The tracksuit has become an absolutely must-have basic item in everyone's closet. This iconic combo of matching sports jackets and trousers has taken over across the board in fashion. Once a purely functional garment, now anything from loungewear to the highest of luxuries. The Clan De Banlieue tracksuit is a staple of our brand, we take great care in upholding the history and legacy of the tracksuit. So let's take a look at the journey of the tracksuit throughout time. Where exactly did the tracksuit come from? How has the tracksuit evolved and gone on to become one of the most classic uniforms of our time?
The Origin Of The Tracksuit: Adidas and Bruce Lee
The origins of the tracksuit officially date back to the 1930’s, 1939 to be precise. Only it wasn't initially called a tracksuit, it was actually deemed 'The Sunday Suit' by its original creator, the French sports company Le Coq Sportif. It was created with one purpose in mind and one purpose alone, and that was to ensure that the body would keep warm before and after physical exercise. As such, its function was purely practical, and it was worn almost exclusively by athletes.
Still, it wasn't until the 60s that the tracksuit became widely known, and it was only in the 70s that we saw the two-piece combo beginning to infiltrate the fashion industry. So what was it that catapulted the tracksuit front stage and centre in society?
Adidas and Franz Beckenbauer: A Match Made In Heaven
Unsurprisingly, the tracksuit was originally popularised by renowned multinational corporation Adidas. Back in 1967 when it was but a tiny business, Adidas created its first item of clothing. Said item was, you guessed it, a tracksuit. Released in collaboration with German football superstar at the time, Franz Beckenbauer. This tracksuit donned the iconic triple stripes on tracksuit material, and it marked the first endorsement of its kind. Who would've known back then that not only were Adidas and Beckenbauer the blueprint for the beaming market of sports endorsements, they were also responsible for designing one of the most iconic fashion items ever created? So iconic in fact, it has stood the test of time and become a timeless style, that is more relevant today than ever.
Bruce Lee Brings Tracksuits To The Screen
Fast forward to the early 70s, Bruce Lee enters the scene and becomes a key person in the history of the tracksuit by wearing one on the TV show Longstreet. After all, his red two-piece tracksuit was the first to ever appear in primetime US TV. Later on, in 1979, we witnessed the beginning of an era, when for the film Game of Death he donned the emblematic yellow one-piece tracksuit with a black stripe running down the side. This tracksuit would soon become Lee's trademark garment, as well as go on to inspire Tarantino's vision for the unforgettable outfit in Kill Bill: Volume 1. You know exactly what we're talking about.
Together with the fact that jogging and mountain climbing became popular, as well as a general public interest in personal fitness, the reach of tracksuits began to expand.
The Tracksuit And Hip-Hop
At this point, the tracksuit had entered the sight of society all across the globe. It had become a staple in the sports industry and transitioned into the world of film and TV. Then, in 1986, something happened that changed the trajectory of the tracksuit forever. Run-DMC dropped "My Adidas".
Although the song was about sneakers, the crew wore Adidas tracksuits, and the booming buzz around the song led the sports giant to offer the rapper a $1.5m dollar endorsement deal. This marked the beginning of an era, an era where tracksuits became one of hip-hop's most emblematic uniforms. And most of all, an era where collaborations between hip-hop artists and sports brands would completely dominate street culture.
Moving On To Today: The Tracksuits' Journey From The Streets To The Runway
During the 80s, the tracksuit became synonymous with the streets, with the working class, and the disenfranchised. The tracksuit has also been wrongly politicised. Exploiting its proliferation among the working classes, oftentimes the tracksuit was associated with violence and crime. Possibly due to football hooliganism at the time. Nevertheless, while it is true that mid 90s mobsters such as US mafia boss Mr John Angelo "Junior" Gotti were known for wearing tracksuits, it is ludicrous to profile someone for wearing a tracksuit.
It wasn't until the mid-2000s that the tracksuit would enter the scene as a completely mainstream thing. To the point that one could not spend a day without seeing a velvety juicy-esque tracksuit. Tracksuits then became popular among the rich and famous, with anyone and everyone from Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan wearing them.
It seems that for a decade or two, tracksuits faded into oblivion, at least for those who weren't involved in sports. Then came the pandemic, and tracksuits came back in full force. They became, quite literally, the global uniform.
Source: Balenciaga Spring 2022
Now it's true that a little before the pandemic hit, tracksuits were increasing in demand once again. Largely due to the rising popularity of 'athleisure' clothing. Then we were forced to stay home for months on end, and when we were finally free, many did not wish to give up the daily comfort of wearing tracksuits all day every day. Consequently, the tracksuit evolved once again, and can now be seen combined with jewellery or more formal wear. Big brands caught on, and soon we saw the big couture firms such as Moschino, Dior, or Louis Vuitton rush to collaborate with street brands such as Supreme, Stüssy, and Palace. Once brands that would have been snubbed by the fashion elite, now the elite can't get enough.
The Tracksuit Is Everywhere
It is safe to say that the tracksuit is no longer reserved for sports or the streets. In a way, this classic two-piece combo has developed a universality, matched by few other fashion garments. The tracksuit is for everyone. The tracksuit is everywhere.