The textile industry was introduced to America in the 19th century from England. But the apparel industry is an American creation at the turn of the 20th century in the Greater Boston area by Jewish tailors. Prior to their efforts garments were made individually for each person by dressmakers. In ancient times, people exercised in their street clothes. Professional athletes, such as those in the ancient Olympics, competed in the nude, presumably because clothing restricted movement.
It was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that a leisure class evolved that could take part in sports for sport's sake. The first modern Olympics in 1896 involved mainly upper class athletes who wore very rudimentary clothing, similar to a union suit or a T-shirt and shorts for track and field events.
In 1940s and 1950s after 2nd world war, developments in science made new fibres/ fabrics available. For example, nylon, first used by the military, began to be used in running shorts and wind-suits. These synthetic fibers made it easy to mass produce activewear items, and also to create clothing to meet the needs of the particular activity, such as concealed hoods and pockets, removable linings and water- and wind-resistant gear.
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About the Authors:
P.Karthik is an M.Tech from the Govt. Sri Krishnarajendra Silver Jubilee Technological Institute, Bangalore.
H.R.Arunkumar is an Assistant Professor at the Govt. Sri Krishnarajendra Silver Jubilee Technological Institute, Bangalore.