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Sweatpants are a casual variety of soft trousers intended for comfort or athletic purposes, although they are now worn in many different situations. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa they are known as tracksuit bottoms. In Australia and New Zealand, they are also commonly known as trackpants, trackies or tracky daks.
The first pair of sweatpants was introduced in the 1920s by Émile Camuset, the founder of Le Coq Sportif. These were simple knitted gray jersey pants that allowed athletes to stretch and run comfortably.
Sweatpants are usually made from cotton or polyester, often of a heavy knit. They often have elastic in the waistband, drawstrings, and may or may not have pockets. Some sweatpants can also feature elasticized cuffs at the hem of the leg. Sweatpants are traditionally ash gray in color but are now available in most colors. Traditionally quite "baggy" and loose, sweatpants are now also available in more form-fitting shapes; moreover, they have flexibility and comfort.
Once these practical pants were only worn for sporting events and at home. Now, they are available in many fashionable styles and are worn in a variety of public situations. Because of their comfort and fashion, they have become a popular choice of clothing. Sweatpants may come from many different materials and in many forms including thick and thin. Sweatpants are sometimes associated with certain lifestyles such as gym culture or hip-hop culture. This niche-specific perception of sweatpants since the 1980s has at times resulted in extensive dress code regulations with some outlets outright banning the wearing of sweatpants on their premises; including some German cafes and a substantial number of nightclubs worldwide.
There are many variations on sweatpants design that have evolved to define their own categories of athletic pants. These variations include fashion pants, windpants, tearaway pants, and muscle pants.
Fashion pants typically refers to fashion conscious sportswear. These pants are often made from a variety of materials, like velvet or satin, and in many color combinations or patterns. One distinguishing characteristic is that fashion pants generally lack the elastic band at the ankles. They are considered a form of athleisure wear.
Windpants are similar to sweatpants but are lighter and shield the wearer from cold wind rather than insulate. Windpants are typically made of polyester or nylon, with a liner made of cotton or polyester. The nylon material's natural friction against both itself and human legs makes "swooshing" sounds during walking. Windpants often have zippers on each ankle, letting athletes unzip the end of each leg, allowing the pants to be pulled over their footwear.
Tearaway pants, also known as breakaway pants, rip-off pants, or popper pants are closely related to windpants. Tearaway pants are windpants with snap fasteners running the length of both legs. The snaps allow athletes to remove their tearaway pants in a timely manner to compete in some sports. Basketball and track and field are the two sports most commonly associated with tearaway pants.
- Lisa Pryor (25 October 2002). "In her tracky daks, a Hollywood star turns invisible". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
Naomi Watts: 'I look like a completely different person when I just wake up and get my tracky daks on'
- VanHooker, Brian (November 24, 2017). "The Cultural History of Sweatpants". Mel Magazine. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
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- Sportswomen's Apparel Around the World. New Femininities in Digital, Physical and Sporting Cultures. 2021. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-46843-9. ISBN 978-3-030-46842-2.