We have a new article in Sociological Review journal. Open Access PDF available here.
Convertible, multiple and hidden: The inventive lives of women’s sport and activewear 1890–1940
Abstract: Who gets to be ‘sporty’ and active in public is an enduring topic of socio-political debate. Disparities in participation continue from limited access, support and funding to ill-fitting equipment and clothing. This article focuses on the latter. Women have long been disproportionally restricted and harassed in public space not only in relation to how, where and when they move but also what they wear. I approach this issue via a unique data source – global clothing inventions for sport and athletic activities (1890–1940). Analysing convertible, multiple and hidden clothing patents, by and for women, reveals how inventors tackled ongoing socio-political restrictions to women’s freedom of movement from the ground up and, often secretly, from the inside out. I suggest these data might be read as acts of resistance, enabling wearers to move and inhabit spaces in new ways, engage in a wider range of activities and make claims to equal public participation and mobility rights. These lesser-known clothing inventions invite us below the surface of conventional sporting histories, expand ideas around the creative possibilities of sport and activewear, and spark imaginaries of what other kinds of inclusive and inventive athletic identities might be possible.