Exploring The Classics of Vintage Sportswear Brands

The global vintage sportswear market is estimated to be worth over £4 billion, with vintage Adidas tracksuits are among the most sought-after items, with prices increasing by 42% over the past three years. Authentic vintage sportswear can be quite valuable, especially if it is in good condition and has iconic branding or rare pieces.

Sportswear is defined as clothing and footwear specifically designed and worn for sports activities or physical exercise, and it’s history is entwined with a move into a crossover into casual leisurewear, and everyday wear.

Lets be blunt, despite people playing sports for thousands of years, when we think of sportswear it’s garments such as athletic shorts, tracksuits, sweatshirts,
jerseys, leggings, sports bras, t-shirts, sneakers.

Modern sportswear is designed to enhance performance, typically made from breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics and technology that help regulate body temperature and enhance performance. It may also incorporate features like padding, compression, or reflective elements for safety and functionality.

But sportswear has made a remarkable impact on the fashion industry since the introduction of female activewear in the 1870’s when British John Redfern introduced sports-specific clothing for sporty women who rode horses or played tennis and other active sports. For reference French brand Le Coq Sportif was founded in 1892. Of course that era is more defined as antique sportswear, with the 1920’s haute couture fashion houses also borderline on the cusp of true vintage.

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The first Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star was produced in 1917

Where do I personally draw the line between antique and vintage? Well anything Victorian (her reign ended in 1901) and Edwardian (until 1914) for sure. To put it into perspective though, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star came out in 1917, and perhaps due to it’s limited design change that I consider it a definite vintage sneaker. Rightly or wrongly, I would classify those styles discontinued as antique.

We’ve covered in depth before with Lacoste’s polo shirt in the 30’s, and baseball caps in the 50’s. The latter is an absolute staple of urban streetwear, and with the continued design it’s definitely in the retro category.

For me, vintage sportswear style is really the 1970’s onwards though, with Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, plus Adidas Stan Smith’s truly iconic trainer shoe. By the mid-1980s, sportswear had become a key part of the international fashion scene, with the boundaries between activewear and fashion sportswear increasingly blurred. There is no doubt hoodies, tracksuits, yoga pants, and other garments explicitly associated with athletic wear were common as athleisure everyday outfits and a staple in many people’s wardrobes.

80s and 90s stand out brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Fila, Reebok, Lacoste, K-swiss, Ellesse, Umbro, Kappa, Macron, Champion, and Sergio Tacchini have played a significant role in this rise, offering stylish and comfortable options for both athletic activities and casual wear. And this is the appeal for men and women in their 40’s and 50’s, with a disposable income and a nostalgia for our youth.

Sportswear is no longer just limited to the gym or the field; retro sports apparel has seamlessly merged into everyday fashion. Athleisure enthusiasts can effortlessly transition from a workout session to a social gathering without compromising on style. And with vintage clothing more available than ever, you can define your favourite eras just by finding the right vintage branded joggers and hoodies.

Jordan MA2 GS Black Light Blue Fury basketball retro basket ball sneaker trainers isolated on a white studio background. Vintage sports rare memorabilia. 23 nike air jordan jpg
Nike Air Jordan MA2 GS

Top Brands For Vintage Sports Apparel

In the realm of vintage sportswear fashion apparel, there are several top brands that have earned a prominent place in the fashion industry. One such obvious brand is Adidas, renowned for its innovative designs and high-quality sportswear, coupled with its timeless look that has attracted rock stars, actors, athletes and influencer to adorn themselves in this iconic fashion apparel.

Its iconic three stripes logo has become synonymous with the brand, making it instantly recognizable and highly sought after by fashion enthusiasts and athletes alike. From classic tracksuits to retro sneakers, Adidas continues to dominate the vintage sportswear scene with its timeless appeal.

Run DMC were rocking a classic pair of Superstar sneakers in their video of Walk This Way which was at the time the most requested music video on MTV boosted sales for this type of low level sneaker and its counterparts like the Puma Clyde and Nike Cortez.

