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A Review of Sportswear

Pranta Biswas



Sportswear also known as Active-wear is the clothing which is suitable for wearing while taking exercises during sports time. These clothes are designed in such a way that it gives maximum comfort to the consumers during active period. It consists of separate pieces that may be “mixed and matched,” a merchandising term meaning that articles of clothing are designed to be coordinated in different combinations: trousers or shorts or skirts with shirts (either woven or knit, with or without collars, long-sleeved or short) and sweaters (either pullovers or cardigans) or jackets of a variety of sorts. The global market for sportswear is tremendously booming because of the rising participation in fitness and sports activities, among the people of all ages.

Relation to sports:

Active sports uniforms and clothing grew out of necessity. Players needed protection from bodily harm in contact sports like football, hockey, cricket etc.; they also needed to let the body breathe and enable it to move as easily and freely as possible while performing the sport. sportswear concerns the fashionable aspect of clothing for sport rather than the athletic. Comfort is the main reason for the influence of sportswear on every day and leisure wear. sportswear has other features such as durability, strength, stretch ability, elastic recovery, abrasion resistance, tear resistance, color fading, body odor resistance and UV resistance, which make sportswear irreplaceable for the consumers in sport purpose. Individual items such as jerseys, sweaters, and turtlenecks came directly out of active sports. Certain jackets also became linked with sports and therefore sportswear.

Historical Background:

Sportswear can be called the contribution of America in the world of fashion. It is hard to believe that, in the 1920s, sportswear was the term used to describe the comfortable and casual clothes of women which are worn to watch spectator sports. In the mid of 1970s, Bruce Lee was credited for bringing the classic stretchy tracksuit into mainstream fashion. Suddenly it became fashion to wear athletic tracksuits in polyester, cotton, terrycloth and velour for wearing during casual activities.

After that, in 1985 Richard Martin put on an exhibition on sportswear at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in which sportswear was described as “an American invention, an American industry and an American expression of style”. For Martin, American sportswear was an expression of various mainly middle-class aspects of American culture, including health ideals, the concept of democracy, ideas of comfort and function, and innovative design which might refer to historical concepts or leisure attributes.

Pre-Twentieth Century Sportswear

The origins of sportswear, so intimately tied to the rise of sports, are complex, arising from pervasive social change and cultural developments in the mid-nineteenth century. Previously, sport had been the domain of the landed well-to-do, revolving mostly around horses, shooting, and the hunt. Clothing generally was modified fashion wear, but distinctions between the clothing of the country and of town had appeared as early as the eighteenth century. Fox or stag hunting called for skirted coats and high boots to protect the legs, and for trim tailoring that would not hamper the rider maneuvering rough terrain and the new fences that were an outcome of the British Enclosure Acts (1760-1840). These acts, by transferring common grazing lands to private holdings, resulted in fences never needed before, thereby adding new challenges to cross-country riding and revolutionizing the sport of hunting.

Twentieth Century

Fabrics have played an important role in the development of active sportswear. As with sheer knits at the turn of the twentieth century, so too did stretch fabrics form a second skin shaving seconds off time in competition. From the introduction of Lastex in the 1930s to the spandex of the twenty-first century, clothing for active sports has reflected the attention to sleek bodies, to speed. Speedo, the Australian swimwear company, first introduced its one-piece stretchy suit in the 1950s. From that time on, swimwear became sleeker, tighter but more comfortable because of the manufactured stretch fibers. The concept proved irresistible for men and women in all active sports: new stretch textiles produced ski pants in the 1930s fashioned with stirrups to anchor the sleek lines, bicycle shorts in the 1970s, all-in-one cat suits for skiing, sledding, sailing, speed skating, even running in the 1980s and 1990s. With the biannual Olympic publicity, the new active suits, shorts, and tops found their way into active sportswear and onto athletic bodies everywhere. Even the nonathletic wanted the look, pressing fashion-wear manufacturers to adopt the tight-fitting yet comfortable clothing that technology had made possible.

Top Brands for Sportswear

The sportswear world is minting gold. There are more than a few hundred sportswear brands on the global stage, where the leading brands are –

  1. Obermeyer

downloadSport Obermeyer Ltd. was founded by Klaus F. Obermeyer in 1947 and is based in USA. It designs and manufactures authentic skiwear and sportswear for men, women, teens, and kids. The company offers its products through dealers and online retailers. Sports products include ski jackets, shells, coats, ski suits, down jackets, vests, ski pants, stretch pants, suspender pants, bib pants, soft shells, insulators, wind shirts, sweaters, fleece, Zip-T’s, turtlenecks and accessories.

