The fitness industry has come a long way since it started out all those years ago and dutifully following our lifestyles we have seen many changes throughout the centuries with the most notable being LYCRA.
As one of the most important textile innovations of the 20th century, Lycra started life in 1958 and has not only revolutionised sportswear but can take credit for its incredible importance to the fitness industry and credit for the delivery of multiple advances and innovations since its creation.
Boasting its quick-drying and ultra-lightweight benefits and the ability to be stretched over 500% without breaking, whilst still recovering to its original length, it is stronger and even more durable than rubber – making it the perfect match for sportswear and remaining unchallenged to this day.
But before Lycra there was…..
Well not much else as far as sportswear goes.
And if we go back far enough we can see the trauma that many woman who wished to partake in sports had to face.
With modesty still remaining the most important expectation at the time it was conventional that the typical dress was still worn throughout activity and full dresses in rigid fabrics typical of the time came in several layers that covered their full body, giving no allowance for breathability.
Go back far enough and you see how even the corset was an expected part of sports attire… Imagine working out in a corset?
Now although many women were not encouraged to do sports as it was seen as ‘unladylike’ and the type of sports at the time did not require ladies to exactly ‘work up a sweat’ we can still see how incredibly restricting this must have been for the wearers.
Luckily in the 1950’s we start to see some small changes within the industry thanks to the introduction of nylon into the commercial market; and with it bringing innovations in colour, ridding us of the tea-rose pink typical of the time and bringing new life to our garments.
Finally then Lycra made its way on to our scene and bought with it a sudden change of heart reminiscent of the 1960’s. Women were sprung upon with new fashionable ideals which expected us to transform our bodies via diet and exercise – showcasing the ideal fashionable figure without the aid of foundation garments.
There was a lot of convincing to do at first of course as many who had been sold for years on the idea that ladies shouldn’t be partaking in exercise whatsoever, were suddenly told the opposite and being shunned if they did not hold a gym membership.
Whether out of laziness or being stuck in their ways the fitness industry had a lot to do to coax those girlies off their little un-toned bottoms and into breaking a sweat…
Until at least the 1970’s and roll on Jane Fonda and the other leotard clad fitness gurus hell bent on empowering woman by fighting for the fashionable slim but toned body and promoting exercise as the fashionable method of figure control. It’s also around this time that we finally see the arrival of the first sports bra. Hooray! Courtesy of American designers and jogging partners Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindahl, 1977 brings us the very first jogging bra with its goal to “stop woman’s breasts bouncing as they exercised.”
Lycra is very much the material to beat and has been the foundation of us ladies getting that beach body. The future will undoubtedly bring us some exciting new developments in fabric and clothing technology that will surpass what we have currently, but in the meantime aren’t you just glad we have Lycra?