In a 1994 DKNY Active campaign Rosemary McGrotha and Marc Vanderloo define their ideal duo of the mid 1990s: urban, active, and in-shape. The graphic language of the runner uniform becomes the idea look for a hyper modern metropolis.
The late Steve Jobs is pragmatically dressed in an Issey Miyake mock neck pullover and New Balance sneakers, sporting a look as integral in synergizing technology and lifestyle in the midst of the Information Age as any of his Apple innovations.
It’s no secret that active wear has steadily made its way into fashion semantics over the last 20 years, just as sportswear became a part of everyday dress decades before. From Nike to Northface to the genre defining Y-3, clothes designed for comfort and performance have been readily adapted into symbols of status, community, and progressive lifestyle. For fall 2013 some of the keenest menswear designers in the U.S. and Europe took inspiration from the world of athletics and its contemporary uniform: zippers, nylon, heathered grey jersey, running sneakers — no longer for the gym or the track field, they aspire to a modernism based in practicality and necessity and an acceptance and admiration of technology as a means to better one’s life. The last time this spirit got such a potent and fleshed out treatment was maybe in the mid ‘90s when DKNY pursued the active look to define their urban centric ambitions. That this language enjoys such a fashionable revival just as we come to terms with our totally engrossing technological dependence, just as dial-up modems and affordable personal computers offered the startling appeal of a bright bold future almost 20 years ago, is no surprise. It’s the look of Google, Apple, and Microsoft, of computer tablets and smart phones, a look that puts stock in intellectual stamina and a body that works in tandem with the mind, not against it. It is the idea of the Jock flipped on its head as athletic wear becomes a part of everyday dress, worn by a generation who seek solutions in all aspects of their life, or, at least for now, the look of it.