From nowhere, as if from a dream, your favourite sports brands from yesteryear are making a much welcome return to the streets. And now, thanks to some high profile collaborations the world of sportswear has been given a high fashion upgrade.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Classic brands, specifically sportswear, have seen an unprecedented resurgence on the streets and on the runways. It’s difficult to say exactly when and what sparks the new phase of nostalgic fashion but it is likely a reaction to the hyper tailored and super self-aware fashion landscape of the early to mid-2000’s.
It was a different time and we were different people. An appreciation for style and grooming was on the rise, people were still using the word metrosexual and off the back of his angular, barely-there suits Thom Browne was one of the fashion industry’s hottest designers – even winning the CFDA menswear designer of the year in 2008. Fast forward a few years and we see full rebellion. The rise of streetwear and a more laid back, anything goes aesthetic sweeps across the timeline and with that comes the yearning for the casual classics of our adolescence.
As with all brands these days, the key to consumer hearts and pockets lies in the collaboration. No line worth its salt can go a season without joining forces with another brand, personality or designer to reinvent their identity. The nostalgic brands are taking note and following this blueprint. Champion, Kappa, Fila and others have gone from treasured memories to top of mind for a new breed of consumer, in part, thanks to high fashion makeovers.
Making a welcome return to its 90’s heyday, Champion is once again one of the most sought-after sportswear brands on the market – even receiving a Kardashian co-sign – and this was only the beginning. Part of Champion’s recent success has been a number of headline-grabbing capsules from streetwear heavyweights like Supreme and Undefeated to high fashion tastemaker Vetements. These capsules have not only raised the profile of the brand but shown its versatility in an overcrowded fashion landscape. Champion has reimagined itself beyond sportswear and established its fashion credentials. The brand is also reaping the financial rewards of this recent resurgence, with double-digit sales growth at the end of 2017.
Kappa, another old-time favourite has come storming back into the collective consciousness after a long period of inactivity. Like its sportswear counterpart, they have ridden he streetwear wave to all new heights. the specific segment of the streetwear market dubbed athleisure is where these brands are playing to great success.
One of the most exciting new faces in fashion is Gosha Rubchinsky. The Russian photographer turned designer and his eponymous label has, in recent years, taken its rightful position among streetwear’s most coveted properties. Along with the likes of Supreme and Palace, Gosha has redefined global culture and dictated trends. Relying heavily on Soviet iconography and maximalist streetwear silhouettes the brand has created a very specific aesthetic that has taken hold globally and counts Kanye West and A$AP Rocky as some of it’s staunchest supporters. This star appeal has legitimised the brand and with that success, they’ve been able to revive nostalgic favourites like Kappa and Fila – producing sell-out collaborations – and transform current favourites like Adidas into entrenched powerhouse brands with seemingly limitless clout.
Sweats beyond sweats and hoodies of high fashion. With celebrity endorsements and runway debuts, the biggest brands of old have made a much welcome return. Nostalgia is a powerful force on its own, but when paired with contemporary designers old an new fans get to experience the brands in a new way- instantly recognisable, yet refreshingly new.