Teeping Tradition: Fashion’s Unlikely Relationship With Martial Arts


With martial arts back in the limelight, companies are now taking signatures from some of the more popular sports within the sphere. Boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai specifically are now becoming new vessels of inspiration for streetwear and high fashion brands, arguably much to the dismay of each sport’s purists.

There’s a certain amount of gatekeeping that happens both in martial arts and fashion alike, and as these new trends emerge and evolve, we’re willing to bet that they might upset some of the traditionalists who belong to each sport. For instance, in this Reddit exchange, one user asks, “is wearing Muay Thai shorts for fashion considered cultural appropriation?” while the top commenter retorts “If I catch anyone wearing Muay Thai shorts for fashion, they better know how to check a leg kick.”

Muay Thai specifically has seen arguably the most attention out of the bunch. For those unfamiliar with the sport Muay Thai or Thai boxing, it’s a martial art native to Thailand famed for being “the art of 8 limbs.” Practitioners use a mix of punches, knees, elbows, and kicks to fight their opponent in striking and clinched positions, with fights often ending in devastating fashion.

Unlike karate, judo or jiu-jitsu disciplines, Muay Thai fighters won’t wear a gi (traditional uniform) and instead opt to wear high-waisted and low-cut shorts for maximum flexibility. These shorts are often heavily colourful in design due to no ranking system existing in the sport on a traditional level. This means fighters are given free rein to wear whatever colours, patterns and designs they choose, often resulting in bright and bold additions.


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