When the sport of jogging became a national obsession in the 1970s, bringing with it a fascination with fitness, people were looking for appropriate attire for running along city streets and country lanes, or jogging in place at the gym. Baseball, football, basketball, and hockey players had uniforms that were designed for the specifics of their sport and runners were looking for the same. Casual street clothes such as jeans and a loosely-fitted shirt were impractical. The old T-shirt and shorts or one-piece cotton gym suit was not fashionable. Out of this need came the popularity of the jogging suit: a casual two-piece outfit designed and marketed for men and women that included a zip jacket and elastic-waist pants.
The first jogging suits consisted of clothing that already existed: fleece sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts. As an athletic ensemble, it was an offshoot of the traditional tracksuit, which had been in existence since the early 1950s. The tracksuit was made up of long pants and a long-sleeved jacket and was worn by runners and other athletes. For the style-conscious, however, such attire seemed drab. Realizing that a market was emerging for a stylish jogging wardrobe,
In 1975 Adidas introduced its top-selling nylon and polyester jogging suit. It consisted of a full-zip jacket with two front pockets and a ribbed neck, hem, and cuffs. The pants featured an internal drawcord, ankle zippers, and elastic side-seam pockets. A three-stripe design was added to the jacket sleeves and pant side seams. The suit had the embroidered company logo on the left hip of the pants and the left breast of the jacket. The women's model was practically identical, except for the tailoring.
Not everyone purchased jogging suits for running. Some wore them as sportswear, because they were sleek and attractive. Jogging suits thus became a fashion trend, with designers such as Russian-born Oleg Cassini (1913–) joining the athletic wear companies in marketing them. In the 1980s and 1990s the jogging suit evolved into the contemporary tracksuit: smoother, more fitted, and shinier, and made of state-of-the-art nylon and spandex materials. While many people actually exercised in these outfits, tracksuits were popularized by rap artists and other musicians and dancers as a type of urban street fashion.
Schnurnberger, Lynn. Let There Be Clothes: 40,000 Years of Fashion. New York: Workman Publishing, 1991.