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

Sportsmen and women when wearingand selecting specific clothing look for a variety of purposes which includephysical protection of the body, freedom of movement, individualidentification, comfort and style as well as performance enhancing attributes(Barton, 2015).

Sportswear is definedprimarily as apparel made for sports participation, however there now seems tobe growing trend of consumers purchasing these garments as casual clothes wornfor day-to-day activities (Ko et al., 2012). The connectionbetween sportswear and fashion is progressively obscuring the differencebetween leisure and active sports apparel.

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The purpose of this review is to assessthe factors that have driven the vast growth of the sports apparel market andstudy the key attributes influencing such an imperative desire to wearsportswear as fashion and everyday casual clothing. 2.2 A need for sports apparelSportswear was a practical solution that has evolved through significantsocial changes due to increased time for leisure and higher disposable incomesand saw a dramatic transition incultural attitude from the late nineteenth century onward (Holt, 1990). Thislead to popular participation in outdoor leisure activities and sports games whichsaw 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 untilthe First World War climbing in skirts was perpetuated in a small amount ofadvertising material most notably that of Burberry (Parsons andRose, 2003). Thiswas hardly practical however middle class values demanded women’s dress code shouldbe climbing in skirts and not trousers otherwise it was deemed as immoral.

Ofall sports that women engaged in, cycling has had the greatest attention andsignified metaphorical physical freedom across a wide social spectrum. Accordingto (Parsons and Rose, 2003) ‘sport itself impacted on the design ofsportswear and none more so than the bicycle’ ‘Thebicycle liberated women from their actual and symbolic encumbrances of longskirts and tight lacing. The new forms of dress designed for the bicycle –shortened skirts, divided skirts, knickerbockers, skirts with elastic insetsand bloomers of rational dress allowed women a new physical independence andsymbolised their revolt against restrictions. With the bicycle, womenappropriated two unprecedented forms of freedom – bodily and spatial mobility.'(Hargreaves, 2003)Modifications or improvisations adapted clothing for a specifiedactivity towards a more relaxed appearance in which voiced individualexpression and creativity (Pashigian, 1988). Nevertheless sportswearis now subjected to unique demands, problems and concerns. It is often engagedin extreme physical and environmental performance conditions with requirementsfor covering and “assisting” the active body (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016) besidesthis thereis also the need to satisfy the “desire for a heightened aesthetics of sportsand sports-recreational activity” (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016).

Consumers’ needto be covered has been fulfilled for many years as ready-to-wear has becomewidespread, however, due to the advances in technology various benefits besidescovering function is expected from clothes and different wardrobes fordifferent parts of life such as work, sports and daily wear are required (Öndo?an et al.,2016). Itis also known that lately, an active lifestyle provides status and contributesto one’s public image, which is an important element in social life (Öndo?an et al.,2016). Likewise(Arnold, 2008) states historically sportswear was aform of clothing that developed in England, in the early twentieth century withFrench couturiers such as Chanel and Patou adapting these garments for the needof modern clients’ more active lifestyles which embraced experimentation withsportswear design and promotion. However for many women (Parsons andRose, 2003) oppose emphasizing for most early active females such as climberstheir functional clothing was just that – ‘a practical rather than a politicalmatter’ (Parsons and Rose, 2003).

2.3 The emergenceof sportswear “The Depressionera was central to sportswear’s emergence as a key form of affordable,mass-produced clothing, which comprised simple, interchangeable garments thatcould be worn in a variety of settings” (Arnold, 2007) Breathable clothing’s origins stretch back thousands ofyears ago and were gradually adapted and improved by modern sportsmen for theirparticular needs (Parsons and Rose,2003). (Arnold, 2007) explains that dueto the economic pressures of the 1930s, this made cheaper mass-producedclothing more appealing initiating a significant shift within the fashionindustry, which saw more co-ordinated efforts to promote indigenous design. Up until World War II,without either preconception or reflection, dress was sharply divided intomenswear on the one hand and women’s on the other (Warner 2006). Women’ssport before the First World War focused mainly on the so-called ‘rationalizedsports perused by middle class women’ (Parsonsand Rose, 2003). According to (Parsons and Rose, 2003) in the 1920sbifurcated garments may have been accepted for sports and leisure and becameincreasingly fashionable for evening wear in the 1930s, but they were notnormal everyday dress for women before World War II.

Until the 1960’s clothing was how people were categorizedand how you would judge their position in society and their respectability. Fewwomen saw any need to wear special clothing or even adapt their everyday dress (Parsons and Rose, 2003). According to (Warner 2006) all of the restrictionsthat had existed before the war appeared to disappear in the face of newdemand, usage, and attitudes about dress began tochange. After the First World War the relaxed dress that women had worn duringthe war including trousers were becoming a permanent part of their apparel (Warner 2006). Dresscodes had changed forever creating a need for more functional clothing forwomen and for those working in factories.

