Wearing it on your sleeve: using design for representation in sport

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approaches, diversity and inclusion remains an issue for elite sport. But at the community level, clubs are taking matters into their own hands, using branding and kit design to remake sport in their own image

After creating T-shirts for Queer Running Club (QRC), founder Kole Fulmine and designer Hannah Dickins began to see people wearing them – not on their way to the park or a club run, but “just walking around doing their groceries”, Dickins says. As something that previously “just wouldn’t happen”, the pair started to identify a shift to sports clubs edging towards being “a bit cooler”. Spotting the T-shirt around east London seemed to show that membership was “something they are really proud of”, says Fulmine.

Perhaps this is less surprising when clubs like QRC design to members’ cultural touchpoints over those of traditional sport. Fulmine, also a personal trainer, researcher and writer, founded QRC after finding a lack of queer representation in other clubs, and in contrast to some “very serious clubs”, they wanted QRC to be “a place where the queer community can come to meet one another”.

Dickins, a signwriter, graphic designer and artist, took inspiration for QRC’s neon-veined identity from raves and nightlife, long queer community safe spaces. The designs also skew “intergalactic”, inspired by – “I don’t know if we want to print this”, Fulmine interjects – “Tron”. Sessions take place in the dark most of the year, points out Dickins; the T-shirts display the QRC lettermark wrapped around a glowing moon.

Queer Running Club
Top and above: Queer Running Club T-shirts and branding