Form versus function might be a phrase more commonly used in the design world. Most of us who work out or take part in sports have experienced this dilemma first hand. The choice between choosing what looks good and what is practical. Of course, the level of participation in a sport will impact on the degree to which these considerations are relevant.
For instance, those who are involved in sport just for fun, to socialise or to try something new, may grab what’s comfy to wear or what’s quick to hand. For the keep fit fanatic, regular runner or athlete however, there’s more to consider.
Firstly there’s the practical issues. The functionality of sports clothing will impact on the experience of the sport itself. Regardless of the type of exercise or sport, these are issues not to be ignored.
Is a jacket waterproof? Is it made from a breathable fabric? Will trousers get in the way of any equipment or activity? Does a vest top sufficiently protect the body during the activity?
Then there’s how a garment looks. It would perhaps be easier to dismiss the idea that what training gear looks like is irrelevant to the regular gym attendee or even the athlete. This idea is a complex one, mixed with a range of social norms layered and heaped one on top of the other. Perhaps it’s a question of psychology; to look good is to feel good, and feeling good is thought to improve performance.
To rid ourselves of these ideas would be to rid ourselves of social norms. So shopping for new sports gear inevitably involves questions of both form and function.
From a form versus function perspective, the sports kit has become truly beautiful. Take a look at Sweaty Betty Sweaty Betty for inspirational design and clever use of pattern and print.
Bright colours sit alongside pastel shades shaped through contoured lines that can make everyone feel good. Outdoor wear has become less bulky too with fabric developments thinning layers and allowing more space for trendy styles and textures.
On the other hand, from a function based perspective, protection from the elements, warmth and breathability will still influence a shopper. Brands such as New Balance are taking care to offer both form and function in men and women’s designs. Top of the list is their Wind Blocker Jacket which not only offers runners great contoured design but also lightweight fabric and reflective detailing for the Winter season.
The simplicity of some of the designs might be what really keeps people coming back to certain brands. Clothing that doesn’t argue with the very nature of a workout can create a feel good factor too. The keen keep fitter or athlete will sweat, feel tired and is likely to be just as concerned with their health and well-being as they are with their look.
Thankfully sportswear designers have not lost sight of this and today there’s a great range of gear that compliments all needs. For some time H&M have offered affordable and simple styles for keep fit. From crop tops and leggings sets to vest tops in multiple colours. Sweat it out, take it easy, dress to impress or dress down. Whatever your goals, form versus function is becoming less of a dilemma.