Consequently (Parsons and Rose, 2003) state from apurely practical point of view the development of women’s sport becameinseparable from dress reform, which in turn accelerated female involvement inphysical recreation.For all these women, it offered the veneer of fashionable modernlifestyles, with design references to an active lifestyle. As leisure and workbecame a part of the wider range of women’s lives, sportswear progressivelybecame an appropriate form of dressing to merge varied activities (Arnold, 2007). Incontrast (Warner, 2006) depicts that the burgeoning interest in sports of all kinds and the allure oflife at elite schools brought it all to the public’s eye, and provided theatmosphere needed to accept the new attitudes evident in the clothing designedfor various sporting activities. Similarly (Parsons and Rose, 2003) state public schooleducation 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, almostunwittingly, accomplished what no amount of dress reform had been able toachieve in the previous century. With mass manufacturing allowing cheaper andless contrived clothing for the masses, this ushered in a whole new concept incasual dress. Likewise (Arnold 2007) suggestsalthough sportswear and to and extent menswear had been adapted for women inthe workplace at the end of the nineteenth century it was to take the impact ofthe Depression, and later the absence of Parisian influence from 1940, toconsolidate sportswear’s position as a multi-purpose form of dressing andencompass clothing that was adaptable for a whole range of occasions andlifestyles.    The magnitude of the shifttoward women’s sportswear can be seen in Figure 1.

In women’s apparel there wasa dramatic transition in the direction of more casual clothing in themid-to-late 1960s. While these illustrations are episodic and selective, theydo indicate the transition toward greater demand for product variety continuingthroughout the late nineteenth century (Pashigian, 1988). This evidently projected as a more unrestrictedform of clothing unbound from the societal and physical restrictions of thepast, which addressed every women not just the elite, although the key marketfor much sportswear was white middle-class women including college girls,working women and housewives (Arnold, 2008). Dresswas cultural shorthand for class and prestige, conveying the wearer’s status insociety. The compromise between appearance and practicality was complicated inthe nineteenth century discussed by (Parsonsand Rose, 2003) leading many women to disguise their functional clothingbut this gradually began to break down even before the First World War.Since the mid-twentieth century, sportswear has becomeeveryday wear, whether off the rack or luxury couture. According to (Bruun andLangkjær, 2016) it was the styling and aesthetics that was the centralfocus. Up to the beginning of the twentieth century sportswear looked almostidentical to work clothes or everyday apparel.

This changed, however, in the latedecades of the twentieth century, when sportswear design detached itself fromgeneral fashion design due to its practical function and a tendency towards auniform look clearly distinguished one sport from another (Bruun andLangkjær, 2016). Aesthetics gradually entered into the picture with coloursand patterns used to characterize players and teams seizing the attention ofthe spectators. Bythe use of clothing and other products, athletes began to create an identitywithin their sport role that would aid themselves and others in viewing them asathletes (Donnelly & Young, 1988).

It is important to recognize howclothing was a symbolic possession in which aided the audiences’ acceptance ofan individual’s status in a certain sport. Sportswear became easily identifiedwith athletes perceived as more professional by wearing a team uniform ratherthan casual street clothing signifying the importance of the aestheticinfluence early in the 1970’s (Harris et al., 1974). The growingrelation between fashion and sport has spanned the entire post-war era.Challenges consisted in choice of colour, cut and fabric as well as keeping upwith the development of new fabrics, novel manufacturing methods, and newmodels of production and trade (Bruun and Langkjær, 2016). This evidently alltook place within a radically changing market characterized bymass-communication, branding, changing economy, new technologies and generationalshifts.2.4 Functional Sportswear Apparel   By the early 1980’s through thecoincidence of sporting and technological changes saw a change in attitudes tosporting clothing.

Progressively the ‘moderns’ outnumbered the ‘traditionalists’as sport clothing became the indication of participation as well as beingpurely functional (Parsons and Rose,2003). It is often said that especially outdoor clothing has becomemore ‘fashionable’ and certainly in the 1980s there was a dramatic transformationin the language of clothing. Until the mid 1980’s clothing still retained thelook and feel of work wear however from then on it began to look good as wellas have functional value and more importantly conveyed a particular image (Parsons and Rose, 2003). One of theleading clothing companies for outerwear apparel in the 1980’s was Berghausstemmed from a relationship with American patentees of Gore-Tex.

