The London Olympics Games Cultural Studies Essay

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The London Olympics Games was undeniably an anticipated event for people around the globe during the summer of 2012. Along with this worldwide interest and attention directed to this major sports event, it was apparent that several products have used athletic elements to promote their brands since these elements appear to be appealing for the season. Consequently, this inspired me to create the concept of my collection of five ready-to-wear garments for women which are highly influenced by sportswear, sport gears which also accompanies with elements of the London Olympics Games. The objective of this concept is to transform sportswear into a sophisticated, casual look, particularly targeted to modern young female professional from mid 20s to late 30s. This collection, which can be worn both day and night, has a touch of the sporty sensibility without the need to look as if one has just finished their daily work out.

2. Scope

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Upon the design of my collection, three types of researches are presented: cultural, market, and design.

First, a cultural research illustrates sports culture in the 80s and Yuppie Period, a period when there were more awareness and attentiveness among young professionals regarding their looks and health. This section addresses influence and inspiration that I have gained from various prominent designers, including the impact of the concept of sport cultures during that period on my collection.

Second, a market research is presented. In order to understand the fashion and trends of the sportswear worn by Thais, a primary research and observation of the sport environment of people exercising in Lumpini Park has been conducted. This section includes demographics, target market, and the goal of the brand through a business and social perspective.

Last and most importantly, I also provide a design research which includes a depiction of various elements and information from the Olympics Games 2012 such as the architecture of the stadiums and athletes' outfits and gears, a prediction of colour trends for next seasons, and finally, a discussion of the concept of the brand/collection such materials used, the designs, patterns, influences, colours etc.

The following sections are concept development in written and visual forms of the development of my concept. This includes all the important development notes and drawings. Further, this essay also includes a presentation of key steps in development of the final designed object in the deliverable development section. A final timeline and budget is also included along with diary events of job records and activities as well as my personal reflections of the project.

3. Research

I) Cultural Research

History of Sportswear

Before discussing the cultural context of my collection which has its roots from fashion during the 80s and the Yuppie Period, a presentation of the brief history of sportswear is important. Sportswear has its origins in the 19th century when sportswear was mainly worn by individuals who participate in recreational activities in Europe and the US. Since recreation was a form of luxury, sportswear could reveal the social status of that individual. [1] Moreover, sportswear became more fashionable due to the reputation of the modern Olympic Games in 1894 which presented a new movement that created more awareness of sportswear as a fashion with a theme that promotes physical health and well-being. [2] 

The increased popularity of sportswear was led by one of the world's renowned designers, Gabrielle Coco Chanel, whose revolutionary designs for women became an immense success in Paris during the 1920s. [3] Sportswear was initially targeted for men, but Chanel took the inspiration gained from concepts of male sportswear and garments for to create "effortless" and innovative garments for females. [4] With Chanel's ready-to-wear designs, women were more liberated since no further assistance were needed when wearing dresses as women were freed from corsets and elegant dresses of the Belle Époque era. [5] Examples of Chanel's designs include jersey suits and uncluttered dresses, khaki jersey skirts with an army-influenced jacket shape from men sportswear. [6] Further, Chanel's straight-line jacket suit contrasts with the details of luxury fabrics with minimal lines, thus creating masculine elements to be present in a female jacket. The garments, cut and confected to be functional, allow the wearer to have more freedom of movement, physical comfort, and to aesthetically enhance the woman's figure, in action and in repose. These ground-breaking fashion that Chanel designed for females in the 1920s is considered as one of the strongest inspirations for my collection, for instance, themes of haute couture and ready-to-wear designs with a touch of sport sensibility that is shown in Chanel's designs is also presented in my collection.

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Apart from Chanel being the pioneer who introduced sportswear to the fashion world, American designer Norma Kamali was also known for using sportswear materials, ranging from sweatshirting, ra-ra skirts, jumpsuits to leggings, to create fashionable clothing during the late 70s in the US. [7] This origin of fashionable sportswear triggered growing awareness of healthy lifestyle among people. [8] Celebrities were also responsible in leading the popularity of sportswear, for instance Bob Marley, who became a fashion icon by creating a trend of bringing football gears and tracksuits into the fashion arena. [9] As a result, training shoes and tracksuits were part of the trend among both black female and male teenagers of all ages, and considered a "comfortable leisure wear". [10] The status of sportswear had inspired more relevant styles for sub-cultural groups in the 80s, known as the Hip-Hop (B-Boy and Flygirls) and the Casuals.

