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Trendy sports outfits flood India
Sangeeta Singh
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May 02, 2005

If you start gymming again after a gap of, say, five years, there are chances you may not recognise your former gymming buddies, the bureaucrat or the corporate executive.

For these people have undergone a total makeover with not just losing weight but also with  cool jogging suits, caps and other accessories.

And if you were to walk away from the jogging track towards the swimming pool, you may bump into neighbours wearing chic swimwear that makes them look five years younger.

Yes, trendy, smart sports apparel has brought about lifestyle changes in people. Middle-aged and older people have started visiting the gym to flaunt their sportswear before they get hooked on to the culture of exercising.

Nike, Adidas and Reebok are just a few sports apparel brands that have changed people's looks with colours, designs and shapes. To join them are UK's Ambro and the American New Balance, Speedo and TYR brands.

These brands are becoming an integral part of one's  changing wardrobe, thanks to their availability and prices.

Take Ambro, for instance. With T-shirts starting at Rs 299,  and track bottoms at Rs 499, they are quite affordable.

And after your workout you can flaunt your Original Official England Team jersey --  for Rs 1,900.

Says Neera Shrivastava, a gymming regular, " Since most branded products are available  at between Rs 350 for a T-shirt and Rs 1,500 for track bottoms, one can pick and choose. These products were much more expensive earlier when they were  imported."

That's thanks to smaller companies in Punjab and Haryana that are acting as an outsourcing hub for most brands.

"We have the American brand New Balance in the Rs 399-1,499 range," says Bhupendra Nagpal, chief executive officer, RSH Distribution (India), which has the world's 10 brands of sports apparel.

The company has also introduced the US brand TYR, with swimwear for Rs 399 for boys, tank-tops and shorts for Rs 699 for girls and bikinis for women in the range of Rs 899-999.

Adidas has fully imported swimwear ranging from Rs 790-1,290. Women's single pieces start at Rs 1,500 and bikinis are around Rs 2,200.

The company claims it has technologically superior products which are chlorine resistant and have 20 per cent lycra. "We have set high standards in shape to enhance the user's performance," says Andreas Gellner, managing director, Adidas India marketing.

In sportswear, the Adidas range starts at Rs 350 and goes up to Rs 2,500. Its track bottoms range from Rs 800-1,400 and track tops between Rs 900-1,250.

Reebok also has an exciting new range of active gymwear, specialised tennis gear, classic wear and swimwear for women, and specialised running wear, swimwear and off-field soccer wear for men.

"The company has used revolutionary technology like play dry for moisture management, body mapping for professional athletes and compression technology for superior performance," says Himanshu Bhardwaj, senior GM, Reebok India.

While the women's collection ranges between Rs 599 and Rs 1,899, the men's collection starts at Rs 599 but goes up to Rs 3,499. In swimwear, women's products are priced at between Rs 1,399-2,499, and men's in the range of Rs 699-1,299.

However, if you aren't brand-conscious, you can go to Delhi's Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar or Mumbai's Hill Road for affordable, unbranded swim and sportswear.

"What is available  in these markets are cheap replicated products that use polyster or nylon passed off as lycra. The result is that their swimming costumes hardly last a season," says Nagpal.

But the fact of the matter is that swimwear for women can be bought for Rs 275 onwards with labels like Speedo etc. "They are mostly made in China, come in bulk and are extremely popular," says a store owner in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar.

However, you need to watch out for duplicate products, especially with brands like Speedo. K V S Unni, COO, Planet Sports says "Speedo is an internationally famous brand known for its excellent technology and styles.  It happens with well-recognised brands, many duplicates come out into the market. It's advisable for the consumers to buy only from recognised stores."

And if you are looking for stylish unbranded jogging sets, Delhi's Greater Kailash has a range starting at Rs 500 for a set and Rs 350 for just the bottom.

They are imported in bulk through Vietnam, Thailand and China and sold on pavements. "I always go for these jogging tops and bottoms because they come in all kinds of colours and designs and I can buy two sets for the price of one branded set," says Niharika Gupta, an executive in a call centre.

The urge to have more than two practical sets of swim and sports wear also arises because of the multiple uses they are put to these days: sports wear is being worn casually by college kids, to get the sporty look. Besides, swimwear is being worn for dancing with bicycle shorts.

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