When I was at school, I considered it a badge of honour to say that I skipped P.E. lessons by lying about period pains. I scowled at the sporty types for their perfect hockey/netball/rounders/tennis skills. I was outwardly proud of the fact that I got picked last for most team sports. This was all part of my defense mechanism against the "mainstream". To like or be good at sports was populist and rubbish. Everything associated with being "active" was a total turn-off to my physically inactive self. To loaft around at home watching My So-Called Life repeat marathons, read Bret Easton Ellis or teach myself HTML on my dial-up broadband felt way cooler than working out in the gym, going for a jog or wanting to be healthy. To deliberately avoid brands like Umbro, Kappa and Nike was my way of fighting back against the sportswear brand-touting "townies" or the "chavs" on the bus, who would shout things like "Ching chang chong!" at me as I meekly buried my head in a book or pushed the volume up higher on my mini disc player. Moaning at the TV when anything sports-related was on, giving the finger to sportswear stores and deliberately not trying or not bothering to lift a limb when faced with physical activity because "I CAN'T DO IT!" or "I SUCK AT THIS" was all classic Kevin the Teenager behaviour, which I look back upon and cringe.
Somewhere in ensuing decade or so, something changed. As someone who officially loafts around in front of the computer for a living, it's suddenly all the more important to want to move. Sudden urges to run just to wake my body up from a Macbook Meltdown resulted in my running a my first half marathon last year. Every opportunity that has been presented to me where I got to try out physical activities, which once scared or turned me off – cycling around London on a Tweed Run, trying out surfing with Nike out in Orange Country or most recently hitting a few balls with a coach from the All England Club with Lacoste at Babington House for their 80th anniversary – lo and behold, I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I wasn't great at any of it but that's besides the point. Using up neurones. Moving. Feeling like I don't have to just be the cliched loafter nerd, who stays indoors tweaking HTML, reading indie auteur books and listening to obscure MP3s, is in fact exhilarating stuff. As is avoiding another tired and ghastly trope, which supposedly says that fashion people are allergic to sports. The types that sneer at football. They declare the Olympic Games to be boring. They joke that their exercise is to go walking up and down in heels and walking the streets to shop.
How then to marry that old chestnut up with the fact that year after year, another sport or active subculture gets appropriated into high fashion, so much so that the clothes not just become sportswear-inspired by that you wind up wearing actual sportswear. One season it's surf. Another it's climbing/hiking gear. This year it seems, it's all about skate (Beach in the East's Dogtown and Z-Boys-inspired pop-up stock is now on FarFetch by the by…). Or witness the rise of trainers where you actually get people debating amongst themselves about the merits of Nike Air Max vs. New Balance. It's an aesthetic that has shaken up fashion in the last few years, so much so that it may not be just a temporary trend – so ingrained is it with lifestyle that the instinct to dress down an ornate piece of attire with the swift and speedy tool of a sweatshirt, a hoodie or a pair of trainer could well be lasting.
The change in my own attitude towards physical activity and sports, has gone hand in hand with a real shake-up in my wardrobe where activewear – clothes that are either sports-inspired or is actual sportswear – now take up a large percentage. You could see it as a faddy trend-led development but I know that there's some direct correlation between these clothes you see here and the number of miles I'm running, the number of times I'm now up for physical activities and my overall interest level in sports. That's on top of the fact that generally speaking, I like the way the injection of sportswear and activewear relaxes an outfit and neatly avoids any notion of that stiletto-wearing, ultra-girlie fashionista clich√©. The fact of the matter is that I'm no longer the allergic-to-sports dork, which I was so proud to be, and the clothes that I wear reflects that. It's not an entirely orthodox representation of sportswear but how much fun to have this active strand in my wardrobe, alive, beating and pumping away, so that I can go about my day rapidly.
Joe Duke customised denim jacket for Beach in the East, Shaun Samson felted stripe sweater, Facetasm shorts, Christopher Kane brocade pool sandals
Oh and if I'm still feeling like sitting indoors and doodling away, these marker pen and ink bottles created by Krink NYC for Marc Jacobs' Bookmarc are definitely fun to use…
Doodling next to a C√©cile t-shirt