Fashion of the 80s

The Hip-Hop era in the 80s is recognized as a street-style subculture in which a great deal of physical movements, known as break-dancing, is acted upon by Hip Hop youngsters (B-Boy and Flygirls). [11] Due to this, an evident influence from sportswear can be seen in the Hip Hop style since B-Boy and Flygirls were able to move around more conveniently with Hip Hop fashion. [12] This fashion includes baggy jeans, large sweatshirts and T-shirts in bright colours including metal nameplates as accessories. [13] From a subculture, Hip Hop had successfully evolved to a mainstream style for both men and women of all races and classes, additionally; Hip Hop was often referred to the new "rock and roll" in the US [14] that also has its international fame across the globe until today. The main theme of the Hip Hop cultural that serves us an inspiration for my collection are tracksuits, tracksuits bottoms, loose-fitting jacket and pants.

While Hip Hop is originated in the US, Britain also had its own subculture in the early 80s, known as the Casuals. Inspired by the football culture, the adolescents of the Casuals were dressed in classy and expensive European designer labels of sportswear, such as Burberry and Lacoste. [15] Unlike mainstream Hip Hop which targeted different classes, the Casuals' target was the richer and upper-class who could afford expensive, stylish and chic sportswear. [16] Youth in the Casual subculture could be also seen wearing layered sweatshirts or tracksuits over T-shirts or tank tops in varying bright colors, asymmetric shoulder top to reveal either a bare shoulder or the straps of tanks. [17] This element can also be seen in my collection. In addition, the Casuals represent themes of "personal success and wealth", [18] similar to the Yuppies, another US and UK subculture that has influenced by my collection.

The turn of the 1980s also greeted another trend, the Yuppies, an abbreviation for "Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person'. [19] They are recognized as "young and successful professionals in their twenties to early forties" and serve as the role model for the American consumer. [20] Since the 1980s was considered as an era of economic progress, the Yuppies aimed to represent the image of success, alike to the Casuals. However, while the Casuals mainly focused on expensive sportswear worn by metrosexual men, the Yuppies, on the other hand, had focused "power dressing" for both genders and especially for women who had a more professional look by wearing padded shouldered suits with trousers and skirts. More specifically, inspiration for my collection is the suit jacket with broad shoulders in bold colors, such as red, further; the blazers also feature shoulder pads, and high-waist tight pants.

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With the cultural research illustrated above, Chanel's revolutionary ready-to-wear garments, the loose-fitting clothes and sportiness from the Hip Hop fashion, and themes of success and achievement from the Casuals and the Yuppies serve as inspirations to my collection.

II) Market Research

Research of the sports environment in Thailand

Since my collection is aimed at professional women in Thailand, a research which includes an observation of the sport environment and sportswear fashion in Thailand is significant. My objective is to observe the sport environment in Lumpini Park, a famous park in Thailand best known for a place where variety of sport activities take place and are practiced by both children, adults and elderly.

Compared to the period before 1990s when there was no established national program by the government, there was less awareness for people to stay healthy by exercising. [21] The increased of support by the government and private sports brand can serve as two channels for the increase of participants in sports. [22] Firstly, governmental support of sports events and activities had brought several remarkable changes to the society when the public became more attentive about their health. Examples of how the government promotes sport activities include Aerobics classes, sport facilities, gymnasiums, swimming pools, fitness parks, footfall fields, jogging and cycling tracks developed in public areas such as under the highway and parks. Further, the new modern gym complex constructed in Lumpini Park shows that sports and exercising have become widespread in Thailand. [23] 

It is important to present information regarding the popularity of physical exercise done by Thais prior to the second channel of support by private sport brands. According to the statistics collected from the National Statistical Office Thailand in 2007, the type of exercise that is most popular among Thais in the metropolitan area are sports, such as football, basketball, badminton etc. Other popular physical exercises by Thais include walking, running, Tai-chi, aerobics and fitness. [24] 

