Iconic Athletes Turned Fashion Icons: Their Impact on the Fashion World

Sport and fashion have gone together for nearly a century. From the comfortable, floaty attire of the 1920s, which was based loosely on clothing that was developed for sports participation and which suited both men and women of the day, to what is now a complete full circle whereby elite stars can often be more noticed for what they model off the pitch, court or track than how they perform on it.

But even without having to follow the route of launching their own brands and spending any additional time that inevitably has to be devoted to the art of fashion design and promotion, some of the biggest fashion icons come from the world of sport purely based on what they wear and how they look.

With the rise and rise of social media, athletes from various sports can show off their styles – from high couture to streetwear to leisurewear clothing – to an army of millions upon millions of fans worldwide.

René Lacoste

René Lacoste

René Lacoste, the legendary tennis player who started the well-known brand Lacoste, is one of the pioneers in this crossover. Popular for his dominance on the tennis court in the 1920s, Lacoste revolutionized tennis clothing by introducing the comfortable yet fashionable polo shirt.

His renowned design, which featured the trademark crocodile logo, quickly became an icon of fashion, moving easily from the tennis court to daily wear. Lacoste's creativity established a precedent for the mutually beneficial relationship between athleticism and fashion, preparing

Fred Perry

It was 70 years ago when the first British tennis player to have won all four Grand Slam events gave his name to something as little as a sweatband. That simple act has turned out to be the first product of a whole clothing brand that encompasses its now-famous polo shirts, jackets, and even footwear.

The signature polo was launched as a simple white affair for tennis playing at Wimbledon in 1952. It was an instant success – so much so that as demand increased, more colors were released and now Fred Perry is one of the largest brands of both sportswear and casualwear and is hugely popular with other sports stars such as Andy Murray and Bradley Wiggins – the latter having launched his own collection within the Fred Perry brand in 2015. Even new stars from the world of music have become involved with the brand through collaborative designs.

Serena Williams

From a legendary tennis great of the past to one of the greatest of the modern era – Williams has amassed no less than 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other player in the Open Era.

The second-most in the history of the women’s game, and she is now capitalizing on her success on the court and transferring it to the world of fashion design with her label S by Serena.

She had previously worked with both Nike and HSN and has used that experience in fashion collabs to develop her own unique range of both casual and formal women’s wear, with messages of self-love and confidence at its heart in an industry that is fast becoming more inclusive of all types of figures.

Michael Jordan

Speaking of whom, it would be criminal to leave out basketball's Greatest Of All Time from discussing the best athletes who served as fashion icons in the 1990s. He is largely recognized for dominating that decade's men's fashion scene. For decades, he was the favorite of betting fans. He took the Chicago Bulls team to new heights and made them the favorite team of sports fans. Many people developed an interest in the NBA and betting due to him. Fans who are still into betting on the NBA can check the Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code before placing their bets.

The most well-known figure in the fashion industry for his multibillion-dollar partnership with Nike and the Air Max line of sneakers—which recently gained attention thanks to a $1.5 million auction sale—MJ was also known for his ability to effortlessly style bold knitwear jumpers, crazy pattern-print shirts, and striped beach shorts when he wasn't at the designer tables.

Lebron James

LeBron James is another basketball genius who has made a lasting impression on the fashion world. Along with his outstanding skills on the court, James' fashion businesses have been defined by bold declarations and elegant attire.

The debut of his clothing lines and partnerships with high-end brands have shown his adaptable sense of style and captivated audiences worldwide. James is seen as a trendsetter and tastemaker in the fashion industry, and his influence goes beyond the basketball court.

David Beckham

One of the best football players to have ever played for Manchester United and England, this man can instantly make any piece of clothing into an incredibly glamorous and desired look just by wearing it himself. He even flaunted one for the photographers.

David Beckham is a style icon that can wear anything and look his best: sneakers and a tee shirt paired with a denim shirt, ripped jeans, a tracksuit, and a beanie. Classic styles never go out of style, and it seems fashion houses can't get enough of the man himself, who has collaborated with Kim Jones, Dior, and Calvin Klein, besides expanding out into the fragrance business.Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe is a rising star in women's football who embodies empowerment and individuality. Her bold approach to style aligns with her vocal support of inclusivity and equality. Whether on the red carpet or in photo shoots, Rapinoe's bold fashion choices challenge traditional notions of beauty, encouraging a new generation to embrace individuality and self-assurance via style.

Their Influence on the Fashion World

Beyond personal style, the impact of famous athletes who have transformed into fashion icons extends to a societal movement towards diversity, self-expression, and breaking conventional norms. Their ability to easily move between the worlds of fashion and sports has rewritten what it means to be a fashion icon in society and expanded the reach of athletic influence.

Also, the popularity of social media has increased the influence and reach of these former athletes who are now fashion moguls. These icons now have a direct channel to express their style, interact with their followers, and increase their influence thanks on platforms like Instagram, which has democratized fashion and increased its accessibility to a wider audience.

A new generation of influencers has come into being due to the union of fashion and athletics: athletes who have surpassed their respective fields to become recognized figures in the fashion industry. Their impact extends beyond apparel; it represents a culture change that values individuality, empowerment, and diversity.

These athletes' influence will last for generations as they push the boundaries of fashion, creating trends and encouraging people to accept their individuality with confidence and style.

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About the Author

Alex Nickson

Alex is our writer, specialised in luxury and style. He is passionate about discovering original luxury brands and emerging fashion designers.

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