New York–Would you like style with your sports or function with your fashion?
Sports and fashion have played off and influenced each other since the beginning of both pursuits. In fact, the term “sportwear” is actually utilized to define everyday clothing.
The Fashion and Textile History Gallery at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) explores this intricate relationship, analyzing how sports and fashion have evolved over the past 150 years with its current exhibit “Sporting Life.”
Featuring more than 100 garments and accessories, and addressing more than 16 sports, the show is organized thematically by sport with an introductory gallery on exercise and dance. Other sports include tennis, sailing, swimming, golfing, skating, skiing, motoring, biking, baseball, hunting and more.
Most designs can be put into historical and cultural context, such as a long, wool, split skirt from 1888 meant for women to remain modest while bicycling, or wool bathing suits from the same period.
Accessories do more than add visual adornment to a sports outfit; they often provide real function such as sun protection in the form of a floppy hat or water protection in the case of rubber boots. On the flip side, however, accessories worn for nothing more competitive than the “sport of fashion” still drew inspiration from athletic pursuits. Sporting Life features everything from sailor hats in the nautical category to Manolo Blahnik high-heeled boots inspired by hunting duck boots.
Sporting Life also highlights technological advances in fabrics, namely for swimwear, racewear and surfing, and illustrates how designers have incorporated them into their ready-to-wear. Neoprene is one such example, and the show exhibits how Donna Karan incorporated wetsuit material into her line.
The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, runs through November 5 in the Fashion and Textile History Gallery at The Museum at FIT; 7th Avenue at 27th Street. www.fitnyc.edu.