  1. Nike

nike_png19Founded in 1964, Nike has become the style of American youth generation.  Its net income is US$3.273 billion (as of 2015). Nike produces a wide range of sports equipment though its first product was track running shoes.It has contracted with more than 700 shops around the world and has offices located in 45 countries outside the United States. From its inspiring tagline ‘Just Do It’ to its exquisite range of multi-bestseller sports equipment – Nike is indeed ruling the roost.

  1. Montbell

company-199-logoFounded in 1975, Montbell Co. Ltd is an outdoor equipment and clothing Japanese company, offering “Light & Fast” products to outdoor enthusiasts. It is known for introducing feather light yet sweater warm down jackets and world patented stretchy sleeping bags to wilderness lovers around the world. Montbell strive to create more than just products. It received both the BACKPACKER Magazine’s “2014 Editor’s Choice Award” and the BACKPACKER Magazine’s “2015 Editors’ Choice Snow Award”

  1. Adidas

adidas_png9Founded in 1924, Adidas is a German wunderkind of sportswear started. Their distinct style statements alone have set them on the path of success. Its net income was €0.7 billion in 2015. From leggings, jackets, pants, hoodies, and t-shirts to its lucrative forays onto FIFA’s sacred fields, Adidas has made itself truly memorable. Catering also to cricket, basketball, lacrosse, golf, tennis, gymnastics, skateboarding, running, and the ‘newly’ recognized Kabbadi, the brand has spread its roots far and wide; and then some.

  1. Volcom

download-1Founded in 1991 by Richard “Wooly” Woolcott and Tucker “T-Dawg” Hall, Volcom is a lifestyle brand that offers a full range of performance and lifestyle products for men, women and kids. It is an original, American board-sports brand and is one of the few in the space that has been able to grow while maintaining its core values. Volcom was the first action sports company to create a record label, Volcom entertainment, in 1995.

  1. Under Armour

1200px-under_armour_logo-svgWith a name as strange as it is catchy, founded in 1996, Under Armour has stamped its competence in making casual and sports apparel and footwear. But time seems no bar for this brand, whose net income of US$232,573,000 (as of 2015) proves that it aims to catch up with the big boys. Besides, Under Armour has proudly entered the sports world of American-based soccer, basketball, and football.

  1. PUMA

puma-logo-png-download-puma-logo-png-images-transparent-gallery-advertisement-500Founded in 1948 by the brother of the man who created Adidas (namely Adolf Dassler), puma is the 2nd largest sportswear brand of Germen. Displaying a revenue figure like €3.387 billion (as of 2015), the brand has shown its goal of reaching the top of the success-ladder. Besides producing products for all fields, it has also seen success while sponsoring footballers as well as football teams.

  1. Northface

600px-thenorthface_logo-svgFounded in 1968, this American brand has shown a wonderful rise in the sportswear ranks. From sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks to outerwear galore – shirts, coats, fleece, shoes – Northface has climbed the mountain to greatness in the sportswear. While little is revealed of its net income, its popularity across the world hints at it being a several-million-dollar outdoor products company.

  1. Columbia Sportswear:

download-2Columbia Sportswear was founded by German Jews fleeing the wave of Nazi nationalism, in 1938. It is a popular sportswear brand dealing with footwear and outwear. Because of being one of the most affordable products on the market, compared to other bigger brands, its demand is rising. It hauls in a net revenue of US$2.1 billion (as of 2014).

  1. ASICS

3a3012ddfda39c02152db7559226a596-asics-running-shoes-running-shoes-for-menFounded in 1949, the Japanese company has grown in products, excellence and fame. With a net income of ¥10.2 billion (as of December 2015), ASICS is renowned for its health-oriented goals as a company.  Japanese in origin ‘Ashikkusu’ soon began to be recognized ASICS, has done quite well for itself. In fact, they have replaced Adidas as the official kit manufacturer for the Australian Cricket Team.

Global Market

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, “sportswear” describes a broad category of fashion-oriented comfortable “Active sportswear”. According to a new report, with increasing demand for fashionable and trendy sportswear, the global sports merchandise retail market size will reach $36 billion by 2024 from $21 billion. The manufacturers are launching innovative products to fulfil the need of the consumers.

As a result, a new opportunity has opened up for Bangladesh, the world’s second largest garment exporter only after China. More than 10 percent of the total $30.62 billion worth of garment items exported from Bangladesh in the last fiscal year, was sportswear garment items


The world of sportswear is a profitable one indeed, as long as there are consumers’ eager to pursue fitness and sportswear. The combination of comfort and fashion is the major challenge in the sportswear market.

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