Another notable big name brand in the vintage sportswear fashion domain is of course Nike. Established in 1964, Nike has cultivated a strong following by catering to athletes’ needs while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of fashion. With its signature swoosh logo, Nike has successfully combined style and performance, creating a cult-like following around the world. From its iconic Air Jordan sneakers to the ever-popular Windrunner jackets, Nike’s vintage sportswear collection offers a diverse range of clothing that seamlessly combines comfort and sophistication.

When it comes to vintage sportswear, these brands stand out, not just for their quality and craftsmanship, but also for their ability to transcend time and remain relevant in an ever-changing fashion landscape. With their iconic designs, logos, famous affiliations and rich heritage, Adidas and Nike continue to capture the hearts of fashion enthusiasts and sportswear aficionados alike. Their influence on the industry is undeniable, and their vintage collections serve as a testament to their enduring appeal.

As the demand for vintage sportswear fashion continues to grow, these top brands will undoubtedly continue to dominate the market, inspiring future generations of fashion-forward individuals to embrace the allure of retro-chic.

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John McEnroe in Sergio Tacchini and Bjorn Borg in Fila. Photo Credit Sergio Tacchini Instagram

The 80′ Casual Scene In The UK

The 80’s witnessed the emergence of a distinctive fashion subculture known as the casual scene in the UK. This movement was characterized by the adoption of sportswear as everyday attire, blending elements of both athletic and casual clothing. Influenced by the rising popularity of football hooliganism, young British men began to embrace a style that reflected their rebellious nature and loyalty to their favourite teams.

One of the key features of the 80’s casual scene was the strong affiliation with certain sportswear brands. Classic sportswear labels like Adidas, Fila, Lacoste, Ellesse and Sergio Tacchini became iconic symbols of this fashion movement. Genuine pieces from this decade are true vintage sports clothing in my humble opinion.

The distinctive logos and designs of these brands created a sense of identity and belonging among the members of the casual scene. Plus, the quality and durability of these sportswear pieces made them suitable for both fashion and function, making them an ideal choice for those who wanted to look stylish while engaging in their rowdy activities.

It was surprising to see the smaller, less established brands like Fila and Sergio Tacchini emerge from this scene, but their now iconic tennis shirts and tank tops become de rigeur for any self-respecting casual.

The classic brand Fila had the Bj range, part of a sponsorship deal with legendary tennis player Bjorn Borg and who can forget John McEnroe in his Nike Court sneakers strolling out onto Centre Court. Shoe like those and the Diadora’s worn by Borg became part of the culture which has had a new lease of life in the retro releases since those heady days.

The current trend of the retro style has opened up these iconic brands to a new audience of ever hungry fashionistas. Its not uncommon to see a middle aged man strolling down the street wearing a classic Fila tracktop, coupled with and box fresh pair of Diadora Gold trainers, or how often do you see a famous person on the red carpet with a vintage Fred Perry underneath his or her dress jacket.

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Classic Fred Perry

What Makes Sports Clothing Brands Fashionable

Sportswear brands have become ever more fashionable in recent years, and there are several key factors that contribute to their popularity. Firstly, the emphasis on comfort and functionality is a significant reason why sportswear brands have gained favour in the fashion world.

Secondly, the power of branding cannot be undermined when it comes to the fashionability of sportswear brands that make them vintage streetwear essentials. Many well-established sportswear brands have cultivated a strong brand image over the years, associating themselves with athletic prowess, fitness, and a youthful spirit. Consumers are not only drawn to the aspirational lifestyle that these brands represent, but to the vintage styling and cool street nature of the clothing and sneakers, fuelling their desire to own and flaunt their products.

Additionally, collaborations with high-end fashion designers, athletes, and celebrities have helped sportswear brands further elevate their status and appeal to a broader audience.

