An interesting commercial phenomenon of recent years is the way in which clothing apparel has copied sportswear. Hitherto, the wearing of tracksuits or jogging suits was confined to those practising sports. However partly because of the higher profile accorded to athletes and sports people via television, consumers began themselves to buy sports clothes for leisure wear. Research and investment by shoe companies, particularly Nike and Adidas, undoubtedly improved the quality of athletes’ footwear and introduced the running shoe or ‘trainer’. The companies used various new materials and technology to, for example, correct pronation and supination and to protect joints. They also pruned their production costs by building factories in Asia and spent fortunes on sponsorship and advertising. As these shoes were both lightweight and comfortable, they became popular with consumers in general. This has meant that the sale of conventional leather shoes has declined, as that of sports shoes has risen.
   Sports clothing tends to be bought more by young males (47.8 percent); however, 27.9 percent of all adults bought trainers and 17.7 percent bought track suits in 1994. Even in the age group 55–64, 14.1 percent bought tracksuits (cloned briefly as ‘shell suits’). A feature of Britain’s supermarkets is the number of overweight people in trainers and jogging suits pushing shopping trolleys around the store as quickly as they can so they can get outside for a cigarette.
   Formerly British clothes were discreet in terms of colours and attribution (a small label inside the collar at the rear). Clothes with logos displayed on the breast pocket of, shirts and pullovers then became popular. These included those of Fred Perry (tennis), Pringle (golf ), Ron Hill (running). A striking feature of the high street now is that much of the clothing that people wear is bright and has got large writing on it. That applies to general designer-wear such as Tommy Hilfiger or Helly Hansen, but this trend has come from sportswear where purchasers are practically walking advertising hoardings for: Nike, Umbro, Adidas, Asics, Fila and so on. The baseball cap is also becoming as universal in Britain as it is in the USA, though the influence here is partly sport, partly homage to America.
   Further reading
    Hebdidge, D. (1979) Subculture: The Meaning of Style, London: Routledge (seminal text about the signification of clothes and youth cultural practices).

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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