The sponsor of the ADAC Total 24hrs Race this year was the British brand Palace: for fans of this sport, he prepared a special collection and designed cars for the participants of the competition. Then the car brand Ferrari held the first fashion show: now the company will have its own clothing brand. The sport and the fashion world have been linked for years, with designers from all over the world drawing inspiration from racing gear. Understanding how auto racing clothing influenced the fashion industry.
The origins of motorsport
According to Sports Schools, the first event in this sport took place on July 22, 1984. It was organized by Pierre Giffard, publisher of the Le Petit Journal newspaper. Then the crews had to cover the distance of 126 kilometers from Paris to Rouen in less than eight and a half hours.
It was around this time that motorsport began to emerge in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Exotic and new, racing did not attract much public attention. The real merit in the development of this sport belongs to mechanics and scientists who tried to make a technological breakthrough. So, already at the beginning of the XX century, motorsport acquired its fans.
Equipment and safety at the start of the journey
When motorsport just began to take root in society, few people thought about the safety of the clothes worn by drivers. So, racers could be seen in ordinary T-shirts, polos, trousers, and shirts – at the beginning of the 20th century, comfort was the priority. After dozens of years, the equipment began to change. Outerwear was replaced by leather jackets, representing a cross between a coat and an aviator jacket. The high sides of this wardrobe item did not interfere with the drivers, because at that time, voluminous round glasses on a leather belt acted as face protection.
In 1955, an event occurred that forced the founders of racing to revise safety standards. The car of the driver Pierre Levegh crashed into the fence, as a result of which he and more than 80 spectators of the event died. Remembering the terrible incident, the organizers of Formula 1 in the 1960s introduced the mandatory wearing of a protective helmet with visors and special overalls.
The rivalry between Nomex and asbestos
As with the development of helmets, overalls were noticed after a series of riders’ deaths in 1964. In early 1966, sports publications announced that the American teams Chrysler-Plymouth and Group 44 had already tried on experimental suits. The overalls were based on the Nomex fireproof material developed by DuPont. Due to the fact that the equipment was developed in one layer, the underwear of the riders also consisted of Nomex.
In the 1970s, Nomex had a competitor, an asbestos fabric made by Stand 21. She made suits for firefighters, and therefore put forward a proposal to create equipment for racers. However, later, the carcinogenic properties of asbestos were revealed, which became the reason for the termination of the manufacture of overalls from it.
What racing clothes look like today
Modern racing suits have a lot of overlap with futuristic apparel and tech-weir. Their main purpose is safety, durability, and protection of the owner from unforeseen situations. Overalls remained at the heart of racing equipment, but they acquired new elements and functions. So, shoulder straps are not so much decoration as a means of help in case of an accident. With their help, people can pull out the injured pilot who has lost consciousness from the cockpit.
After the mandatory introduction of helmets, the collars of the jackets also changed. Instead of the standard coat-style collar collars, sportswear manufacturers are creating jackets with straight high collars that could mate with helmets to comfortably protect the body. Another distinguishing feature of modern racing suits is the numerous patches representing the partners of the rider or the whole team.
Car racing style in designer collections
Major brands have interacted with competitors on more than one occasion. For example, United Colors of Benetton provided colored sponsor patches to the Toleman team in the 1980s and 1990s. And in the 2010s, plates with the brands Hugo Boss, Hackett, and Gieves & Hawkes could be seen on car dashboards. If it all started with the usual partnership in the format of patches, now the designers present more extensive lines dedicated to auto racing. Some experts point out that this sport can become the most popular in the fashion industry because racers have not only a history of their sport but also motivation, the conditionality of details in clothes.
Marc by Marc Jacobs, 2014
Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier, who work for Marc Jacobs, were among the first to explore the impact of racing on fashion more deeply. The line has become a tribute to many sports: karate, BMX, snowboarding and others clearly recognizable in outfits. But it was auto racing that was most vividly expressed in outfits: the models wore things in saturated colors, and the clothes themselves in some details resembled the outfit of drivers. So, one of the shirts had darts like a racing jacket, and a number of things were decorated with stripes.
Guram and Demna Gvasalia, who ran the Vetements Fashion House in the 2010s, also took part in the riders’ outfits. At the spring-summer 2016 show, among the common hodgepodge, one could see two full-fledged looks with leather racing jackets and trousers. Maintaining the basic principles of outfit, the brothers-designers reflected in the style of clothing the main feature of their brand – ugly fashion.
Jeremy Scott, who has been working for the Italian fashion house Moschino for many years, is not afraid to flirt with an abundance of materials and does not hide if he creates something for commercial purposes. His spring 2016 collection as a whole was dedicated to the Renaissance, however, there was a place for the Formula 1 theme. Most of all, bright stripes stood out: on dresses, sweatshirts, jackets, hoodies. Scott complimented the jersey outfits, which looked like rider gear, with goggles and brightly branded mitts.
How to use racing gear in your outfit
In addition to specialty stores, it is difficult to find one-on-one things that overlap with the theme of racing. Most often in this style, you can find jackets, mostly leather. Racing jackets in wardrobes have evolved to be bulky, fabric, bomber-like. One thing remains the main thing – bright stripes.
Another historically established element is a dense checker print, reminiscent of the flags of grid girls – girls who take the race participants to the starting position. If you want to create an image in a racing style, you can experiment with the color of things and combine, for example, bright embroidery and a checker.