Appropriate sportswear also helps you feel more comfortable and confident even after a strenuous workout or playing an extreme sport
Neeraj Chopra scripted history by winning the gold in the men’s javelin throw at the Tokyo Olympics. Sports icons like him have been inspiring change, and today there is new-found interest in sports and everything related to it, including clothes, accessories, equipment and such like.
“When we plot the mall numbers every month by value and volume, we find that the sportswear category or performance wear is doing exceedingly well,” says Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO, Select CITYWALK, Delhi’s upscale shopping mall. He adds, that during the pandemic, he signed up with Decathlon who shared with him how important a market India is for them. Says Sharma: “Worldwide, especially in Europe, almost 65 per cent of the population uses some kind of sports equipment or the other, whereas in India this number is as low as 2-3 per cent. Decathlon wants to take this number of at least 8 per cent. There is a huge scope for sports equipment and gear in India.”
Within the mall, Decathlon conducts several events for groups and subsets of sports enthusiasts, to capture the minds and hearts of the fast-growing community of marathon runners, cyclists, yoga groups, and aerobics, zumba and kickboxing enthusiasts. Says Sharma: “Today, there is a correlation between just purely being a fitness person and translating that fitness into some sport. For example, I am doing strength workouts so that I can improve my badminton. I myself had just one pair of sports shoes earlier. But now within this category, I have one pair of running shoes and within running, I have fast running and marathon running shoes. From one to five shoe pairs is quite a progress.”
Tips on sports gear
Choosing the right sports apparel is not all about finding the best looking and most comfortable pair of shoes, or having the newest and trendiest shirts. It is about finding the right gear for the right sport, and making use of that gear to enjoy the sports at hand. Playing golf in basketball shoes will be a lot harder and much less fun than playing in golf shoes.
Fit is sacrosanct in many games. Sports outfits need to fit the player properly to ensure that he has a full range of motion when playing the game. Think about how awkward and uncomfortable you felt when you went to an event in a hand-me-down from your parents. The same is true for sporting events. Having loose fitting clothes for an athlete will hinder his performance
Choose the fabric that works best for you. Sports gear can be made of bamboo, nylon, cotton, polyester Polypropylene, Spandex, Tencel and even wool. Each type of fabric offers the sports player something different and you should just find a fabric for your body type and need.
Today, brands are curating their merchandise and people are much better informed about what to wear for which sport.
Games people play
Gone are the days of generic clothing when all you had was just one sportswear category. Today you have tennis shorts which are distinctly different from runner’ shorts. Likewise for shoes. Today you need stuff that goes with your game, be it football, cricket, basketball, cycling, marathon, volleyball, tennis or zumba, Pilates or yoga.
Leading sports gear brands include Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Decathlon, Asics, Puma, and Under Armour. And it’s not just niche labels but there are some homegrown fitness labels too making strides in workout gear such as Proyog, Deivee, Kica Active, Urbanic, Silvertraq.
The right sportswear can improve performance, which is why it is also called performance wear. It keeps one comfortable and confident. Take the case of modern gym attire which is designed to support the body. Compression shirts, leggings, and pants can help with your workout by stabilising and putting pressure on your muscles. Most runner clothes are tight fitting which prevents any chafing.
“Tennis clothes are different from basketball,” says Kamya, Store Executive, Adidas Originals Select CITYWALK. “They are designed with a free lift pattern that doesn’t allow your t-shirt to go up as there is a lot of hand lifting movement. The shorts often come without an outer zip, as you need to take out or keep the balls frequently. In basketball apparel, shorts are kept longer than knees while jerseys are slightly looser because you sweat and your movements occur sideways and frontways. You jump a lot and loose fit will keep you comfortable. In football Ts, you have a round neck with short sleeves and they are more like regular t-shirts. Running shorts are slightly longer at the back and shorter at the front.”
