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updated 21 Apr 2014, 04:56
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Urban, The Straits Times
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Fit for the runway

Once-staid sports like tennis and golf now have a sexy new edge, thanks to sportswear brands getting into the swing of things on the fashion front.

Runways are serving up some love-all sports fashion that combines good looks with the high-performance fabrics that keep athletes cool under pressure.

One brand that leaps out is Germany's Adidas. Its collaborations with Japanese avant-garde designer Yohji Yamamoto and hip-hop star Missy Elliot succeeded in pushing track jackets and sweat pants into the forefront of chic.

Stella McCartney's line for Adidas (with prices starting at $70 for a pair of running shorts) is so runway-perfect that Vogue magazine said the sports label is 'more experimental and fashion-forward' than McCartney's own eponymous high fashion line.

Fans include 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki, who was runner-up at this year's US Open tennis tournament just two weeks ago when she was decked in a cute lilac Stella McCartney tennis dress.

So feminine are its pastel-coloured yoga shoes and multi-tiered tennis dresses that they beg to be flaunted even off the courts.

The sometimes stuffy sport of golf has also been given a makeover, with professional golfer Jesper Parnevik landing the fashion equivalent of a hole in one in his J. Lindeberg's purple plaid pants, fuchsia sweaters and plum-coloured polo shirts.

The emergence of sportswear in the mainstream fashion scene took place in the 1970s, when tracksuits became a signature piece of clothing worn at discos. The 1970s also saw a fitness craze in America which led to a sharp increase in sportswear sales.

Sportswear became one of the defining looks of the 1990s fashion scene too. Brand names such as Nike and Adidas were often seen on celebrities who wore sweatpants and hoodies around Hollywood, upping their cool factor.

Although fashionable sportswear is fast becoming commonplace, not many sports brands have successfully cemented their status on the fashion front.

One brand that has successfully made the transition from exercise gear to stylish trendsetter is Fred Perry, whose famous polo shirts and cardigans can be found in three stand-alone shops here.

Said the brand spokesman: 'Our items are all painstakingly designed and we keep our ears to the ground to keep up with colour trends and styles. We know what colours and styles our customers want.'

The British brand, which focuses on creating tennis apparel, also counts actor Ewan McGregor and tennis star Andy Roddick as fans.

Roddick, for example, was quoted in GQ saying he loves the brand's lightweight material and trendy multi-coloured stripes.

Adidas has also recently spiced up its collection to include runway-ready pieces in its new SLVR line, which features fashion-forward items like a cowl-neck sweater and a bubble-shaped mini skirt.

Angelica Suiza, director of Adidas' sports style division in the Asia-Pacific region, told Urban: 'What sets us apart is the continuous partnerships with renowned fashion icons such as Yamamoto, McCartney and diverse designs by designers like Jeremy Scott.

'One of our strategies is to create fashionable products that set trends for consumers.'

Urban singles out four sports brands - Adidas, Lacoste, Fred Perry and Juicy Couture - to see how far they have run.

 


Adidas

History: Founded in 1949 by a shoemaker called Adi Dassler from a rural town in Germany. Dassler became famous after athlete Emil Zatopek wore his shoes in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, clinching the gold medal in the 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon races.

Classic pieces: Sports shoes of course, with those distinctive parallel stripes emblazoned on an all-white leather body. Also famous is its track-jacket made of waterproof nylon.

On-trend picks: The brand's new line, SLVR, flaunts running shoes in eye-catching colours such as red and purple. Theses $300 all-red lace-up shoes boast waterproof rubber soles and a sleek nylon finish. The lightweight soles also make for comfy running.

The hip-hop lovin' bunch will love this $419 orange jacket emblazoned with a face of a tiger.

Lacoste

History: In 1933, two-time tennis champ Rene Lacoste paired up with Andre Gillier, the owner of the largest French knitwear manufacturing firm at the time, to make tennis shirts.

He designed a shirt with a ribbed collar and short sleeves with ribbed bands, made of a light knitted fabric that allowed sweat to evaporate quickly.

The famous alligator logo was inspired by Lacoste's nickname of 'the Alligator', to describe his tenacity on the court.

Classic pieces: Most people know Lacoste for its comfy mono-coloured polo T-shirts, such as this $139 model, made of knitted cotton.

On-trend picks: Bright and cheery sum up the latest collection, with colours such as lime green and burgundy taking centre-stage this fall/winter season. This $149 lime-green shirt has a handy breast pocket.

The brand has also started creating short-sleeved collarless shirts such as this $149 quirky patterned top with stripes.

Fred Perry

History: Created by three-time Wimbledon champ Fred Perry in 1940. Briton Perry served up tennis wear that was comfortable and easy on the eye, and partnered Austrian footballer Tibby Wegner to design a slim-fit cotton polo-tee that he wore in tournaments. The rest, as they say, is history.

Classic pieces: It has got to be the collared polo shirt with two stripes lining the sleeves and lapels. This black version costs $149. The brand is also famous for its mono-coloured cardigans, such as this navy-blue $189 number, which tennis players would don over polo tees.

On-trend picks: The polo shirt gets a makeover with this $149 cute grey number (Photo 11). Also upping the hip factor are designs such as bold horizontal stripes on this $159 polo tee.

Juicy Couture

History: In 1994, Gela Nash-Taylor (wife of Duran Duran singer John Taylor) and her pal Pamela Skaist-Levy, both residing in California, created a fashion label, Travis Pants, which sold maternity pants.

In 1996, the duo changed the name to Juicy Couture, as they wanted to create sexy, girly apparel that was well-made and stylish.

Classic pieces: A variety of athletic and casual wear including the velour tracksuit in colours like black, pink, purple and white. It was made famous by Hollywood stars like Eva Longoria, who frequently got snapped by the paparazzi going to the gym in these outfits. This bold purple tracksuit is $600.

On-trend picks: Gone are mono-colours. The designers have introduced bold graffiti prints on the front of tracksuit jackets. This cute $640 baby-pink suit manages to look edgy and cute at the same time.

Jackets flaunt eye-catching leopard prints, such as this $390 hoodie.

Juicy Couture has also created a line of trenchcoats that look high-street worthy, priced at $990.

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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