Too cool for school

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A collection of Fila clothes on display

Fila Collection. Copyright V&A images, Victoria & Albert Museum

Back in 1984 all the coolest boys at my school would spend their time practising the windmill and body popping to Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. They idolised Turbo and Ozone from Breakdance (remember the Tour de France scene with the broom?), Beat Street and local crew Broken Glass. They wore Nike Windrunner jackets, Fila BJ tracksuits, Lacoste and Fred Perry t-shirts. There were more trainers than I can remember – from Puma California to Adidas Samba, Bamba, Mamba, Trimm Trab, Forest Hills, Palermo, Corsica and Tenerife. The highlight of any school disco would be a highly anticipated uprock between two of the best poppers. To this day I still get a little flutter when I see a Fila sign. 

When Fashion V Sport opened at the Walker, the memories came flooding back, and it got me thinking about all those brands and clothes - how they still resonate with my particular generation, and what sort of clobber kids get excited about nowadays. So we’ve set up a Flickr group – Metro V Retro – where you can upload, post and reminisce about your sports casual gems or tell us about a future classic. If you’ve got something great in your wardrobe, we’d love you to share it – whether it is a cutting edge release, or a retro design.

As fortune would have it, Fashion V Sport also coincides with the Adidas ‘60 years of soles and stripes’ campaign for which they produced this fantastic TV commercial. It’s a powerful combination of an amazing soundtrack (Pilooski mix of Beggin’ by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), a plethora of celebs including Method Man, Katy Perry, Estelle, The Ting Tings, DMC (of Run DMC), Missy Elliot and David Beckham, and of course some very cool trainers.

At the same time, an edgy new movie called ‘Awaydays’ is drawing on the earlier influence of the 80s casuals scene (which is widely thought to have originated in Liverpool) set against a backdrop of football rivalry and violence. I recently saw an interview with the wardrobe advisor for the film who talked about how difficult it was to source all of the gear. So if you’ve got something special, keep hold of it. It could well be in demand in years to come.