Talk about marathon, and the main attribute of running gear as against gym or active wear is that it is lightweight, softer, and fitted. Even the shoes have a soft base to facilitate maximum bounce, as against tennis shoes which come with a hard base. Says Amit Sikka, store manager, Nike, who has running, training, lifestyle gear at his South Delhi store: “Professional runners look for the lightest of shorts and smallest ones. I always notice that when a marathon runner enters my store, he doesn’t bother to check the colour. Instead, he checks the weight and fit. He wants the lightest and tightest with the best technology. In Nike we have dry fit technology.” As for the preferences of the Indian customer, Sikka says people prefer cotton mix to plain polyester. Indians have a penchant for loose-fitting lowers with pockets and zippers in them. They are often tech savvy and keep smartwatches and fitness bands.
Fashion and functionality
Zumba wear is headlined by bright colours, high-waisted pants and crop tops. “Any age and body type can rock this style,” says Melanie Canevaro, Creative Consultant Zumba Wear Zumba Fitness, LLC. “It’s all about confidence and attitude! The use of bright colours is part of Zumba Wear’s DNA, so that will always be trending for us.”
What is the right kind of dressing for Zumba? Canevaro says that there isn’t a wrong or right way to dress, it’s whatever you feel comfortable in. Some people like to dance in tight leggings, while some like baggy sweatpants. She says, “You want to be able to dance without having to adjust your clothing, so I would say a comfortable supportive sports bra is important and pants that don’t fall down since Zumba has a lot of hip shaking. Proper footwear must be there- a shoe with a sole that grips the floor too much could actually cause you to injure yourself and wouldn’t allow the ease of side-to-side movement and turns.”
For pilates, breathable and stretchable fit wear is ideal. Says Kavita Prakash, Founder & Principal Instructor, Pilates For Wellbeing (PFW), “Pilates can be practiced in comfortable workout clothes that allow movement without hindrance. Practitioners are required to wear slightly snug fitting clothes so that the instructor can see the contours and alignment of the body while teaching. Whereas in Yoga, people can wear just about anything from leggings to track pants to shorts to harem pants and pyjamas.”
Today most brands make eco-friendly yoga and active wear in spandex, poly dry or natural fibres like bamboo. Some key brands that specialise in activewear include Lulu Lemon, Sweaty Betty, Alo Yoga, Beyond Yoga and Nike, which can all be bought online.
Yoga dress needs to be flexible. Says Simi Grewal (Manager, Design), TCNS Clothing, which has a label Elleven for yoga and activewear: “The key properties of fabrics to keep in mind while selecting appropriate fabric for activewear garments are sweat wicking, stretch, comfort, softness and durability. Ideal fabrics for yoga wear are cotton blend knitwear with spandex. The garment should be form-fitting and should take the shape of the body. It should neither be too tight nor too loose. If it is too tight, it restricts the free-flowing movements of yoga; and if it is too loose, it hampers and hangs in the yoga positions. Sweat-wicking fabrics are a great selection that keep the body cool during the intensive workouts.
Bollywood has played a role in influencing the fashion industry, and has also kept sportswear in the public eye. Take the case of Namrata Purohit, who trains many celebs in Bollywood and is herself a style icon. She says, “Personally, I love wearing tights or fitted shorts and a sports bra. One can wear anything that makes them feel comfortable and gives them enough freedom of movement. Something breathable but I wear Reebok gear.”
Table: Indicative price list of sport gear from leading brands
|Price Range (Rs)
|Collection of colourful, insta-dry, super-soft leggings to complement your moves
|Reebok, Sweaty Betty, Nike
|Form-fitted clothes are the most preferable clothing. They are required to be free from metal or plastic adornments
|Comes with the features like breathable, stretchable, flexible
|Products offered are zipp free, made with fall safe padding
|The product mainly comes with clothing of micro polyester wings knit and knitted collar
|The clothing is mainly made with synthetic fibre, loose fitting in nature
|Some brands also offer padded shorts to help in reducing the road shock
|Lightweight, fitted, sweat and odour free
|Product made of micro polyester, superior colour fastness, cut & sew, V neck line, regular fit
|Pockets for ball storage
Source: TechSci Research