The evening session entitled ‘Fashion Connection’ at the IFF ’10 was split into two halves. The first half had a set of eminent panelists discussing the equation between sports and fashion. Subhinder Singh, MD, Reebok India anchored the debate beginning with his observation, “The line between sports and fashion is blurring.”
He further set the mood for the discussion by putting forward the two languages in India as cricket and Bollywood. Singh not only drove home the fact that IPL teams are now owned by popular celebrities, he also stressed on the fact that Indians are growing gizmo freaks, and a brand like Reebok is trying to cash upon the various opportunities. Drawing an example from another popular sport and its fashion icon, Hemchandra Javeri, chairman, Fashion Alliance observed, “Sania Mirza has made the fitness gears popular among women.”
Tarun Puri, MD, Nike India expressed, “Sportswear and sports lifestyle merchandise for that matter is a nascent category that is currently developing in India.” Moving on with various other examples, he urged the retailers to create a heritage of sports or a culture for the same to which the consumers can identify with. At this point he stressed, “It is also very important to create a connect with the middle class.”
Taking the notion forward, Rajiv Mehta, MD, Puma India said, “A sports lifestyle brand should first establish its credentials in the field of sports before moving on to the fashion category. Puma has been educating people about high fashion sportswear through the various innovative campaigns across the world.” He also brought in the paradox as to how positioning sportswear as high lifestyle fashionwear can be challenging particularly in the Indian market. Here Puri suggested, “A replica of a Manchester United jersey should have the elements a sports lover can connect to or else it will be only another t-shirt.”
Lalit Kishore, MD, Lotto India, felt, “It is necessary to bring in sports into people’s lives in order to grow the market.” With a practical example, Singh concluded how Reebok has partnered with NBA (National Basketball Association) and has been planning to get kids to play basket ball in the malls to begin with, in order to popularise the sport among the masses.
— Sayanti Banerjee, Mumbai Bureau