As the fashion industry continues to evolve, it is likely that sportswear will maintain its status as a go-to choice for those seeking style and athleticism in their wardrobe.

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Other Iconic Vintage Sportswear Brands

Puma, one of the iconic vintage sportswear brands, has been a prominent force in the fashion industry since its establishment in 1948. From their classic suede sneakers to their comfortable tracksuits, Puma has continued to redefine sportswear fashion, making it a staple for athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike.

Think Steven Tyler of Aerosmith prancing around stage in his Puma Clydes whilst also remembering their dominance of the early hip-hop scene in New York. Originally a basketball shoe, a lifestyle equivalent was brought out.

Another iconic vintage sportswear brand that has left an indelible mark in fashion history is Champion. Founded in 1919, Champion has been a pioneer in creating high-quality sportswear that seamlessly blends style and functionality. Retro is the way forward for Champion as opposed to vintage styles.

Fred Perry is the quintessential English brand of understated style and elegance. From the days of the Mods wearing them as a casual item to its resurgence to a global brand issuing old colour waves and new products that emulate their original and vintage menswear styles from yesteryear.

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Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels of Run DMC still wears Adidas

Famous People Wearing Vintage Retro Sportswear

In recent years, the trend of famous people wearing vintage sportswear has gained significant traction. Celebrities from different industries and backgrounds have been spotted rocking throwback jerseys, athletic hoodies, and retro sneakers. This fusion of fashion and nostalgia has become a hallmark of individual style and a way for these celebrities to pay homage to the iconic pieces of the past.

Brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma have capitalized on this trend by releasing limited-edition collections and collaborating with famous personalities to create unique, vintage-inspired pieces that resonate with both fashion enthusiasts and sports fans alike. This is not to say they don’t have a high share of the market with proper running shoes, just that they crossed into the fashion purchase too.

One of the key reasons why famous people choose to wear vintage sportswear is its ability to make a statement. By donning iconic pieces from the past, these celebrities can express their individuality, showcase their knowledge of fashion history, and create a sense of nostalgia. Searching out that elusive, hard to find piece of sportswear folklore and wearing it in front of friends is a conversation piece as well as a great achievement.

Additionally, vintage sportswear allows famous individuals to connect with their fans on a personal level, as it reminds them of memorable sports moments or highlights important milestones in their careers. Whether it’s an iconic basketball jersey worn by a famous musician on stage or a throwback track jacket sported by an actor during a casual outing, these vintage pieces become symbols of identity, influence, and cultural significance for both the wearers and their admirers.

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A genuine 90’s shellsuit is vintage. Any reproduction is retro

Vintage Or Retro Sportswear?

With the rise of nostalgia in fashion, many people are seeking out unique and one-of-a-kind pieces from the past. Vintage sportswear refers to clothing or accessories that were made in an earlier era, typically from the 1960s to the 1990s. These rare pieces have a certain charm and character that cannot be replicated by trendy modern-day brands. From classic Adidas tracksuits, Fila track tops, Ellesse tennis shorts, to old-school collectible Nike sneakers, vintage sportswear allows individuals to showcase their love for both fashion and sports.

The appeal of vintage sportswear lies in its authenticity and history. Each vintage piece tells a story and represents a certain time in fashion and popular culture. Whether it’s a vintage NBA jersey or a pair of vintage Converse sneakers, these items are not just clothing, but also artefacts of a bygone era.

Owning and wearing vintage sportswear allows individuals to express their personal style and individuality, while also paying homage to the fashion icons and trends of the past. Vintage sportswear is not limited to specific brands or styles – it encompasses a wide range of garments and accessories that cater to diverse tastes and preferences.

The rise of retro fashion now being manufactured by most of the leading sportswear brands has seen them reissue classic items from their back catalogue that are appealing to a new generation of young people. Using retro items to boost sales also increases brand loyalty and will continue to evolve as vintage and retro fashion remains popular.