I have always been fascinated by the elegance of vintage tennis kit and American college sportswear,” says Gigi Boglioli, co-founder of The Gigi. He’s not alone: sportswear has had a defining role in luxury casualwear in recent years, with new genres evolving, including sports-luxe and athleisure. It stands to reason that vintage-sportswear-inspired menswear would eventually have its moment, given how much attention has been paid to reviving heritage brands and the styles of the 1960s and ’70s. Such old-school collegiate sports style appears in The Gigi’s bottle-green and yellow jersey cardigan (£330) with knitted ribbed facing and cuffs – evoking a streamlined Letterman cardigan, minus the letters. The brand’s double-breasted performance-polyester Ziggy jacket (£515) has generous, swept peak lapels, but its collar is striped and ribbed, just like the cuff of a vintage tracksuit. It looks both relaxed and suave.
This trend reinterprets vintage sports style in luxe fabrics and borrows classic motifs, including chevrons, zips, stripes and piping, for pieces. “I created a fusion of tailoring and tracksuit in response to customer demand,” says Boglioli. The brand’s tailored navy poly-jersey Angie jacket (£565) has a red striped tracksuit collar and patch pockets; think of it as an easy-to-wear, versatile track-blazer.
Ermenegildo Zegna’s Couture line further refines the paradigm; its lotus-pink and grey-white bomber (£4,870) in calfskin suede feels like an über-luxe tracksuit top, while the matching double-pleat trousers (£4,740) hang like tracksuit bottoms, though they are pink suede. Another blouson (£2,340) ups the luxe with a white, gold and terracotta silk combination. Such blousons take athleisure up a notch; I’d team them with wide white trousers or shorts, though they look strong with the brand’s bronze cuffed-bottom track-style trousers (£860) reinterpreted in silk.
Silvia Fendi’s graphic tracksuit-inspired blousons with chevrons reference 1980s windbreakers, but in lieu of rustling polyester there is sumptuous lambskin and goat leather. These striking upgrades come in navy and pink (£3,035), putty, blue and pink (£2,670), and a Prussian-blue/chocolate chevron (£1,745) in silk and goat leather that takes the ultimate laurels. Elsewhere, tracksuit-style zipped sweaters (£800) are emblazoned with motifs by the artist Sue Tilley in a fantastic reimagination of cult styles from 40 years ago. Chevrons can also be found at Valentino, on a putty and emerald-green leather jacket (£2,150) with popper fastenings and drawstring.
This striking graphic look might be a bit strong for some tastes, but there are plenty of options that give a more subtle nod to the trend. At Hermès, a teal and brown blouson (£2,280) in a new rubberised, leather-effect fabric called Toilbright has a sporty striped sleeve edged in white piping and a micro-herringbone pattern. Piping, this time in yellow, can also be found on a raglan-sleeve hooded blouson (£2,110) in bright green and dark khaki Toilbright. Similar detailing is on Kent & Curwen’s cotton/silk trousers (£215) – the amber side stripes evoke vintage cricket gear; the sharp crease says “old school slacks” but the fabric feels fresh and modern. Berluti’s take on the track trend is similarly crisp; black wool trousers (£1,060) are slickly executed with white piped side stripes, while the sky-blue trousers (£1,060) with white side stripes have a track and field-meets-cavalry feel. Meanwhile, at emerging brand What We Wear, a zip-up track top-cum-jacket (£240) chimes with the retro mood, but its neoprene fabric updates the look; its matching track pants (£130) are very smart.
It feels natural that a generation of designers who grew up in the sportswear revolution of the early 1980s should look to this genre for inspiration. Tracksuit culture has been a key part of their style evolution and now it has moved firmly into the luxury firmament.