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In Defence of the Nineties: The Tracksuit

Setting the record straight on the ever-divisive subject of 90s style

It’s a little-known and oft-whispered fact that The Sopranos, which turned 21 this year, ranks amongst the one of the greatest TV shows that I’ve never actually seen. It belongs to a short list, admittedly, but an unforgivable one nonetheless. It includes The Wire and Deadwood, too, should you require any more disappointment, disgust and/or indignation with which to season your Monday.

Where was I? Ah yes; I’ve never seen The Sopranos, but I know it, in some inutterable, inarticulable way. It’s so deeply rooted in the peripheries of my childhood memories that I feel like I’ve grown up watching the show without ever having seen a single episode. Such is its presence, I guess. Such is its visual clout. 

At least part of said clout is down to the show’s wardrobe, which offers up a real who’s who Italian leisurewear legends. From familiar faces like Fila to Sergio Tacchini to the more exclusive and elusive names of Genelli, Alan Stuart and Cicero, The Sopranos offers up an impressive, velour-clad testament to timeless style and ease.

The Sopranos ain’t alone in that respect. The tracksuit is every bit as synonymous with the wise guy as is, say, the three piece suit and the sawed-off shotgun. Think Reservoir Dog’s Nice Guy Eddie, Donnie Brasco’s Lefty and Goodfellas’ Henry Hill for further visual representations of the corruptible, contemptible but presumably oh-so-comfortable crooks of cinema’s most criminal clans.

The Sopranos last aired back in 2007, which makes me 13 years late to the party and counting. But no matter. It doesn’t detract from the show’s core message that the humble tracksuit will forever represent the perfect attire for sitting around, minding your own business, and generally just not stirring the pot.

Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I have some catching up to do.