Style The Rugby Shirt is Here to Stay

The Rugby Shirt is Here to Stay

Anna Frattini

The rugby shirt – since its inception – carries with it the charm of the uniform of a sport born around 1830 at the famous Rugby School in Warwickshire, England. Over the years, we’ve seen it worn by artists and celebrities of all kinds, and now it seems to have confirmed itself as one of the trends of this season. Unforgettable is the rugby shirt worn by Kanye West for the launch of The College Dropout, which we’ve recently seen also worn by his daughter North. A passing of the torch that crowns the rapper’s daughter as one of the youngest style icons of our time. Clearly, Kanye and North are not the only ones to endorse this trend. From the 1960s to today, others who have worn it include David Hockney, Mick Jagger, Princess Diana, and contemporary influencer trendsetters like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner, down to the less stylish but certainly influential Taylor Swift. Let’s trace the history of this iconic garment, strong in its preppy and timeless cool charm.

@sussan_mourad North West recreated dad Kanye West’s look from his “The College Dropout” Era in Tokyo with @Kim Kardashian @Kim and North #northwest #kimandnorth #kimandnorthwest #north #kanyewest #northandkanye #ye #kimkardashian #kardashians #sussanmourad #celebritynews #entertainmentnews ♬ Good Vibes (Instrumental) – Ellen Once Again

The history of the rugby shirt

The essential design, the thick white polo collar, and the rigid cotton are typical features of traditional rugby shirts. Not always striped, we can also find them in solid colors or with particular patchwork designs. Going back to history, Nike – on the occasion of the 2003 Rugby World Cup – revolutionized the uniforms of the English national team by introducing for the first time a synthetic fabric, keeping up with the times to improve the team’s performance. Rugby shirts, on the other hand, were already enjoying a true leisurewear boom in the 1970s, as Lorenzo Ottone defines it in Domus.

Françoise Hardy e Mick Jagger, Londra, Luglio 1965 | Credit: Jean-Marie Périer/Photo12

From Mick Jagger to David Hockney

Mick Jagger, as early as 1965, subverts the idea of the rugby shirt by wearing it in a context far removed from sports, alongside Françoise Hardy. In the 1970s, after the peak of the hippie movement, it seemed essential to return to the essentiality of classic American, but especially English, style. According to Ottone, brands like GAP, Gant, Ralph Lauren, but also Tommy Hilfiger, Beams, Drake’s, and L.L. Bean, paved the way for two foundational trends of the 1980s: Preppy and Yuppie. One of the most fascinating images of the 1970s, in relation to this theme, is the cover of David Hockney by David Hockney where the artist self-portrays wearing a horizontally striped rugby shirt.

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Un post condiviso da Clayton Chambers (@spr.ezza)

A trend that cyclically returns

Returning to the contemporary scene, the trend of rugby shirts has come and gone many times. After all, even JW Anderson and Dries Van Noten have revived this garment in their spring collections for this year. The timeless allure of a piece like this lies in its history and – as mentioned above – in the charm of the uniform. At the same time, we are convinced that another reason is the continual subversion of the idea of the rugby shirt, extracted from the sports context to land in the effortlessly cool streetwear of yesteryears and today. In conclusion, we can say that if we consider rugby shirts as a returning trend, they are most likely here to stay.

Written by Anna Frattini
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