However Gore-Tex was extremely expensive clothing and could nothave been commercially successful unless there was a need for technicalclothing, which also made a statement about the status of the consumer (McCann, 2005). This was recognizedby (Parsons and Rose, 2003) claimingthe 1980’s as the ‘Berghaus decade’ with the innovation of product creatingdemand for functional clothing and prompted an explosion of activity in themanufacturing of waterproofs. One other technical development included fleece,which saw Patagonia pioneer this attractive natural pile that had a warmcomforting appeal as well as being highly functional. Again, the marketand attitudes to clothing were changed, for here Patagonia presented a productthat was not only functional but was also aesthetically pleasing for outdoorssport (Parsons and Rose, 2003).This not only showed the development of high performance clothing but alsoreflects the significance of the appearance in sportswear.Recently the line between functional sports apparel andcasual apparel has faded evidenced by (SGMA, 1998) reporting the mosttechnical sports apparel is purchased by consumers simply for its appearance oraura, with no intention of using it to play sports. In addition (Morganosky,1984) elaborates on this stating that consumers are willing to pay higherprices for apparel with a high aesthetic value regardless of the low functionalvalue.

Likewise (Frederick& Ryan, 1993) emphasized one of the primary reasons for sports consumption isto enjoy the aesthetic values of sports showing a significant similarity ofsocial expression. (Öndo?an et al., 2016) study on sportswearbuying behaviour of university students corresponds with the trend of wearingsportswear in daily life besides sports however results found fashion was theleast affective factor for university students when purchasing sportswear andfitting and comfort factors taking first place.

In comparison (Dickson &Pollack, 2000) disagree with this statement that female consumers regardaesthetic aspects such as style and brand characteristics to be more essentialthan the functional aspects such as comfort and other physicalperformance-enhancing features. Recognising that the aesthetic benefits reflect female consumers’ desire for attractivenessand connect with product-related attributes such as design elements, colour andbody/garment relationships. Similarly (Eckma et al., 1990) reports onthe evaluation of purchase behaviour in women’s apparel. Style was chosen asmore important in determining rejection or adoption of the garments overfunction.

A visual criterion seems to have the greatest impact on selection ofapparel such as fashion-ability or popularity, aesthetic appeal, andself-expression (Eckma et al., 1990). However technical innovation in design,driven by sports specialists, has led to greater comfort and safety inperformance clothing but in some cases at the expense of appearance. (McCann, 2005) argues that the aesthetics of functional garments, in termsof colour, style and fashion appeal, have not always been of major importancewith some serious designers maintaining that it is even ‘frivolous to think ofaesthetic qualities such as colour in the design of performance wear’ (McCann, 2005). Yet many sports apparel manufacturers are capitalizing onthe aesthetic desire of consumers by developing styles conducive to bothathletic activity and casual wear that allow industry retailers to chargesignificantly higher prices (Catalyst Corporate Finance, 2014). This remarkablyindicates brands that are creating fashionable highquality sports apparel that meet certain expectations of consumers are beingretailed higher than more functional products, which seems to meet consumersatisfaction. 2.

5 Sportswear and fashion mergeWithin the last half-century or so a dramatic increase inparticipation in competitive, extreme and leisure sporting activities, as wellas an interest in health and fitness, has expanded the market forsport-specific clothing. Performance sportswear has become increasinglysophisticated in detail and styling, advancing from the swift developments infibre and fabric technology and modern garment construction methods. Authenticsportswear brands, created by sports practitioners, function effectively buthave often lacked aesthetic awareness and style (McCann,2005).The sportswear and fashion merge supports innovative decision making in thesourcing and selection of appropriate materials for the development of clothingwhich functions, looks good and also addresses the cultural demands of particularconsumers. Recently sportswear has become a driving force for new trends infashion. Sportswear has recently seen a transition intofashion wear that is worn for ‘purely aesthetic or comfort reasons by peoplenot taking part in any physical activity’ (Barton, 2015).

It is apparent that casual and comfortable clothing have prevailed as afashion statement, with sports or leisure activity seen as a well-being trend(Ko et al., 2012). Sportswear is being pulled in so many different directionssimultaneously with fashionableness opposed to functionality (Bruun andLangkjær, 2016). (McCann, 2005) highlights how trendforecasting with regards to colour, styling and mood is now available forsports fabrics and apparel.

