Sporting Life Tracks the Rise of Athletic Fashion

Long before Nike and Adidas were household names and everyone owned several pairs of yoga pants and runners, people who wanted to play donned athletic fashions specially made for activity.

While full-coverage bathing suits and ankle-length tennis dresses seem a world away from today’s athletic and leisurewear, they were all the rage a century ago, and will be featured in a new exhibit at the Langley Centennial Museum.

The Sporting Life: A History of Athletic Fashions with Ivan Sayers runs at the museum from February 1 to May 18. The display will feature a riding habit from the 1870s, turn of the last century clothing made suitable for cycling, as well as skiing, fencing, swimming, and even Olympic attire.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with fashion historian Sayers for this entertaining and interesting exhibit, which will explore the roots of where today’s fashions have emerged from,” said museum curator Kobi Christian. “Sneakers, polo shirts, sports jackets, sweaters, and shorts are all part of our normal attire now, but many years ago, people were just starting to discover sports on a large scale and formal clothing was revolutionized to provide comfort and ease of movement. The Sporting Life really documents the rise of ‘athleisure’.”

The museum, located at 9135 King Street in Fort Langley, is collaborating for the first time with the Cap’s Bicycle Museum, which will provide vintage bicycles for the show. Langley Centennial Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:45pm and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:45pm. Admission is by donation.

An opening reception for The Sporting Life will be held on Saturday, February 1 from 2:00 to 4:00pm and the public is invited to attend the free event.

In conjunction with the exhibit, early athletic attire can be seen in action when two vintage fashion shows are held on Sunday, March 15, at the Fort Langley Community Hall, at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. The shows will be presented by The Sporting Life collaborator Sayers, a collector and curator of historical fashion who specializes in the study of women’s, men’s, and children’s fashions from 1700 to the present. While fashions of the past are modelled, Sayers will explain the garment, why it was important, and who wore it.

For tickets or more details, visit or contact or 604-532-3536.