Tracksuits—Like These Worn by Run-DMC—Are Again in Model

THE TRACKSUIT IS a very impressive piece of clothing. For many music fans, the word could easily conjure up images of Run-DMC (above), the intrepid hip-hop trio from Queens, NY that jumped across the arena stages in matching Adidas tracksuits in the 1980s. Cinephiles could imagine Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller), the depressed father who wore a red Adidas tracksuit in “The Royal Tenenbaums” in 2001, or Bruce Lee, who fought in a yolk-yellow version in “Game of Death” in 1978. Those who watch “The Sopranos” will likely envision Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico), the silver-haired heaviness who wore velor zipper sets during the run of the series.

And these are just pop culture tracksuits. When asked about his associations, Keanan Duffty, director of fashion programs at the Parsons School of Design in New York, mentioned the wild tracksuit sets on a 1983 runway show by British designer Vivienne Westwood. Meanwhile, Hussein quoted Suleiman, co-founder of Daily Paper, an 8-year-old Amsterdam label, a more modern reference: North African immigrants in France wearing the “lightest” tracksuits associated with football clubs like Olympic and Marseille.


It’s a simple look to put on before dragging yourself through another day of video calls.

Despite its existing fan base, the tracksuit gained more followers during the quarantine. It became a bestseller on Daily Paper last year “when everyone started doing work-from-home outfits,” said Mr Suleiman, who wears a tracksuit almost every day. Its simple explanation? “People just like to wear more comfortable things.”

UK retailer End Clothing also saw an increase in tracksuit interest over the past year. It’s a “very simple” look to put on before dragging your way through another day of virtual conferencing, explained Chris Fisher, the store’s senior buyer.

The range of tracksuits has also expanded significantly recently. According to Edited, a retail research firm, 81% more tracksuits are available on major ecommerce sites this year than last year. Krista Corrigan, one of Edited’s retail analysts, speculated that “a propensity for nostalgia and throwback trends” is fueling the tracksuit’s popularity. Of course, you can find plenty of standard solid color tracksuits reminiscent of ’80s joggers, old school English football fans, and Run-DMC. Purists appreciate that Adidas’ iconic three-stripe tracksuit has changed little since its introduction in 1967 as equipment for amateur athletes and sprinters who need warm-up clothing. But many tracksuits today deliver a lot more momentum than their sporty ancestors.

As more formal attire has fallen out of favor in recent years, high fashion labels like Gucci have been charging sportswear. The market is now full of four-digit Italian leather running shoes, cashmere hoodies, and tracksuits in increasingly alluring iterations. When it comes to price and splash, Gucci shoves the envelope with its over $ 3,000 polyester-cotton blend zip sets drenched in the Italian label’s double-G monogram pattern.

Parsons’ Mr. Duffty noted that these Gucci tracksuits echo the work of Dapper Dan, the Harlem-based knock-upper who created bespoke – and unapproved – tracksuits in the 1980s that boldly borrowed Gucci.

Louis Vuitton

and MCM logos and have been snapped up by hip-hop artists like LL Cool J and even Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC. In 2017, Gucci ran into significant problems after its creative director Alessandro Michele made a jacket that resembled one of Dan’s classic designs. The result: Gucci has officially partnered with Dapper Dan, and the first collaborative collection naturally included tracksuits.

The tracksuits from other labels also simmer with a sensitivity to me and make a simple statement when worn around the house with modest sneakers or a pair of Birkenstocks to shuffle with. The Japanese niche brand Needles sells polyester (approx. 585 USD) and velor (approx. 670 USD) tracksuits in brown, purple and green that look like Paulie Walnuts from “The Sopranos” is spending an evening in Miami. British brand Ahluwalia makes a jersey tracksuit with a green and blue wave print ($ 1,055) that is reminiscent of wallpaper in a modernist house in Palm Springs. Even Adidas indulged in some experimental tracksuits, offering a boxy tartan set ($ 620) made in partnership with British brand Wales Bonner. It’s a modern take on Run-DMC’s classic three-strip sets (now around $ 140), and maybe even more memorable.

GOOD SPORT

Retro-tinted tracksuits go with the modern.

Blue couple

This particularly sporty version made of technical plastic has a funnel neck and reflective piping. Jacket, $ 143, pants, $ 132, dailypaperclothing.com

Movie set

The butterfly logo on this dotted duo was inspired by Steve McQueen’s tattoo in the 1973 film “Papillon”. Needle jacket, $ 303, pants, $ 249, matchfashion.com

Original outfit

This three-stripe suit from Adidas is similar to the Run-DMC that became popular in the 80s. Jacket, $ 75, Pants, $ 65, adidas.com

Write to Jacob Gallagher at Jacob.Gallagher@wsj.com

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