The interrelationship between fashion and leisure hasrarely been so apparent, for, the trend ‘athleisure’ is increasingly part ofcommon phrasing. In the athleisure case, wearers are dressed for a moderate andmetaphorical form of urban leisurewear. Stretchy, comfortable, responsivefabrics, ‘smart’ textiles, hi-tech finish and wearable technology are designedinto outfits that can be layered up or down, zipped on or off, according toclimate or context. (Goodrum, 2016) compared product designers and consumersalike by embracing scientific advancements in order to provide technologicallyrich solutions to the challenges of modern living. These innovations are notablein the ‘promotional rhetoric for athleisure products’ (Goodrum, 2016).The entry of sportswear intothe luxury fashion market is occurring by sports brands collaborating withwell-known designers to introduce an exclusive line of the sportswear brand.

Suchan approach has roots in the principle that the fundamental element of luxurybrands is iconic product designers, as brands are intertwined with the personalityand 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 StellaMcCartney. (Lim et al., 2016) explains inparticular, the symbolic benefits may be more important for the luxurysportswear brands than for regular sportswear brands, because luxury sportswearneeds to fulfill the luxury appetites of consumers, on top of fulfilling theperformance enhancing features and hedonic criteria expected from sportswearconsumers. In contrast, the hedonic and utilitarian benefits may be more influentialin consumer willingness to pay for non-luxury sportswear brands than for luxurysportswear brands.

This is because active wear is intended for physicalactivity, and for practical, comfort or safety reasons, which fundamentallydemand functional benefits, opposed to the luxury brands. In contrast one ofthe primary reason for sports consumption is to enjoy the aesthetic values ofsports (Frederick et al., 1993) and to obtain emotional inspirations (Davey et al.

,2009) that tend to magnify the impacts of hedonicbenefits for sportswear brands. Secondly conventional luxury brands haveexpanded into the luxury sportswear market by creating ‘sports lines’ of theirexisting line. For example, world-renowned luxury brand Prada have beensuccessful in capturing significant market share in the sportswear market withtheir sport line ‘Prada Sport’ (Lim et al.

, 2016). Thistargets a more accessible luxury segment of consumers by appealing to a morediverse spectrum of consumer preferences (Zheng et al., 2013).2.6 Brand influence on sportswearConsumers perceive brand to be a symbol of quality (Raoand Monroe, 1989) high status, and hence opt for brands that are modern andcosmopolitan (Lee et al., 2008) inorder to enhance their identity in society (Dickson and Pollack, 2000).

Consumers consider brands not only as the representation of a company but alsoas status, identity, financial background and the general living of a personhence why many consumers buy brands due to the brand image in the market (Tongand Hawley, 2009). According to Tong and Hawley (2009) the sportswear market isone of the most heavily branded areas in the global apparel market estimated holdingthat over three-quarters of the total active sportswear market are branded.Branding remains the industry’s largest source of competitive advantage. Thisis an area of clothing in which customers’ purchasing choices are frequentlydetermined by the sports figures they admire, or the teams they follow, and thebrands they aspire to wear (Newbery, 2008).

The growing interest of consumersboth 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 ofwearing athletic clothing, interestingly no research appears to have beenpublished which looks at the functional aspects of wearing a uniformcontributing to the athletic performance. Nash’s (1977) account of runners used clothing for identification andstatus providing further evidence integrating the influence of appearance insportswear. Likewise Wheat and Dickson (1999) found golfers satisfactionoccurred most frequently when respondents were pleased with the expressivecharacteristics such as style and branding. What makes this finding noteworthyis the emphasis on the fact that in relation to role identity although golferswere satisfied with the brand name on their uniform they were oftendissatisfied with the actual product (Wheat & Dickson, 1999).

Thereforeathletes appear to be willing to sacrifice performance aspects of sportswear forprestigious and fashionable brand names. Consumers believe that brand name is a symbol of qualityand status and hence is used as a source of information about a credenceproperty (Teas and Grapentine, 1996). There are various factors that influencethe increased demand of sports clothing and the major ones are garmentsprevailed as a fashion trend, casual wear, lifestyle, leisure activity andwell-being trends (Ko et al.

,2012). Therefore the buying behavior in sportswear shows a change in patternfrom function to fashion/leisurewear and this researcher assumes that thiscould be as a result of the brand name and the perception of the brand in themind of the consumers. The change in the pattern of buying behavior isevidenced 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% purchasedfashionable sportswear that can be worn when not exercising (,2017) Furthermore, 32% of purchasers say they prefer to buy from sportsretailers who follow the latest fashion trends (, 2017).

Inaddition the women’s sportswear market in particular is becoming more demandingas customers become more fashion conscious and opt for items fit for alloccasions. Demonstrated in (Catalyst Corporate Finance, 2014) womenhave a desire for fashionable workout clothing with an increased emphasis onversatility, convenience, fashion, comfort and style appeal with clothing thatoffers both functional performance and style appeal. 

Author: Becky Norton


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