I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview Sam Winton, a friend of mine who not only is a student and rower here at St Andrews, but also happens to be the founder of the sportswear and athleisure range Here For Sport.
So, what exactly is Here For Sport? I had to hear the whole story of how Sam founded his project and brand, and he explained its humble origins to me in great detail. In his first year of uni at St Andrews, Sam joined the university’s boat club, and went home for Christmas after the first semester absolutely loving it. Sam explained to me that rowing had been a sport he had wanted to try prior to uni but did not have the means to do so, be it time or money. He explained that this is a common issue among many groups of people, and that not being able to partake in sports “is quite a big problem we need to tackle…we need to ask people why they’re not getting into sport,” and what the barriers are, such as money or identity.
Sam explained “as a gay man, I perceived it [sport] to be hostile – although it’s not. Sport is inherently inclusive, based upon how much you train and how much you put into it.” However, he noted that this isn’t always the case with sports. Some athletes face barriers, such as not being able to financially afford the sport, or not being included based upon ethnicity, gender, or identity. For example, why do some sports – such as rugby or rowing have certain stereotypes? Sam says that we should be able to challenge that – which is what the brand Here For Sport is aiming to do with its range of clothing.
In May of 2019, Sam sat down to begin brainstorming how to use clothing as a public expression of inclusivity in sport and to make Here For Sport a reality, not just an idea. Inspired by the organisation Rowing For Healthy Minds, Sam worked closely with the clothing brand Rival Kit and one of its founders, Jenny Stevenson, based in Edinburgh to design the first range of clothing for Here For Sport. He explained that the founders of Rival Kit also started as students at Edinburgh University, making the partnership that much sweeter. The result was a line of two jumpers, joggers, and a baselayer characterised by neutral colours, simple lines, and the minimalistic, yet striking logo. Sam explains that the logo’s colour and design also have meaning – the figures of the logo are connected by one, unbroken line to signify the motto of Here For Sport – to promote inclusivity in sport and to be a continuous champion for change.
Despite being a relatively new brand, Here For Sport has already enjoyed recent success in such a short time. In October, it was one of the sponsors of the university’s Opening Ball, providing sunglasses for every attendee of the ball, which was an absolute hit. Sam has also planned a new LGBTQ+ range set to be released at the end of November/beginning of December. Like the original range, the new range is also ethically made and made of recycled material to minimise impact on the environment. It also follows the trend of the original line, honing in on simple colours and subtle symbols – in this case, a pink triangle to represent the LGBTQ+ community. Sam says, the point of the range is to “make a statement, not a spectacle,” because there is a difference. He has also planned to release a much-anticipated Women’s Range, set to be released in March of 2019, just in time for BUCS’ campaign This Girl Can, and International Women’s Day. Furthermore, he has many long-term goals planned for Here For Sport, such as working on joint events with the university’s Athletic Union, that will hopefully debut by fall of 2019. Even bigger, Sam has planned for the brand to go international by its second year, to move manufacturing from Pakistan to the UK, and to partner with bigger sports apparel brands such as Adidas.
Currently, he is working on the new ranges and to gain more exposure for Here For Sport. He has been in contact with UK Sport, British Rowing, and has even written a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to garner support for Here For Sport. So what can we do as students? Sam explains that wearing the clothing is visually showing support for the brand, and supporting people who aren’t necessarily the stereotype of a certain sport. In addition to being able to purchase the apparel, you can also donate directly to the organisation. Like Sam said, “Clothing is a great vehicle for change and you can see that throughout history.” His brand isn’t just about comfort or fashion, but is so much more. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Here For Sport, and how the brainchild of one student’s passion for sport has used fashion as a vehicle for change and inclusivity.
You can shop the line here or donate/support at: https://www.hereforsport.com/shop