The Never-ending Story of the Tracksuit
Track is back! This is the brief history of the synthetic two-piece that’s always making a comeback.
THE STORY BEHIND IT
The tracksuit has played many roles and had love affairs with different subcultures and social circles over the six decades it’s been around. It’s the ultimate pre and post game attire for athletes, a standard set for hip-hop artists, and was once go-to loungewear for young socialites (and some of their mums). This year, the two-piece that we love to hate has resurfaced on the runways, in new shapes and contexts, as statement-making as ever.
The history of this item starts in the 1960s after synthetic materials like polyester and nylon had been invented and gained popularity. The tracksuit, which obviously is made to work out in, immediately turned into a must-have item for all professional – and lots of recreational – athletes. Then came the 70s and the days of disco, encouraging the world to dance, party and live more careless, casual, and laid-back lives. As a consequence, the garment left the track and entered the dancefloor – often in its original monochrome trouser-jacket set. With time, it evolved into shiny and sparkling jumpsuits but the casual tracksuit trend had come to stay.
When disco faded out of style in the early 80s, another subculture made the garment its own. Its comfort made hip-hoppers and break-dancers fall in love with it and the request for tracksuits in eye-catching prints, vivid colours, and light, breathable materials soared. Hip-hop's love for the tracksuit has remained strong over the years, yet it’s steadily lost ground as the fashion interests from younger generations of musicians have been more focused on luxury streetwear and skinny jeans than baggy tracksuits, XXL basketball jerseys and heavy chains. The tracksuit saw a decline in the 90s, but returned in a grand way around the millennium – when the young, rich and famous made it more popular than ever before.
The early 2000s belonged to reality television and the socialites who starred in them. The most famous of them all is Paris Hilton, who was (and still is) a hard core tracksuit fan. Her favourite is one in velour from Juicy Couture, and according to an interview she did with The Cut, she has enough Juicy tracksuits to last a lifetime.
Luckily for Paris (and the rest of us), the tracksuit is back! In 2016, the iconic item is trendier than ever before, now mainly drawing inspiration from 60s and 70s with zippers, racing stripes and popped-up collars. See and shop H&M Magazine’s curated list of tracksuits below!
The tracksuit is modelled by Danish beauty Camilla Christensen (Le Management). Lok Lau (CLM) did her hair, and Nina Belkhir (Mikas Looks) worked her makeup magic.