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Fashion V Sport

A man in a striped suit with a bicycle.

Dashing Tweeds Cycle Suit © Guy Hills/Victoria and Albert Museum London

13 February 2009 to 31 May 2009

This exhibition is now closed

This stylish exhibition on tour from London's Victoria and Albert Museum, explored the relationship between contemporary fashion and global sportswear brands over the last 20 years. Around 50 outfits and 120 objects were on display, including contemporary sportswear, streetwear, accessories and shoes.

Divided into four sections, Dare, Display, Play and Desire, the exhibition guided you through a range of styles, outfits and objects to reveal the factors which interlink fashion and sport.

Dare looked at contemporary fashions and how sportswear is often seen as an essential part of the modern wardrobe. Display and Play highlighted the street as the most crucial space where sportswear is worn as fashion. Desire featured examples of advertising campaigns for fashion brands, including sports personalities such as David Beckham and David James modelling for Armani.

The exhibition showed how designers such as Stella McCartney collaborate with well-known sports brands like adidas and illustrates sportswear's popularity as a fashion statement. It also gave an insight into how designers such as Dries van Noten and Vivienne Westwood have reworked original sportswear staples such as the grey jersey tracksuit, redefining them as high-end must-have fashion items.

Exhibition organised by the V&A, London


A woman in a wet suit

Speedo LZR Racer with Commes des Garcons print. Modelled by Natalie Coughlin, image courtesy of Speedo

Technological innovation

Dare looks at contemporary fashions and how sportswear is rated highly as an essential part of the modern wardrobe.

Function and high performance are of primary concern in the design of sportswear. Companies invest a great amount of time and money into researching performance-enhancing garments and footwear.

Recently, fashion designers have integrated many of these technologies into their designs, often by collaborating with sports corporations. At the same time, sportswear has become increasingly fashionable and self-aware, often looking back at its own design history.

In this section you can see:

  • a sequined cocktail 'wetsuit' by Chanel
  • a running outfit by Stella McCartney for adidas
  • a UniQT football kit designed for Cameroon's national team.


Three models in bright hooded jackets

Dr Romanelli jacket, photo by Max Wanger

Individuality and uniformity

Display highlights the street as the most crucial space where sportswear is worn as fashion.

Sportswear or sports-inspired fashion may seem a uniform type of dress. Lots of people wear trainers with a hooded jersey top and tracksuit bottoms. However, individuality is expressed through subtle differences and changes.

This section explores how homemade street adaptations - such as how laces are tied and decorated or how tracksuits are worn - have inspired designers to reinterpret trainers and the tracksuit. The practice of customising has motivated major sports companies to produce commercially customised goods.

In this section you can see:

    • a top, trousers and mask by Vivienne Westwood
    • Nike 'Curry Dunk' high-top trainers, customised by I-Saw using a technique called 'engraviti'
    • double-tongued All Star trainers by Converse


A man surrounded by lots of bright trainers

Kish with his trainer collection © Patricia Niven/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Obsessive behaviour

Desire uncovers the world of sportswear obsessives.

From a designer's obsession with football, via one-off, limited edition or cult design pieces, to expensive trainer and tracksuit collections, this section explores how sportswear's function has become almost redundant. Instead, its style has become the key feature.

In this section you can see:

  • a large collection of trainers, collected over a period of twenty years, all belonging to Kish (above)
  • an original manga comic strip featuring a football-obsessed
    Japanese boy and his team, created by Yoichi Takahashi
  • Air Force 1 25th anniversary special edition trainers by


Two little boys holding skate boards

Skaters2/Two boys with skateboards © Vanessa Oguchi /Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Exaggeration and re-invention

Play traces the customisation of sports fashion and shows how the creativity of customisers has been embraced by global superbrands.

Sportswear first crossed over into casual wear because it was comfortable and affordable. Since then it has developed its own look, based on patterns and colours of performance sportswear but often exaggerated.

In playing with the idea of sportswear, designers have pushed the boundaries of what trainers and sports clothes can look like. Witty, ironic and sophisticated, their work reflects the equally inventive customisation of sportswear that can be seen on the street.

In this section you can see:

  • a jumper and trousers by Vivienne Westwood
  • a snowboarding suit by Burton and KidRobot
  • 'Adicolor Green Series Century' trainers by
    Emilio Pucci for adidas