By James Brooks

We take sportswear for granted nowadays to the point where only a fraction of the clothing made by the big sportswear manufacturers is actually bought for performing athletic activities. Walk into a modern sports retailer and you’ll see hundreds of types and brands of trainers, tops, caps and trousers (and the occasional pair of shorts) that will probably never see a running track, football field or baseball diamond.

So it’s fair to conclude that sportswear is now so ingrained in our modern fashion sensibility that we hardly notice it any more, even when we are wearing it. Most of us own a pair of trainers as a comfortable way of getting from A to B on foot. While trainer purists will argue about the stitching and number of eyelets until doomsday, the rest of us will pull a half decent pair off the shelf, try them and buy them, taking care to leave our old pair on top of a bin somewhere public.

It’s tempting to think ‘sportswear as everyday wear’ as something dating back to the 1980s, with the ‘Scally’ look that emanated from Liverpool (city and football club) after their tours of Europe. For sure, this look did start a trend that spread to Manchester and then nationally, partly influenced by football moving about throughout the season. And briefly, it was the height of fashion.


But let’s not forget that classic 50s and 60s male college fashion in the USA is largely divided between the sporty ones (often called jocks) and the intellectual or nerdy ones, especially when given the Hollywood treatment. Think of any film containing a 1950s college, and you’re sure to see at least one baseball jacket, but usually a group of mischief-makers wearing identical jackets bearing an admirable display of sewing skills. And they always get their comeuppance at the end, preferably with a truckload of manure. And wasn’t there a time in the 1920s when a pair of plus fours was the trouser to be seen in, on and off the greens?

Something about sportswear triggers certain emotions in men. Perhaps it’s a desire to show off their masculinity, or maybe it’s a sigh at what could have been. It shows allegiance to a clan, too, just as much as being an emo or a punk does. And although team football shirts are not seen quite as much as they were a decade ago, match day in any major city will produce thousands of walking billboards for the teams’ sponsors.

Retro sportswear could be the perfect compromise between maintaining a sporty air and not looking too much like a latter-day jock. Because of the rich history of sporty casual-wear, there’s plenty to choose from in most vintage clothing stores, much of which evokes a period when sport was less commercialised, less aggressive and played for the love of the game or the badge. The names and the logos of the top brands might have changed little over three or four decades, but a little retro sportswear in the wardrobe will tell the world that you’re a man who love s his sport, if not all the hype that comes with it.

About the Author: James is a sports fan at heart and his fashion taste has a similar direction. A classic t-shirt or jacket from a

mens retro sportswear

range can look very cool. Many of these sports wear items are now highly sought after in

vintage clothing

stores and James helps us understand why.


Permanent Link: