Jan 31, 2009

Fashion - Playing the field

A velvet jacket with Swarovski detailing, a double-breasted denim jacket, a corduroy mini skirt, a trendy knit tie, a pinstriped shirt, a neon green belt studded with diamantés and pink ballerinas. It’s not just the high street that’s street-smart. You can now hit Adidas, Puma, Reebok, Lacoste and Nike stores for fashion apparel and accessories.
Lacoste has a range of formal shirts and jackets for men and women, besides trousers, jeans and ties. The Nike Sportswear (NSW) range consists of sports-inspired fashion products with prints, embroidery and more than a little bit of bling. Shelves at Puma are lined with sunglasses, belts in neon colours with chunky crystal buckles, gold clutches, comic strip-printed handbags, ballerinas and metallic sneakers. Their sports lifestyle collection is not to be worn on the field, of course.

In fact, the brand’s strategy for the Indian market is to concentrate on sports lifestyle rather than hard-core sporting equipment. “It gives us an edge over other sports brands,” says Rajiv Mehta, managing director, Puma Sports India Pvt. Ltd. Internationally, the brand has tied up with designer Alexander McQueen for a fashion line.
Sportswear has made its way out of the gym bag and into the wardrobe, and there seem to be quite a few takers for the collaboration between fashion and sports. Actor Amrita Arora’s wardrobe is dominated by brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Lululemon Athletica and Juicy Couture. She isn’t a sports enthusiast and these clothes don’t make her look like one either. It’s the “sporty chic” look that she loves. Arora wears workout tops with jeans and heels for outings with friends. “They’re made for workouts, so they hold the body together and give you a good shape,” she says. She loves the sporty, colourful apparel by Lululemon Athletica, a Canadian brand. At filmi events, she’s been seen in Juicy Couture tracksuits, sometimes even pairing black track pants with a shirt and boots. “It’s comfortable and so cool,” she says.
If hip hop stars are the penultimate in cool, then Adidas has got the formula right with its line of apparel and accessories in association with musician Missy Elliot, called “Respect M.E.”. It has Elliot’s trademark style, with rap star bling. The line sells in Adidas Originals stores worldwide and in cities such as New Delhi, Chandigarh and Bangalore. “We launched the Originals lifestyle brand at the Munich Olympics in 1972, inspired by the sports stars of the time. The line caught on so well that shoes and apparel which were seen on the field in the 1970s are now seen in music videos, movies and on celebrities at clubs and rock shows,” says Tushar Goculdas, director, marketing and sales, Adidas India.
Actor Deepika Padukone likes to wear short dresses with metallic sneakers and hoodies with three-fourth trousers, while actor Malaika Arora Khan shares her sister’s love for tracksuits. Model Nina Manuel slips on her black Puma dress with orange and white boots from the Missy Elliot line to party with friends. Or she pairs shorts and stockings with a purple halter top from Puma. “If I’m going to a bar and don’t want to dress formally, these clothes are perfect,” she says.
Fashion labels are getting sportier too. Boss Hugo Boss launched its brand Boss Green in India last year to complement its Boss Black range of formal wear. “It’s a collection for those who do business at the golf course. They wanted a choice of luxury sportswear, which wasn’t available at all,” says Harish Chandra, brand manager, Boss Hugo Boss, India. The look is simple and informal with golf T-shirts, trousers, jerseys, jackets and shoes. “Those who earlier would wear blazers to after-work parties have now switched to golf wear,” he says.
Designer Narendra Kumar’s collections for men have always had a sporty edge but his collection for Spring/Summer 2009 at Lakme Fashion Week in October 2008, took it a step further. The entire line was inspired by sportswear with formal track pants, cropped cabin jackets and denims.
India first saw a fashion-sport tie-up in 2005 when Reebok was given a psychedelic makeover by designer Manish Arora, with shoes in bright colours such as orange, pink, red, blue and silver, topped with Swarovski and sequins and also activewear under the label Fish Fry for Reebok. “The concept of high fashion meeting mainstream everyday clothing is very exciting. My experience has been fantastic and gives me the chance to explore a very different market segment,” he says. According to Arora, this trend is very big in the West and will go the same way in India. “There is a big workout culture developing all over the country and this trend is really thriving on that,” he adds.
Designer Gaurav Gupta suggests wearing Arora’s bright shoes with a short jersey dress or shorts and stockings. Gupta’s latest collection also has sporty undercurrents with jersey drapes, sweatshirts and sequinned hoodies. But he warns that it’s not a look everyone can carry and should definitely not be overdone. His tip: Accessorize sportswear with gold/silver costume jewellery. Opt for metallic and patent leather in sports shoes, but try to avoid those outdated Converse sneakers.
The next time you’re shopping for a night out, you know where to look

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