Get Threads magazine!

Subscribe Renew Give a Gift

MUSEUM EXHIBIT: "Sporting Life" at FIT

Christian Lacroix, beachwear ensemble, multicolor nylon/spandex, silk, metallic synthetic straw, plastic, metallic leather, 1990, France.
Gucci (Tom Ford), ski jacket, pink polyester/nylon/spandex, circa 1995, Italy, gift of Dorothy Schefer Faux.
Haas Brothers, two-piece dress, red and white cotton, circa 1894, USA.
Patagonia, “Super Alpine” parka and ski pants, blue nylon, black ripstop nylon, 1995, USA, gift of Patagonia, Inc. 
Norma Kamali, tunic and knickers, gray cotton knit, 1981, USA, gift of Oscar de la Renta.
Gym suit, blue cotton twill, 1896, USA.
Christian Lacroix, beachwear ensemble, multicolor nylon/spandex, silk, metallic synthetic straw, plastic, metallic leather, 1990, France.

Christian Lacroix, beachwear ensemble, multicolor nylon/spandex, silk, metallic synthetic straw, plastic, metallic leather, 1990, France.

Photo: Courtesy of the Museum at FIT

Anyone who enjoys wearing casual clothes will enjoy the current exhibit at the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), "Sporting Life." It explores the relationship between active sportswear and fashion from the mid-19th century through the present.

Oftentimes garments for sporting activities have influenced fashion—and vice versa. In fact, much of today's active sportswear is just as fashionable as it is functional. The exhibit features more than 100 garments, accessories, and textiles representing 16 sports, and reviews the history of active wear over the past 150 years, examining the changes in silhouette, construction, and technology that have improved the performance and aesthetic of active sportswear. The exhibit also juxtaposes active sportswear garments with ready-to-wear styles that they have inspired.

The exhibit covers the clothing worn in all types of sports, from swimming to hunting, from bicycling to tennis, from skiing to baseball, and just about every other sport that's been popular over the years.

Some synthetic materials most often utilized in active sportswear are being used increasingly in fashion garments—neoprene, for instance, a fabric commonly used in clothing for sufing and aquatic sports. The exhibit features a neoprene wetsuit alongside a sporty 1994 Donna Karan dress, also made of neoprene. This is just one example of many that show the influence and of fabrics and fashion from one genre to the other.

The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion.  The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Admission to the museum is open to the public at no charge.

If you have the opportunity to visit this exhibit, please share your experience with the rest of us.


amm April M. Mohr, contributor
Posted on Jun 7th, 2011 in sewing, design, fabric, fashion

Comments (4)

RosemaryFanti RosemaryFanti writes: Oh, the Norma Kamali grey sweat pant and top was my first "designer splurge" back in 1981! Then I went to New York and graduated from F.I.T. I wore that outfit until it finally, literally, wore out! Norma Kamali was, and continues to be, a great influence with my design and illustration work:))
Posted: 9:51 pm on June 10th

racu racu writes: I'm going to NY in two weeks, so I'll try to visit the exhibit. Thanks for the tip!
Posted: 2:59 pm on June 8th

BarbaraSki BarbaraSki writes: As a cowboy(girl) action shooter, I have to dress pre-1900 during competitions. A group of us ladies made Victorian Bathing Costumes to wear. The pattern includes a comment that women didn't really swim during that era b/c the wool ensembles were so heavy when wet, they'd probably sink if they tried! We made ours in cotton to survive the hot summers in the Carolinas!
Posted: 2:45 pm on June 8th

LaurieDiane LaurieDiane writes: Thanks so much for the article. When one is not able to get to New York to see these wonderful exhibits it is nice to at least see some of it represented here. I'll go to their website and see if they will show us more of the exhibit online. Or perhaps there is a traveling one that will come to our city.
Posted: 9:39 am on June 8th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.