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LFW (Mumbai) & WIFW (New Delhi) the buzz of business and fashion was back in its favourite locations – Mumbai and Delhi. At both Lakme Fashion Week (Mumbai) and Wills India Fashion Week (Delhi), we discovered a great fashion synergy taking place on the creative front. The active sportswear genre is creeping into designer wear and vice versa. Sports lifestyle and apparel brands are turning to designers to give their brands that extra design edge while designers are borrowing fashion directions from the sports arena to make a new style statement for their collections.

The Designer / Sports Combine

One of the first haute couture designers to collaborate with a active sportswear brand was Manish Arora in 2006 at London Fashion Week with Reebok. Manish started with Black for easy-to-wear boots then moved to the Jungle Law range adding leather crystals and special fabrics that are so distinct in his Fish Fry label for Reebok. Priced between Rs 6000 to 20,000 the footwear comes in wild and glitzy colours like blue, pink, silver, gold, red and black and the sneakers and shoes made a very strong fashion statement like Manish’s clothes. The couture sneaker line from Manish with names from popular Bollywood blockbusters like Sholay, Dil Chahta Hai were sell outs all over the world and the Manish Arora Reebok tie-up has been the most successful combination which has encouraged other designers to step onto the relay tracks of fashion and sport.

Another designer who felt that racing on the tracks with popular fitness brands helps, is the very adventurous Aki Narula. This quirky designer who started off rather soberly after winning the Damania Designer Contest form Kolkata in 1994 and created some striking Bollywood looks for actors in the films Bunty aur Babli, Dostana, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Bachna Ae Haseena is Puma’s first Indian designer joining greats like the late Alexander McQueen, Sergio Rossi and Yazuhino Mihara. Narula was picked to design the Spring/Summer 2010 line for the brand, for a mid to premium range  for women with apparel, footwear and accessories. The garments hit the Puma store in February 2010 and the collection called Black Label has some vibrant colour mixes for cap-sleeve t-shirts with interesting styling details. There will also be a line of mix and match pieces to give more options to the wearer. The footwear has that touch of Puma sportiness but with Narula’s distinct designer look.

One of the latest and most interesting collaborations is between haute couture men’s and women’s wear designers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra with adidas Style Essentials for their label S&N, which will work on sportswear. The first collection called Motochic wasunveiled at Lakme Fashion WeekSummer/Resort 2010when racy track pants sweat shirts, sporty dresses,t-shirts and causal wear for both sexes were a big hit on the runway. Adding to the clothes were bags and footwear to match the colours of the collection. The inspirations were the black and yellow stripe caution boards, the New York cars and people. Black and white checks appeared on the garments – an inspiration of the winning checkered flag maybe. Divided into three looks – Urban Traveller, Tee Time and City Bike, the S&N line had the stylish cuts of the designers with a touch of simplicity for the sporty buyer. Muscle-sleeve t-shirts with body hugging shoulders, long ladies tops, jumpsuits, checkered swimwear, short jackets, cropped tops, checked leggings, some corsets with knit, draped skirts, colour-blocked dresses, loose kimono tops, sombre swimsuits and balloon hot pants made an eye catching entry. For men there were quilted trousers, sleeveless jackets, capris in checks, stripes and dual tones and swimming trunks.

Inspired by active wear

Another very interesting mix of sports and fashion touches were presented by Neha Agarwal who brought in distinct inspiration of the track and sports gear onto her garments. Sheer, net sports jackets had large team numbers emblazoned on them. Calling her collection ‘Games People Play’, she showcased sloppy chiffon track pants, dresses had multiple pockets and the sports influence was seen with transparent and opaque mixes for sweat shirts and jogging pants.

Swimwear specials

With so much sea around India there are very few designers who create swimwear. But this time around at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2010, designers tried their hand at making fashion on the beach and in the water more glamorous. Fabrics used were Lycra of a very high quality and styling that was very unconventional but creative, which gave the swimwear the option of being worn out of the water for beach parties.

A duo that has moved into the fitness and sporty zone is Shrivan and Narresh with their beachwear and resort line at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2010. Presenting some excellent swimwear – maillots, monokinis, tankinis, bikinis body suits, sarongs and pareos the pair showed that beach wear could be great in the water or as outer wear on land. They had blocked bandeau bikinis, tube dresses, one-shoulder maillots, and sari drape sarongs that added glamour to a very well-crafted collection that would be a great seller for relaxed wear on the beach or off. Their colour story was muted with sun yellow, white, beige, blue and black with a hint of saffron for contrast. Anupamaa Dayal has always been a resortwear designer who attempted swimwear but stuck to the bikini with beach wraps. Her colours were vibrant and her fabrics were sheer for the covers while the swimwear was sexy and sassy with just the right amount of style and wearability. The tones ranged from festive pink to ecru, red, electric blue, green and a mélange of hues.

Malini Ramani worked around a holiday theme and with her base being Goa, she is very adept at creating the right kind of swimwear. There was a lot of colour as her collection moved through all the holiday resorts of the world as two-piece swim suits and matching covers were given the right touches of embellishments. Moving into the African continent for inspiration, Malini had digital zebra and snake prints on tunics and Bandhani motifs in black, white and beige and added drama for sexy mini kaftans, sarong dresses, swimsuits and monokinis.

The mix of designers and sportswear in India makes a great combination whichever way you look at it. Either Indian designers team up with sportswear brands or their collections have that sporty edge, which makes dressing up quite unconventional and interesting at times.

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