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Sport v Fashion at Liverpool Walker Gallery

By Phil Thornton 


This exhibition has been loaned from the V&A and unfortunately you can tell. What may impress the London style industry and media doesn’t necessarily transfer to the region that, more than any other, did more to forge cultural links between sport and fashion during the late 70s and early 80s. Yes, that’s partisan and biased but still true. Essentially what we have here is a typically threadbare account of how sport and fashion have ‘interfaced’ maaan!


Split into four elements; Dare, Display, Play and Desire the exhibition takes a shallow look at technological, cultural developments with possibly some of the worst trainers known to man on display to demonstrate how ‘collecting’ has become y’know a symbol of the post-industrial zeitgeist. The only thing that took our fancy was the display of Fila shmutter, which although pretty clichéd and contrived these days, nevertheless demonstrated how sports brands ‘accidentally’ became fashion brands; accidental in that it took the scallys and the casuals to adopt these garments for them to become ‘fashionable.’  They weren’t designed with this purpose in mind and this ofcourse continued with the adoption of golfing, tennis, skiing, yachting, mountaineering and other ‘leisure/sports’ trends in the 80s and 90s.  


No mention of this ofcourse, infact there’s very little context to any of the items on display. Apart from a Stone Island jacket and a suitably daft pair of customised Adidas, there’s hardly anything of interest to even the most ardent fan of cutting edge sports and casualwear.  A wasted opportunity to present what, in the right hands (Ok ‘OUR’ hands!) could have been a visually and culturally exciting examination of how sports and fashion have interacted with each other over the past decades.      











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