Secondly, private sport brands and entertainment sectors also have their own techniques in promotion of health awareness by supporting sport activities through social media and mass events. With the help of social media, an instrument for people around the globe to interact with one another, can serve as one channel to encourage people to exercise and to take part in sports events. One example is how one of the most popular annual regional events, organized by Adidas, entitled 'King of the Road', is be held in 5 different countries (Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia), aiming to bring runners across the region together by a mass promotion through sport outlets, printed and visual media, distribution of leaflets at the venue location, billboards, Facebook, and Twitter. [25] In order to draw the young people attention to enter the event, the organizer would invite celebrities to participate in that event.

In addition, the interest to participate in a certain sport can also come from the enthusiasm of the London Olympics Games (or other major sport events such as football or basketball tournaments) may not only raise the national spirit of audiences to support their national teams, it may also leave an impact on them by motivating them to participate in sport activities. For instance, youngsters who watched the games may be inspired to follow the footsteps of their national competitors whose success and effort can be seen worldwide.

Observation of the sports environment in Thailand

From the observation of sport communities that I conducted in Lumpini Park, people of all ages, from young, adult to the elderly, can be seen exercising and participating in a certain sport according to the ability and aptitude of each individual. Two observations I have made is the sports outfit and sport gears.

Firstly, both male and female wear similar outfits; each individual's outfit varies according to their age and social status and the sports they participate in. Generally, the young and adults can be seen in sleeveless tanks, racing backs, polo shirts or t-shirt with short sleeves or long sleeves. Sweatshirts, windbreakers and tracksuits are worn before and after exercise, whereas trousers come in different lengths and forms: tight-fitted, lose-fitted, etc. Young female runners can also be seen in running skirts and high socks, while a majority of male runners wear cut-away running shorts, running tights, and sleeveless tops with racing back style or short sleeves. However, windbreakers and tracksuits are less common for runners, but it is more popular among boxers. The choice of colors for outfits also depends on the individual. For instance, people can be seen wearing outfits that are in bright, bold colors with graphic prints and designs.

Secondly, sports gears worn also varies, for instance, all kind of shoes can be used for aerobics since this exercise occurs less impact than running, without the requirement of specialized gears therefore, fitness shoes or trainers that available on the Thai market are used. These sport gears are both local to foreign brands, depending on the budget of the individual. Yoga, which consist a majority of female participants, is practiced barefoot.

Target Market, Perspectives, Goals and Demographics

From the inspiration gained from the sportswear, fashion during the 80's and Yuppie Period along with the research collected on the sport environment in Thailand, this brings me to present more information on the scope of my collection in this section. Information regarding images of the collection, the target market, goals of the brand, and demographical information is illustrated in this section.

My collection consists of a range of five high-fashion, sport-influenced semi-streetwear garments. First of all, images that my collection represents is illustrated. The designs of my collection characterize stylishness, independence, sociable and a gregarious image, however, the image of "independence" does not mean that the design is more masculine-looking. The design emphasizes on the femininity of women which is explained in details in the next section. These images has its influences from Chanel's designs when women are released from their corsets and dresses to more innovative designs which represent the independence of women without removing images of femininity.

These images characterizing my collection leads me to determine the target market of my collection as independent, young professional women in their mid 20s to early 40s. This target market is also defined as women who lives and works in the metropolitan city, particularly, a career related to the art, media, sport and entertainment field. Further, these outgoing women are often seen in public place or are seen socializing with friends in the hip wine bar and restaurant in the evening with a stylish, sophisticated and the trendiest fashion. Since my collection embraces elements related to sports and physical activities including outdoor and indoor sports, for instance, running, diving and yoga etc, my collection aims for a woman of size 6 US. This is because the subject should represent an image of healthiness, being in shape and has fit lean body features. Additionally, this collection has no discrimination regardless of race, colour or creed.

