Should We Get Rid Of The “No Sportswear” Rule In Clubs?

If a club won’t let you in because you’re wearing a pair of Adidas, it’s going to be shit anyway.

Whether your mate’s flashing their Yeezys instead of some generic smart shoes or your flatmate is out in shorts on a hot night, we all know someone who’s night has been ruined by an arrogant bouncer turning them away based on the way they’re dressed. Back in the olden days you could tell who was who by the way they dressed but how is can you tell in an age where everyone’s wearing the same trainers.

In some ways, the dress code is dying out. High end establishments with a history of wealth and splendour such as The Ritz allow you to wear jeans, which makes sense seeing as a designer pair could cost you over £5000 pounds. But many bars and clubs across the UK still enforce a strict dress code which isn’t what you want when you’re just trying to have an easy one night escape from your busy work life.


Fallowfield’s not-so-popular iQ bar recently shut down seven short months after opening and had a strict no sportswear policy. We’re not saying that this is the only reason that the business failed but we reckon it would’ve had a bit of an impact as the location is a primary spot for students, many of whom would be fashion conscious sports trend loving individuals. Obviously the close may have been more to do with other factors (such as their awful social media and design skills) but we’re definitely not ruling it out. A market research report by Euromonitor International saw the ‘athleisure’ trend becoming the dominant driver of fashion sales in 2015 with Adidas being the main sports apparel brand.

Surely it would make more sense to allow people to wear whatever they feel comfortable in on all levels. With the “no sportswear” reasoning, club owners would prefer someone to turn up in a rank old jacket than a pristine designer tracksuit. But this isn’t necessarily a war on fashion. It’s about what the clothing represents.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Alex Proud of Camden’s popular Proud Galleries stated:

Sometimes, a person’s clothes reveal a lot about their likely behaviour. Boys in shorts, with short-sleeved shirts – are they going to be rowdy? We don’t want to see violence inside the club, or boys chasing or looking at girls all night long. We try to wheedle out the boys who will hassle girls.


Personally I don’t see how it’s fair to guess the mood, opinions and personality of a person entirely on their outfit choice, a person with anger issues and bad intentions could easily whip on a suit to blend in. Notable designer Nasir Mazhar who has previously collaborated on a line of with Skepta as well as many collections of sports inspired fashion doesn’t agree either:

Perhaps it’s not so subtly due to tracksuits and sportswear being stereotypically connected with the working class. This is because nuisance poor people are all ruffians descended from Fagin’s cronies who exist purely to cause everyone else trouble and definitely not anything to do with unfair middle and upper class prejudices*.

Unfortunately the narrow minded tend to associate sportswear with the not so flattering image of a roadman or chav. If for some reason you live in outer space or the US, the definition of chav is “a young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of (real or imitation) designer clothes” and it’s not meant as a term of endearment.

In his book titled Chavs: The Demonization Of The Working Class, writer Owen Jones introduces the topic by asking:

How has hatred of working-class people become so socially acceptable? Privately educated, multi-millionaire comedins dress up as chavs for our amusement in popular sitcoms such as Little Britain. Our newspapers eagerly hunt down horror stories about ‘life among the chavs’ and pass them off as representative of working-class communities. () It seems as though working-class people are the one group in society you can say practically anything about.

You wouldn’t refuse entry to or a woman wearing a headscarf for religious reasons (unless you’re working at Temple Bar) at least for fear of being called out for prejudice and at most out of respect for other human beings. Perhaps refusing entry to those wearing the supposed uniform of the working class is just another way to ridicule to them as it’s still an acceptable way to be a bigot.

Some London venues have found a way to turn this minute rule into a full blown scam. This was a review that was left about the warehouse-style Egg venue in King’s Cross on TripAdvisor:

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Sounds like a fun night. That’s at least two expensive cocktails and a couple of shots down the drain in exchange for the world’s worst t-shirt.

Let’s not ruin a decent weekend, if clubs are choosing to be picky with who they let in, then potentially we should be equally picky with where we choose to party. If they don’t want the public wearing what they want, make it members only and enforce dress codes that way. Funding places with outdated and classist rules is just going to allow them to ruin other people’s nights over and over again.

Whenever you’re feeling down for being turfed out, remember that Justin Timberlake was denied entry twice to Manchester’s The Circle Club for supposedly being dressed incorrectly. Also take a minute to remember that Leo Dicaprio got kicked out of Disney for pissing down a waterslide. Everyone still loves him and at least you’re not pissing everywhere, right?

*This star means that I was being sarcastic, I’ve included this note as a disclaimer for idiots. No apologies for any offence caused.


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