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A Brief History of Activewear


When it comes to clothing, we’ve come a long, long way--activewear included. It’s something we all take for granted when we’re running around a track in shorts and tees made out of fabric specifically designed for the task, capable of wicking the sweat off your body and letting the air pass through freely. Our clothes work for us because someone designed them to. But it wasn’t always this way.

In ancient times, anyone who wanted to pump some iron or hit the field did so in their everyday clothing. Basically, your toga doubled as a business suit and gym clothes, given the lack of options. Pro athletes, like ancient olympians, left with no better alternative, played out their respective games in the nude.

Centuries later, sports and similar activities finally became a viable enough leisure pursuit that could be enjoyed by many, marked by the 1896 Olympics, in which athletes actually covered themselves up with pretty basic gear.

From the late 19th century on, the sartorial demands of the leisure class created a need in the market for specific clothing items. Tennis whites became a thing, swimmers required more water-worthy apparel. As the demands grew greater, the technology pushed forward. And a category that once appealed to very few, began to open up to the masses.

With the advancements in technology and fabrication that took place over the course of the 20th century, activewear has improved in utility and specificity. There was sportswear for cyclists, for basketball players, for wrestlers--and all remarkably improved upon what came before it. Modern sportswear might not be as efficient as running around naked, but each year gets closer and closer to feeling that way. Lucky for you... and everyone else. 

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