By a peculiar alignment of the stars, two major events are taking place simultaneously this week: the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, running from 6-13 February, and the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia from 7-23 February. Far from being worlds apart, sport and fashion are increasingly converging. Sport chic rules the runways at major fashion galas, while fashion is fast becoming a new form of competition at sport spectacles. Can fashion can be sporty and sustainable at the same time?
Gone are the days when sportspeople – with the rare exception of figure-skaters and gymnasts – did not care much about fashion, and when sportswear was of little interest to the fashion world. Nowadays, designers and athletes are teaming up to bring glamour and fashion to the games, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics are no exception. Here, it is Armani for Italy, Lacoste for France, and Ralph Lauren for Team USA.
One of my favourite designer outfits for sporting events was Stella McCartney’s team GB uniforms at the 2012 London Olympics. Dubbed the “most stylish Olympic kit ever”, the Union Jack-inspired collection featured 590 articles suited to 46 sporting activities. However, its launch was marred by controversy that the kits had been produced by Adidas in sweatshop conditions.
Russia’s own sustainable luxury designer Vika Gazinskaya, who eschews fur and leather in her creations, is also partial to sporty chic with her trademark baseball caps and trainers. In this photo, she looks perfectly dressed for a hit of tennis at the Hamptons.
And how can one forget the Speedo fastskin swimsuits turned eveningwear? Following a ban of full-body swimsuits from sporting events, the company was left with a pile of surplus stock, which was transformed into unique dresses by the sustainable fashion label From Somewhere and presented at Estethica, British Fashion Council’s ethical fashion segment at the 2010 London Fashion Week.
As the sports world is becoming more fashionable, it is my wish that it moves ‘faster, higher, stronger’ towards sustainable fashion and that it embraces the Olympic values of fair play and excellence when it comes to sportswear. And that, certainly, would be going for gold!