There are two main reasons for choosing young professional women as my target market. First, through a business perspective, these young women, ages between 25 and 39 and should at least hold a four-year college degree, are in the stage of life where they are advancing in their careers as well as being more dependent on themselves or even starting a family. Due to their education levels and well-paying jobs, they have got significant disposable incomes. While becoming more established, they increasingly acquire big ticket items. Additionally, they are seen as a high potential in purchasing power, and are rather quick making decisions on how to spend their money for unique shopping experiences. For instance, they are likely to avoid purchasing items from their parents' favourite stores or even avoid buying mainstream products that are often bought by younger shoppers.

Second, through a sociological perspective, clothes can define the character and personal style of the wearer. Even though we can find career women everywhere, it is undeniable to state that that women are fundamentally acknowledged as weaker and dependent beings compared to men, therefore, this target market seeks to display their true character by wearing clothes that represent independence. Further, clothes that represent success can also lack femininity and stylishness for a woman who works in a field that requires creativity. Because my collection is a fusion between the successful image while being stylish and feminine, it is possible that my collection is likely to appeal to them since it has the characteristics to bring out the true personality of the target market. Moreover, my collection is also practical but always be keeping up with the trends. This clearly sends the message to the target market that the clothes that they wear are not out-of-date. Combined, these elements make young professionals the main target market for my collection.

The main goals that my brand is aiming to create are important information to be presented. Related to images of independence, my collection allows women to draw out their true distinctive character of being successful and stylishness. Moreover, due to the strong influence from sportswear, this collection also creates awareness among young people to exercise and look after their health instead of working long hours in the office and lacking time for sports and recreation to stay healthy. Additionally, nowadays, less nutritional food has become mainstream, the goal of my brand seeks to encourage a trend of looking and staying healthy in this era.

Information regarding image representations, target market and goals of my collection has been discussed in details; lastly, demographical results regarding sportswear and fashion are presented. The following results are collected from a survey I conducted on social media such as Facebook. The questions included their personal information such as their names, age group, gender and occupation. These questions moved onwards to ask them about their leisure, frequency of exercising, opinions on the influence of sport on current fashion trends as well as to whether they are being influenced by it. Questions also account on their opinions of whether sportswear are limited to the gym and the number of sportswear-inspired attire that they own. (See Appendix for questionnaires)

From the results collected, 90% of those who took the survey were women with a majority of them belonging to the age group between 21-29 and 40-49, further, they mostly have a decent job and income in either the management or the art field. To them, having a healthy look is highly favourable. This can be seen by results of 80% of the survey-takers dedicating themselves to work out during their free time, such as running or walking. In addition, most of them found that sportswear-influenced fashion is very interesting and would expect to see well-designed apparel that can be worn both in and outside the gym; items that are sensible yet tasteful. The idea is further supported by resuts which stated that 85% of survey-takers consider that sportswear is not limited to only exercise and sports, but it can be worn for other purposes and occasions. This can be assumed that fashionable active wear reflects the formal approach that has been added to athletic-styled clothing.

Garments designed for leisure and exercise have now taken a trend-led twist, featuring hooded jackets, jersey sweaters, cycling shorts, and the tracksuit bottoms.The look illustrates a more grown-up and sexier version that can be worn in the office. For instance, tracksuit pants made of silk or jersey in a muted pastel colour features drawstring waists or cuffed ankles that is suitable with high heels. This definitely keeps the sense of practicality along with a stylish theme.

The casual, yet elegant, clothing which is perfect for everyday wear, shows the important leap of sportswear into the fashionable retail market. The influence of sportswear on the runway is becoming more evident each season; a trend that can be predicted to continue to grow in the near future. In addition to the increasing numbers of famous designers who are introducing active wear inspired ranges to the runway, there has been an increase of "sportswear brand and designer collaborations in the retail market". [26] 

In conclusion, sportswear, having been originally built for a purpose, has seen the light and is now something more than just a set of practical garments. Runway designers and collaborations have seen these garments reach a level of style designed to be worn on a day-to-day basis. Sport collaboration ranges, such as Adidas-McCartney's, are executed with such care that the blend of sports and fashion truly becomes a fashionable must-have; their purpose extends to cover more than exercise.

