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imogen
7th December 2023

Fashion in the world of Formula 1

Fashion and Formula 1 initially don’t seem to have much in common, but are they more related than you think?
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Fashion in the world of Formula 1
Credit: Digital piece by Imogen Mingos @ The Mancunion. Created using a photo by Pascal Richier @ Unsplash and graphics from Canva

When you think of the highest motorsport racing league, chances are you don’t associate it with fashion. The drivers compete in their teams’ racing suits that somewhat match their cars. Surely that’s all there is to it?

The connections between the two industries are actually more abundant than you would first imagine. Formula 1 has permeated into both high fashion and street style with drivers’ paddock outfits, merchandise, an official collection, and more. It seems that the worlds of fashion and Formula 1 are now more interlinked than ever.

The first sparks of creativity and individuality in Formula 1 that we’d recognise today emerged in the 1970s when custom designs began to appear on drivers’ helmets. This really picked up in the ’80s with legendary drivers like Senna and Piquet’s helmets featuring bold and complex designs.

Today, drivers use customised helmet designs to do everything from paying tribute to team and family members, to capturing the vibe of the circuit they’re racing at. My personal favourites this year were Yuki Tsunoda’s homage to Franz Tost, Lando Norris’ 100 races commemoration, Carlos Sainz’s Las Vegas and Fernando Alonso’s Suzuka-inspired designs, and all of the Miami helmets.

@skyeofficial

Here are the Miami helmet designs for 2023! Which one is your favourite? #miamigp #formula1 #f1 #miamif1 #f1helmets

♬ original sound – Skye Upshall

Merchandising

Advertising is a huge part of Formula 1, with brand names and logos emblazoned on everything from the car liveries themselves to the helmets and teams’ official merchandise. The official F1 store is home to merch from all of the teams, which fans have incorporated into their everyday outfits rather than only wearing it to race weekends.

The number of people wearing Ferrari and Red Bull jackets on Oxford Road has certainly increased in the past couple of years. Vinted and Depop sell dozens of vintage team jackets too, which seem to be the most popular form of Formula 1 merch seen around campus.

It’s hard to discern how much of this popularity is due to an increase in a younger generation of fans, and how much of it is owing to TikTok trends. Urban Outfitters alone sells a range of motor racing-inspired clothing, particularly motocross jackets and track tops.

This rise in racing jackets as streetwear echoes the increasing popularity of football shirts and baby tees which were trending over the summer. GQ wrote about the “robbery” of football shirts, as fans were left without merchandise after the soaring popularity of “blokecore” and the ’90s fashion revival. They also point out, however, that for fans who wear the shirts, “It’s a way to show you’re not just about conspicuous consumption and comfort with what you wear – you know about the culture too.”

Some of the most exciting news in the intersection of fashion and Formula 1 is A$AP Rocky’s PUMA x F1 collection. The rapper/creative and designer will release a limited drop before the end of this year as a preview for his main projects coming out in 2024.

His first collaboration is meant to start up properly next year at the Miami Grand Prix, with a few more releases throughout the season before a full breakthrough into everything from “Racewear to fanwear to fashion.” With little to no information on the release, it’s a complete mystery what this collection will involve – one thing we do know is it’s going to be exciting!

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton 2017 Malaysia, credit: Morio @ Wikimedia Commons

While we wait for the debut of this new collection in Miami, fans will still be able to admire celebrity outfits in the paddocks of preceding races. This season saw stars and style icons including Naomi Campbell, Priyanka Chopra, and Rihanna hanging out with the crew of their favourite teams. Whilst the celebrities only appear on screen during races very briefly, you can usually catch their full outfits on social media.

Driver Style

Formula 1 drivers themselves are also putting effort into their paddock outfits before Practice, Qualifying, and Grand Prix races. Whilst most drivers tend to wear their teams’ merchandise, Lewis Hamilton is the standout star of the show with his street style of baggy trousers and oversized jumpers or shirts from brands like Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, and Valentino.

However, honourable mentions should go to Zhou Guanyu and Lando Norris for their creative street style this year – I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what they bring to the Paddocks next year. And hopefully, other drivers will branch out from their usual team t-shirts too…

Daniel Ricciardo has showcased some stellar outfits this season, which comes as no surprise since he has his own clothing label Enchanté. The label currently comprises four collections inspired by his interests, ‘Beach Club’, ‘Café’, ‘Chalet’,  and ‘Records’, which mostly feature loungewear-inspired pieces.

‘Records’, for instance, is like an ode to his love for Texas and the Austin Grand Prix. With sweatshirts, shorts, hats, socks, and more, the brand has something available for every season. You can also buy mini-scale replicas of his Red Bull and AlphaTauri helmets, bringing home how helmets play such a significant role in the drivers’ personal branding and fashion.

You also can’t discuss fashion in Formula 1 without discussing Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time World Champion is known for being a style icon around and outside of the racetrack. Usually arriving at the paddock in his signature street style accessorised with rings, bracelets, and necklaces, Hamilton always makes an impression on fans and the media.

In 2018, he launched the clothing line TOMMYXLEWIS at NYFW and is currently an ambassador for luxury watchmakers IWC. He even made an appearance at this year’s British Fashion Awards wearing Wales Bonner’s Spring Summer 2024 bespoke tailoring with jewellery and a ceremonial brooch from their Archive.

Since joining F1 in 2007, Hamilton has been open about his creative styling and love for fashion. He tweeted in 2019 that “Fashion is something I’ve always been so passionate about” and spoke more about this in a recent interview for British GQ. He described how much Formula 1’s reception to fashion has changed in the last fifteen years: “People definitely criticised. [Formula 1] was an environment where you couldn’t really be yourself. Now you’re starting to see people really blossom, which is really cool.”

We’re also seeing an increase in exciting and unique outfits from female content creators and presenters like Lissie Macintosh and Naomi Schiff. It’s so refreshing to see women in the media expressing themselves through their fashion and style when the stereotype has always been for them to stick to corporate attire that’s not “too masculine” or “too feminine.” I’m looking forward to seeing more of this in seasons to come.

Imogen Mingos

Imogen Mingos

Head Fashion & Beauty Editor 2023-24 | Winner of Best Newcomer (The Mancunion) at SU Awards 2023 | Written for 10 sections so far spanning culture and current affairs

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