fitness, has expanded the market for
sport-specific clothing. Performance sportswear has become increasingly
sophisticated in detail and styling, advancing from the swift developments in
fibre and fabric technology and modern garment construction methods. Authentic
sportswear brands, created by sports practitioners, function effectively but
have often lacked aesthetic awareness and style (McCann,
The sportswear and fashion merge supports innovative decision making in the
sourcing and selection of appropriate materials for the development of clothing
which functions, looks good and also addresses the cultural demands of particular
consumers. Recently sportswear has become a driving force for new trends in
fashion. Sportswear has recently seen a transition into
fashion wear that is worn for ‘purely aesthetic or comfort reasons by people
not taking part in any physical activity’ (Barton, 2015). It is apparent that casual and comfortable clothing have prevailed as a
fashion statement, with sports or leisure activity seen as a well-being trend
(Ko et al., 2012). Sportswear is being pulled in so many different directions
simultaneously with fashionableness opposed to functionality (Bruun and
Langkjær, 2016). (McCann, 2005) highlights how trend
forecasting with regards to colour, styling and mood is now available for
sports fabrics and apparel. The interrelationship between fashion and leisure has
rarely been so apparent, for, the trend ‘athleisure’ is increasingly part of
common phrasing. In the athleisure case, wearers are dressed for a moderate and
metaphorical form of urban leisurewear. Stretchy, comfortable, responsive
fabrics, ‘smart’ textiles, hi-tech finish and wearable technology are designed
into outfits that can be layered up or down, zipped on or off, according to
climate or context. (Goodrum, 2016) compared product designers and consumers
alike by embracing scientific advancements in order to provide technologically
rich solutions to the challenges of modern living. These innovations are notable
in the ‘promotional rhetoric for athleisure products’ (Goodrum, 2016).

The entry of sportswear into
the luxury fashion market is occurring by sports brands collaborating with
well-known designers to introduce an exclusive line of the sportswear brand. Such
an approach has roots in the principle that the fundamental element of luxury
brands is iconic product designers, as brands are intertwined with the personality
and lifestyle of their creator (Lim et al., 2016). For example,
the well-known sports brand Adidas teamed up with famous fashion designer,
Stella McCartney, to launch a luxury line of sportswear, Adidas Stella
McCartney. (Lim et al., 2016) explains in
particular, the symbolic benefits may be more important for the luxury
sportswear brands than for regular sportswear brands, because luxury sportswear
needs to fulfill the luxury appetites of consumers, on top of fulfilling the
performance enhancing features and hedonic criteria expected from sportswear
consumers. In contrast, the hedonic and utilitarian benefits may be more influential
in consumer willingness to pay for non-luxury sportswear brands than for luxury
sportswear brands. This is because active wear is intended for physical
activity, and for practical, comfort or safety reasons, which fundamentally
demand functional benefits, opposed to the luxury brands. In contrast one of
the primary reason for sports consumption is to enjoy the aesthetic values of
sports (Frederick et al., 1993) and to obtain emotional inspirations (Davey et al.,
2009) that tend to magnify the impacts of hedonic
benefits for sportswear brands. Secondly conventional luxury brands have
expanded into the luxury sportswear market by creating ‘sports lines’ of their
existing line. For example, world-renowned luxury brand Prada have been
successful in capturing significant market share in the sportswear market with
their sport line ‘Prada Sport’ (Lim et al., 2016). This
targets a more accessible luxury segment of consumers by appealing to a more
diverse spectrum of consumer preferences (Zheng et al., 2013).

2.6 Brand influence on sportswear

Consumers perceive brand to be a symbol of quality (Rao
and Monroe, 1989) high status, and hence opt for brands that are modern and
cosmopolitan (Lee et al., 2008) in
order to enhance their identity in society (Dickson and Pollack, 2000).
Consumers consider brands not only as the representation of a company but also
as status, identity, financial background and the general living of a person
hence why many consumers buy brands due to the brand image in the market (Tong
and Hawley, 2009). According to Tong and Hawley (2009) the sportswear market is
one of the most heavily branded areas in the global apparel market estimated holding
that over three-quarters of the total active sportswear market are branded.
Branding remains the industry’s largest source of competitive advantage. This
is an area of clothing in which customers’ purchasing choices are frequently
determined by the sports figures they admire, or the teams they follow, and the
brands they aspire to wear (Newbery, 2008). The growing interest of consumers
both as participants and speculators adds to the increased demand in sportswear
(Tong and Su, 2014). In spite of the reports being made for the custom of
wearing athletic clothing, interestingly no research appears to have been
published which looks at the functional aspects of wearing a uniform
contributing to the athletic performance. Nash’s (1977) account of runners used clothing for identification and
status providing further evidence integrating the influence of appearance in
sportswear. Likewise Wheat and Dickson (1999) found golfers satisfaction
occurred most frequently when respondents were pleased with the expressive
characteristics such as style and branding. What makes this finding noteworthy
is the emphasis on the fact that in relation to role identity although golfers
were satisfied with the brand name on their uniform they were often
dissatisfied with the actual product (Wheat & Dickson, 1999). Therefore
athletes appear to be willing to sacrifice performance aspects of sportswear for
prestigious and fashionable brand names.

Consumers believe that brand name is a symbol of quality
and status and hence is used as a source of information about a credence
property (Teas and Grapentine, 1996). There are various factors that influence
the increased demand of sports clothing and the major ones are garments
prevailed as a fashion trend, casual wear, lifestyle, leisure activity and
well-being trends (Ko et al.,
2012). Therefore the buying behavior in sportswear shows a change in pattern
from function to fashion/leisurewear and this researcher assumes that this
could be as a result of the brand name and the perception of the brand in the
mind of the consumers. The change in the pattern of buying behavior is
evidenced by new research from Mintel in 2016 showing that 50% of consumers who bought sports clothing, footwear,
equipment or accessories did so for non-sports use and 34% purchased
fashionable sportswear that can be worn when not exercising (,
2017) Furthermore, 32% of purchasers say they prefer to buy from sports
retailers who follow the latest fashion trends (, 2017). In
addition the women’s sportswear market in particular is becoming more demanding
as customers become more fashion conscious and opt for items fit for all
occasions. Demonstrated in (Catalyst Corporate Finance, 2014) women
have a desire for fashionable workout clothing with an increased emphasis on
versatility, convenience, fashion, comfort and style appeal with clothing that
offers both functional performance and style appeal. 



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