III) Design Research

With the account of inspirations, observations and scope illustrated previously, this section puts a focus on the most important area where more details regarding the concept of my collection are presented. Further information such as silhouette, colour, key items, materials, patterns and details of my design are also included.

As mentioned earlier, my collection is heavily influenced by specialized sportswear for sport activities, such as swimming, bicycling and running. However, sportswear often lack femininity, therefore, more femininity has been added by adding bustier details and sex appeal to the design. For instance, the silhouette is form-fitted and sleek with minimal lines, emphasizing both comfort and utility. In addition to increase the femininity of the design, the collection needs to include wide shoulders that lays emphasis on power and energy.

Key Items

Leggings, shorts, jackets and dresses are used as cut-away details, while racer-back and coloured-blocked and graphic print dresses are key items. These key items serve as items are common in sportwear. Other items that used are wide-shouldered blazers and jackets, back racer tops, fit-and-sleek dresses and cut away pants and skirts.

Colours

The usage of colours is important for designing garments, therefore studying the forecast of colour trends for the following seasons is significant. Forecast for Fall/Winter 2012-13 include colours that are simple but embraces a sense of elegance such as neige, camel, brown, navy, gold while hay and olive are used as combination colours. Further, colours of a natural tone such as ecru, leather, wood, pebble, moss.green also is also expected to be fashionable. These colours make garments look rather modern, elegant, stable, calm or professional. Since winter is viewed as being dark and mysterious, nocturnal colours is expected to be in trend, such as nocturnal.shades. in blue, green, grey and wine-red. Lastly, bright colours such as red, orange, green, cobalt blue gives off a more optimistic image to the garment. According to the trend forecast by pattern bank, Spring/Summer trends in 2013 will focus on being brighter, livelier colours which are compatible with the season. [27] The colour trend will focus on Vibrant glow which include colours such as Acid Yellow, Fluorescent touches, dark undertones, indigo blue, Microscopic Colour ,Underwater Tropics.

Colours used in my collection are primary and bright colours that are expected to be in trend during Fall/ Winter and vibrant glow colours in the Spring/Summer. Though bright colours are generally energizing, passionate, optimism and spirit, black and white colours are chosen to keep the collection classy and elegant.

Prints and Patterns

Aside from colours that represents different images for my collection, geometric, digital prints and pixilated prints are being used as prints and patterns As mentioned earlier, elements from the architecture of Olympic stadium are presented in my collection. The architecture elements for instance the geometric construction of the stadium is first dissected and separated, following by transforming these elements to form shapes lines and to the garment. For example the triangle shape as a V- neck line, circle as a neck-line, waist band or cuff. The Olympic symbols like Olympic ring, Coca-Cola beat box are transformed, flipped, rotated and using mirror design and pattern in Photoshop to give a contemporary touch.

Other details added in my designs are sport-element influenced designs with a combination of sophisticated tailoring and wide-shouldered tracksuit. As for sport cuts details, exposed zippers, utility pockets, flaps, straps, pin tuck are used to imitate rib knit cuff and collar to give more sophisticated look. Detail piping are also used. The bright and bold colours are used to create a contrast with the usage of Luxury -based fabrics: silk duchess, silk organdy, sheer stretch silk and Lycra or Spandex.

Fabric

The choice of fabric is indeed essential to the garment since it does not only create comfort for the wearer, but it also represents characteristics for them. My personal choice for fabric is Lycra or Spandex which adds sensuality, shapely-fit, all-over stretched and comfort. This fabric is commonly used to create sportswear. Further, I also chose silk in order to turn sportswear garments into a city-attire with luxurious appeal. Silk can certainly increase a clear feminine aspect to garment. With these choices of fabric, the design of the garment is slouchy and luxurious with a powerful contemporary touch in materials.

With the combination of the design research conducted, these lead to the concept of my design which embraces a sense of elegance, trendiness, sensibility as well as comfortableness with the usage of key items and fabric. Additionally, the usage of colours is essential to portray characterizations of the wearer, while prints and patterns on the garment have the ability to attach more stylish and trendy elements to the design.

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Concept Development

Deliverable Development

Deliverable (Pictorial Representation)

Timeline and Budget

Diary Events

Reflections

Appendix