Gym Wear: This Or That?

For those hours preceding treadmill and weights or drinks with workout mates after, there’s Gucci-garish or Nike-natty


Gucci vs Nike 2.jpgThe flash and the dash of Gucci (left) and Nike (right)

The tracksuit has not been confined to a stadium for as long as many of us can remember or when people no longer feel awkward wearing running shorts and singlets in city streets or mall corridors. In fact, not many remember that the tracksuit is also known as the warm-up suit, a two-piece athletes wear over competition clothes before or after the contest. Now, the tracksuit is, more than ever before, an article of fashion.

These days, we do acknowledge that many people are more likely to wear tracksuits for a flight to wherever than for a match with whoever, to a class lecture than to a fitness class, to dance in than to keep warm in. Lines are indeed smeared. No other brand has demonstrated the tracksuit’s momentousness than Gucci.

In their latest offering of ‘activewear’, Gucci styles their track suits on models with jewellery and shod the girls with high heels. Although the category of clothing is made clear, the double-G-logoed tracksuit’s use and to where it would be worn to appear to have little to do with athletic performance. The ’80s vibe is unmistakable, which is a throwback to the early days of hip-hop when the likes of Missy Elliott’s tracksuits now seem the antithesis of Nicki Minaj’s boobs-baring, rear-showing fashion nothingness.

Conversely, Nikelab, an off-shoot of Nike and an ardent collaborator with designers such as Jun Takahashi of Undercover and Chitose Abe of Sacai, presents tracksuits that have performance cred first, followed closely by sartorial finesse. These are such sharp outerwear that you would be tempted to team them with, say, a shirt dress, or, for guys, a work shirt, even on non-workout days. Clothes with technical cred do crossover well to everyday garb.

Gucci vs Nike

The attention-seeking Gucci (left) and performance-enhancing Nike (right)

The irony is that Gucci calls their track tops “technical jersey jackets”technical referring to the fabric, a heavy polyester/cotton knit, rather than the construction of the garment. Fabric-wise, tracksuits have always been made of polyester or poly-blend. If we define “technical” fabrics as those that afford functional benefit, then these tracksuits are “technical” because polyester can provide warmth, and is also wrinkle-resistant. Sure, “technical” now goes into every category of clothing, from socks to sleepwear, but do we need “technical” threads as #OOTD for IG followers and fellow club-goers?

In the case of Nikelabs ACG Gor-Tex Deploy jacket seen here, technical is the fabric, the construction, and the make. It’s technical all-round, even the zips—they are water-repellent—which perhaps qualifies the Deploy to be branded as All-Conditions Gear (ACG), a line very much loved by athletes/outdoor types who are also fashion-conscious, such as Mr Takahashi, the instigator with Nikelab for the Gyakusou running line. As Nike explained, ACG is “designed with Acronym (the Munich-based design agency) founder Errolson Hugh” and it “embodies his form-follows-function ethos”. Nike does not mention style, but style does set Nikelab apart, so much so that the sub-brand has its own boutique-like store (such as the one in the trendy Tokyo district of Aoyama) or dedicated corners in all Dover Street Markets.

In the more and more indiscriminate pool we call fashion, wearing occasion/activity-specific clothing is perhaps no longer important. If we don’t dress differently when going to Toa Payoh Central and ION Orchard, perhaps there really is not need to differentiate Gucci’s gaudy homage to black culture from Nike’s dedication to outdoor sports.

Gucci GG technical jersey jackets, SGD2,640 (pictured, bottom) are available at Gucci stores and Nikelab ACG Gore-Tex Deploy jacket, SGD829, is available at Nikelab corner can be found in Dover Street Market Singapore. Photos: Gucci and Nike respectively