The last time I had contact with a tube sock was sometime in 1989. I was in Grade 9—the last year I was compelled to take gym class. It would fall under the category of extravagant understatement to say that I was not athletically gifted, and it still seems to me that not having to play team sports is one of the major upsides of getting older. So, as soon as gym class was no longer obligatory, I dropped it and fled the other way, at suddenly Olympian velocity.
Today, beholding a tube sock—the madeleine of middle school—still prompts a Proustian montage of fear, lanyards and bad gymnasium lighting. Fair to say, then, that this season’s celebration of haute sportswear is not my (gym) bag. But my childhood experiences with sports, especially the team variety, did provide me with much training in the art of play-meets-public spectacle. It’s a talent I appear to be honing tonight as I take the designer athletic trend for a spin—decked out in fresh-from-the-runway Marni—on game night at Toronto’s Real Sports Bar & Grill.
Sportswear took to the shelves in America during the Great Depression—a time when people began to prize utility over fuss and ornament. Fashion historian Rebecca Arnold wrote that it’s been “mythologized as an expression of American national identity—as practical, rational and authentic.” This season’s “activewear,” however, provides a swift kick to the practical and the rational, adding fancy and glamour to sporty lines and energetic colour. Read more »