At Usher’s 2024 Super Bowl halftime show, fashion’s flirtation with motocore all but peaked. Joined onstage by Ludacris and Lil Jon in matching Off-White™ motocross-inspired suits, complete with grippy gloves, Usher looked like he was about to hop into Gran Turismo (the movie or the game, your choice).
In the stands above, Kim Kardashian watched the game in a leather Balenciaga race jacket over a pair of matching knee pad-fitted pants, garments inspired by the gear worn by racecar drivers that’ll never see the inside of a car that goes above 50 mph.
Yes, fashion’s obsession with moto gear is peaking.
Call it a passing fling with Formula 1, a deeper fixation on race clothes, or cultural appropriation of the least-serious kind but don’t deny that it’s here and here to stay. At least for a little while.
The popularity of racing gear is multifaceted.
On one hand, this stuff is so specific and typically made a certain way for a reason — Kim doesn’t need knee pads on her pants any more than Travis Scott needs to protect his noggin with a helmet. But a racecar driver would obviously need both of those things.
And then there’s the small fact that, well, moto gear just looks cool. Stuff that’s designed for utility typically does (some militaria and outdoorsy layering pieces have lasted generations for this reason alone).
So though it’s nice that these motocross gloves are functional and PUMA’s Mostro sneaker have a low-cut, grippy design that makes them useful for putting pedal to metal, the appeal isn’t in the function but the fashion.
The moto fixation is not new to 2024, though this is the year it hits a fever pitch. Balenciaga was one of several brands sending race-ready boots down its Fall/Winter 2023 runway but it was one of the first to properly boost Alpinestars.
Designers as disparate as emerging Korean brand Andersson Bell, New York’s Heron Preston, Paris’ Casablanca, Japan’s AMBUSH, and the enigmatic fashion pranksters of Vetements have all tinkered with racing gear as fashion, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Brands young and old are dipping into the F1-adjacent well.
There’s also real thirst for actual automotive gear, like vintage Harley Davidson T-shirts and Mercedes-Benz caps but that’s pretty evergreen.
What’s new is a real doubling-down on clothes that racecar drivers and motocross daredevils wear: helmets, gloves, leather jackets, matching pants, grippy boots.
Look no further than streetwear OG Supreme, which is dropping a collaborative Ducati motorbike, plus helmet, for Spring/Summer 2024. It’s hardly Supreme’s premiere moto collab — Fox Racing, anyone? — but it is a sign of the times.
With F1 legend Lewis Hamilton crossing over as a style icon as he also crosses over to a new F1 team and fashion killa A$AP Rocky overseeing PUMA’s F1 collections, the jig is officially up: racing is fashion, fashion is racing.