Track and Field, Customised Sportswear, 2003, Styling by Sarah Richardson, Photograph by Ali Peck.

The Blending of the Distinctions between Fashion and Sport

Variations on Sport, Vogue Italia, April 2005, Steve Hiett, © Steve Hiett/D&V/

Kish with his trainer collection, © Patricia Niven.

Hoody by DR ROMANELLI / NIKE FLUORESCENT collection, Picture by Max Wanger.


Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
+ 44 (0)20 7942 2000
Fashion v. Sport
August 5 2008-
January 4, 2009

This exhibition explores the creative connections between the two worlds of fashion and sport. Recent developments have seen an increasing number of collaborations and hybrids, from fashion designers producing collections with sportswear brands to sports personalities heading fashion campaigns or even designing their own collections. Fashion V Sport will reveal the complexities and tensions between the two industries.

Sportswear has become an essential part of the modern wardrobe. Trainers and tracksuits are often more readily worn than suits, and high performance textiles developed for competition are being integrated into high-end fashion. Fashion V Sport examines the way that sports styles are adapted to make fashion statements, both on the street and through high fashion, and how sports and fashion products are consumed, customised and worn.

Dare: Technical Innovation
Function and high performance are of primary concern in the design of sportswear. Companies invest a considerable amount of time and money into researching performance-enhancing garments and footwear.

Recently, fashion designers have integrated many of these technologies into their designs, often in direct collaboration with sports corporations. At the same time, sportswear has become increasingly fashionable and self-aware, often looking back at its own design history.

Display: Individuality and Uniformity
Sportswear or sports-inspired fashion may seem a uniform mode of dress. There is nothing more ubiquitous than a pair of trainers, a hooded jersey top and a pair of tracksuit bottoms. However, individuality is expressed through subtle differences and modifications. This section explores how homemade street adaptations - such as how laces are tied and adorned, or how tracksuits are worn - have inspired designers to reinterpret trainers and the tracksuit. It also looks at how the practice of customising has motivated the production of industrially customised goods sold by major sports companies.

Play: Exaggeration and Vibrancy
Sportswear first crossed over into casual wear because it was comfortable and affordable. Since then it has increasingly acquired its own sartorial language, one that is based on patterns and colours of performance sportswear but is often playful and highly exaggerated.

In manipulating the idea of sportswear, designers have pushed the boundaries of what trainers and sports clothes can look like. Witty, ironic and sophisticated, their work reflects the equally inventive customisation of sportswear that can be seen on the street.

Desire: Obsessive Behaviour
The area where fashion and sportswear coexist most comfortably is in the advertising and consumption of menswear and sport-related products. From case studies of a designer's obsession with football, via one-off, limited edition or cult design pieces, to expensive trainer and tracksuit collections, this section pinpoints the place in which sportswear's function has become almost redundant and instead its fashionability has become the key feature.


Stella McCartney for Adidas, Autumn/Winter 2008, Courtesy of Adidas.