Thursday, July 18, 2013

The influence of rugby on modern clothing fashion

It is hard to imagine that the clothing worn by players in a game like rugby could have a significant influence on modern fashion and yet every day rugby jerseys are seen on high streets all around the world. Is this really surprising?

In the early days, rugby clothing consisted of polo shirts and shorts, the shirts being plain, long-sleeved and with a buttoned collar. As the game developed and football and rugby split, so rugby players took to jerseys with hoops as opposed to the vertical stripes preferred by footballers.

Rugby jerseys became popular for casual wear because they were rugged and hardwearing as well as colourful. But they were not thought appropriate for more formal casual wear until college students in the United States considered them to be stylish and began to wear them as a fashion statement.

Fashion designers, of course, latched onto the new trend and explored new ways to make the rugby jersey even more stylish. They moved away from the standard team colours that had been the norm and paired them with casual trousers, wore them underneath jackets or wore them with cravats to give a more sophisticated look. So, rugby jerseys took their place on the fashion stage, although they had moved away from the traditional designs of the past.

Lovers of rugby clothing can still enjoy the old casual look. They can still wear the colours of their favourite sides and with the growing popularity of the game worldwide there are more team jerseys than ever before to choose from. And, as fabrics and manufacturing techniques have developed, the range of jerseys and colours has increased.

The skin-tight fit of modern rugby clothing is hardly suitable for casual wear but the modern team colour designs still find favour with fans. Many like to have the number of their favourite player on the back. No. 8 is hugely popular with such great players as Laurence Dallaglio, Zinzan Brooke, Wayne “Buck” Shelford and Kieran Read, who have their own enthusiastic following.

The latest printing techniques mean that the designs on rugby jerseys are becoming more colourful and complex. They have moved far from the original plain or hooped design so that now almost anything goes and some designs are more like pop art than rugby colours. A glance at the catalogue of colours worn by the Stade Francais team in recent years bears testament to what can be done with designs these days.

National sides often seem to experiment more with colour in the jerseys of their Sevens teams. There have been some interesting innovations, one of the most stunning and controversial being the “Tequila Sunrise” design worn by the England Sevens side just a few years ago.

England have broken the mould again with the new kit designed by Canterbury. This latest offering to be worn by the men’s and women’s sides in the July IRB Sevens World Cup and the 2013-14 IRB World Series features a pixellated rose on a white background on the main strip with the same image magnified by a factor of ten on a black background on the change strip. Only time will tell if the new look finds favour with the fans.

Canterbury, of course has all your favourite team jerseys so there will be no doubt about your loyalties. You can even design your own kit using the Canterbury Teamwear range that allows you to mix and match designs and colours and even allows you to add a unique touch by giving you the option of using their printing and embroidery service.

All those years ago when rugby was in its infancy, it would have been hard to imagine that the humble rugby jersey would find its way into the wardrobes of the well dressed man-about-town, but nowadays there can be few men without one. And as designs and colours become more innovative, it seems that rugby jerseys could well find themselves at the cutting edge of fashion.

About the author:

My name is Eddard Blake and I am freelance writer for Canterbury of New Zealand.

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