The functionality of sportswear has developed at a tremendous pace over the decades. At the same time, they have become a huge business, developing their own equipment for each use.
When Sports began to be organized in Finland at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the development of separate sports clothes also began.
The worst casual shirt was allowed to go to the gym for a long time if you couldn’t afford to get many clothes.
Sportswear could also be made by hand before industrial production began. Suomen Trikoo began manufacturing cotton jerseys suitable for sports in the 1920s.
“For example Hannes Kolehmainen you were still training on a casual suit. After that, tracksuits and sports shirts began to appear, ”says the exhibition manager of the Finnish Sports Museum. Kalle Rantala.
The Finnish networkers became the athletes’ representative attire at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. They manifested a change: before, the athletes had represented their country in costumes. The sportswear business thus began to expand from performance clothing to other sportswear.
After the war, people began to be able to afford separate casual clothing for different purposes. Sportswear also began to slowly become sport-specific.
Examples of this are Tapio Kantasen equipment. He reached bronze in the 3,000-meter hurdles at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Junior in skiing competitions, he wore a sweater first, then an anorak, in the early 1960s.
“The orange-black tracksuit of Heinola Isku, who I got when I was about 12 years old, was worthy of gold. It was fluffy and pretty warm in the summer. In the race, the competition outfit was a sleeveless shirt and short sports pants, which I got a little later when I was on the gymnastics team, ”says Kantanen.
The tracksuit served as a training suit for a long time, although other equipment began to come. During the military period, Kantanen already had three separate sportswear coats.
According to Rantala, for a long time the only club outfit at the junior level was a jersey or similar. The club’s logo was a fabric badge that was sewn on one of its own garments.
Equipment development accelerated in Finland in the 1970s and 1980s, when the post-war shortage was over and economic growth was strong.
“In addition, Finnish athletes who were successful in the 1970s came into contact with large international equipment manufacturers, and Finland also became interested in them,” says Rantala.
According to Kantanen, before the Moscow Olympics, the costumes of the Finnish team were insignificant according to the Olympic rules. Clothes such as Beckenbauer-style shorts were brought to Moscow from Adidas.
The most important changes in sportswear have been the development of their materials, comfort, durability and functionality.
Even after the wars, the most popular were natural materials such as wool and silk, but from the 1960s onwards, man-made fibers took over the sector.
The flexible spandex or lycra began its winning streak in sportswear at the end of the decade.
“The domestic clothing industry took lessons from abroad, and inventions like Gore-Tex were brought to us from around the world,” says Rantala.
The man-made fibers of the early days did not work quite as promised. At the end of the 1970s, the technical underlayment made of polyester did not let moisture out of the skin properly, but despite washing, it began to smell of sweat easily, Kantanen says.
There was still grinding in the wind suits as well.
“In 1972, the national team’s uniform was, among other things, a waterproof impervious wind suit made of nylon. It was like a one-man sauna. ”
Gradually, sportswear became more streamlined.
In 1980 he sailed for Olympic gold in Finnjoll Esko Rechardt wore Terinit’s Lycra ski coverall as his race uniform.
Chita Wahlroos represented Finland in the sailing e-yacht in Barcelona in 1992 and in Atlanta in 1996.
In the latter race, he used lycra clothing made by Pirouet for sailors, which by the way was not yet available.
“Rukka also made prototypes of Gore-Tex jackets for us at the turn of the 1980s and 90s. At that time they did not last, but the film came off the fabric. ”
Now there are many different breathable membranes and sailors ’wetsuits are even thinner as well as more comfortable. Clothing can also include UV protection.
The development of materials has done Riikka Lehtonen too more comfortable than the workouts. As a volleyball professional, he always played in the clothes provided by the club, i.e. for a long time in big, cotton sweatshirts.
“During the workouts, I sweated two or three shirts to the wet amount. Since there were exercises twice a day, I asked the team for extra shirts so I had time to wash them. The quality of the training clothes depended on how much money the team had to spend on equipment. ”
Now Lehtonen focuses on beach volleyball and can influence his own equipment. He has liked compression tricks, for example.
“I had been in knee surgery when I first got them tested. They became firmer. ”
Compression garments are one example of the development of performance-enhancing clothing. The development of suits that reduce air or water resistance has sometimes required changes to the rules. This was the case, for example, with swimming in rubber suits, which were banned in 2010.
Sportswear also tell about the development of the surrounding society. Women began to wear pants in women’s gymnastics and cycling as early as the 19th century, and even in skiing, they became more common in our 1920s.
Women’s models of sports equipment have entered the market slowly. Back in the 1990s, for example, sailing clothing was a unisex model.
“I was always in too big sailing clothes because I’m small in size. Now a wide range of different sizes is available, ”says Chita Wahlroos.
Riikka Lehtonen got the first volleyball clothes designed for women while playing in Cannes, France in the early 2000s.
After that, more snug shirts, sometimes very short game pants and more technical materials came in, but the situation still varied from club to club.
“Cannes had nice materials, more feminine patterns and a sleeveless shirt. Usually I had given the training clothes of previous years to my father, but now they went to my mother. ”
In beach volleyball, women usually play in less clothing than men, but Lehtonen considers bikinis to be the best option for playing in the hot and sandy. What matters is comfort and that the clothes stay in place.
“On the US AVP tour, men can also play without a shirt if they want.”
The development of fashion is also linked to sportswear. Kalle Rantala reminds that sportswear can also be an expression of identity.
Tracksuits creep into street fashion in the 1960s and windbreakers in the next decade. With the development of manufacturing, it has been possible to start using more colors in sportswear.
“I also wore a neon jacket as beachwear in the 1980s and 90s,” Wahlroos recalls.
Sportswear has grown a huge business and their availability has improved with the internet.
Wahlrooskin also made pilgrimage trips to the sporting goods department store on sailing trips in France because no similar products were available from Finland.
The development of sport-specific equipment has also accelerated and clothing is designed separately for all possible conditions.
“I started sailing in yellow rain pants and a jacket, like many 1970s kids. When I was at the Olympics, I might have had one dry and wet suit. Now I compete once or twice a summer, and I have three wetsuits and four different lycra outfits for different situations, ”Wahlroos sums up.
Rantala is raising crossfit clothing recently, for example, from the development of branded clothing in one sport.
“Reebok’s marketing machinery made a huge impact on crossfit’s growing popularity.”
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