Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Message For All Sportswear Designers

I like to think of myself as bit of a shopping expert.

I have many years of experience behind me. I read sales guides, subscribe to email newsletters, get to know the quirky hideaway boutiques. I mentally file catalogues in my head of where to find limited editions, sales items, colourways and styles. I know what I'm doing.

Plus, I did 20 months of hard-core training with the experts - Arabs and expats in Dubai, where shopping is a national hobby, shops are open until 10pm six days a week, and the entire four-week period between January 15 to February 15 is devoted to a much publicised, international event: The Shopping Festival (I'm serious), full of jawdropping bargains. So I reckon I know what I'm talking about.
And today, what I'm talking about is the fact that I HATE shopping for sportswear. HATE it.
Sportswear was the term originally used at the turn of the 1900's to describe clothes that were easy to care for, in washable fabrics, with accessible practical fastenings, that enabled the increasingly emancipated modern woman to dress herself without a maid's assistance. So important, that - especially these days of course, where we have no maids.
Now, I'm not referring to this kind of Michael Kors/Josh Goot/Zac Posen/Donna Karan type of sportswear designer. Those designers do not make the kind of gear I'm referring to.
I am referring to the kind of sportswear that you go to the gym and sweat copiously in. This is a message for the everyday Nike, Fila, Everlast, Russell Athletics, Rebel, Lorna Jane, Champion, Puma, Asic and Lonsdale kind of sportswear designer.
So, designers (please say that in a Tim Gunn-ish accent), designers, I have a revelation for you. Some of us normal people buy sportswear not because we are IN shape, amazing or otherwise, but because we in fact AREN'T in what you consider to be shape, judging by the state of your clothing options.  
Dear god! Amazing! Who knew! This must come as a complete surprise to you.
Because otherwise, why would the shops be filled with your horrifically tiny pieces of clothing that we have no desire to even try fitting into? Dear designers, some of us (and when I say some of us, I mean me) are Not At All Interested in running shorts that barely cover our butts. Some of us have chunky thighs that run in our family, and we wish to cover them up so that we are not too busy cringeing with humiliation to go to the gym at all.
Some of us are not pert 16-year-olds, and some of us are getting a bit prudish in our increasing old age. Some of us may have rounded tummies, and knee dimples, and saddlebags. We may not wish to wear your incredibly small scraps of fabric.  We may not wish to show off the crease between the back of our thigh and our arse. We may not wish to wear your awful skin-tight legging things that other women may love.

Some of us need a bit of extra help when it comes to workout gear so that we actually feel we CAN go to the gym and burn calories instead of just burning with shame.
Please, PLEASE start making things that might appeal to the getting-in-shape of us out there, rather than the I-go-to-bodycombat-everyday-and-have-buns-of-steel crowd. For goodness sake, you might even increase your customers that way, and heaven knows, maybe if we go to the gym in the gear you make that we feel comfortable in, perhaps as we begin to shape up we might even then graduate to something a little more .... streamlined!
I just don't understand why I can't buy knee-length shorts. I'd make them myself except I have no talent with stretchy fabrics like the stuff exercise shorts are made out of. What is wrong with doing a line of knee-length shorts that aren't skin tight??

So designers, here endeth the lesson. Things are in your hands now.


CurlyPops said...

Oh how I feel your pain. I do not wear anything that doesn't at least come down to my knee. The same exact thing has happened with board shorts over the last couple of years. The reason we like to wear boardshorts to swim is so that we can cover up!

Little Waltz said...

I actually share and understand this completely! I feel so self conscious going to the gym, doesn't help that all the women I see are all incredibly slim and have beautiful figures!

So I end up wearing long track pants and a huge Tshirt to cover up. Even when it's hot, it's better than having to cringe my way through a gym session.

Cathy (Tinniegirl) said...

Here, here sister! Maybe we can meet up at our local gym sometime and be dags together.

Finki (jay) said...

Right there with you girlfriend.
the company I just left devote my life to craft, based there whole range on this gap in the market that you speak of. Sounds terribly pluggy to link to it here, so i'll send you an email. But fear not, help is at hand.

Jennie said...

"Designers, gather 'round."

I'm going to spend the rest of the night saying things in my head in a Tim Gunn voice.

thornberry said...

I get my gym clothes at Target. There's some of the skimpy stuff but also plenty of alternatives. It mightn't be high fashion, but it meets my needs!
And Jay, I'd love to know which company you're talking about!

Isabella Golightly said...

Oh, I so hear your pain! I'm a less than petite 5'6" (168cm) size 18 (and don't you just hate in when you go into a shop & they so "Oh, I'm sure you'll fit into the 16, you don't look that big"... "Oh, it doesn't fit you? How strange") & I buy a lot of my clothes from LL Bean, via the internet. They don't seem to have any qualms about making just about everything available in big, bigger, best sizes, and the quality is excellent. I was even happy to go to the beach again wearing their excellent swimming shorts & top!

Polka Dot Rabbit said...

Oh yes I hear you, it's amazing how many sports clothes don't go past a size 16 (I'm an 18). Since we're evil obese people, you think folks would want us exercising! I usually end up wearing bonds, even though the yoga pants etc are far too long...

Vanessa said...

Amen to that sisters!!

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