Fashion at PLAY
Fashion-conscious sportspersons are setting new trends in dress sense
WHEN ARANTXA Sanchez Vicario had a Rollad Garros-emblem embossed on her undergarment some time ago, she drew flak. What she also drew was attention from the world of fashion for starting a trend by integrating sports and attitude.
Now that the hullabaloo is over, the fashion world is busy yet again exchanging notes with sports stars about who sported what in the recently concluded Olympic games.
Dash of glamour
Gone are the days when sportspersons were decked up in uniforms that had no more aim than to project their country's insignia or flag. Athletes are getting mod by the day, and not averse to making a fashion statement while at play, they are stepping on to the trend mill to sport stuff that add glamour to their game.
If dresses in the 28th Olympiad are any indication to go by, sports-fashion may soon become a highly specialised field with noted designers working in close conjunction with leading sports-brands to create aesthetically appealing apparels that not only speak of high fashion but also yield a better performance.
Talking about the Athens Olympics, a whole new range of sportswear could be spotted by any discerning viewer.
The well-designed and colourful uniforms that most of the teams wore during the opening ceremony added to the air of gaiety and attractiveness to the mega event. Fashion, obviously, did not stop at the ceremonial level. In the arena too, it was obvious that there was a carefully planned attempt to make dresses more colourful, attractive and utilitarian. In the past, gymnasts would wear only red, blue or white dresses with minimal detailing by way of frills or fancy designs. The trend mill showed a gradual shift towards visually appealing and pleasing colour combinations. In track and field competitions, some of the world's top women athletes took up a trend that was pioneered by Flo Jo, whose sprinting records created at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 still stand unbeaten.
Florence Griffith Joyner was known to design her own clothes, which included items such as one legged leotards, hooded tops and multi-coloured spikes that made her stand out from the rest of the competitors.
Designed to perform
One is reminded of her followers in Cathy Freeman of Australia and Merlene Ottey of Jamaica who have made it a point to look good, and also perform well. If `designed to perform' was their catch-line, Nike - that designed the uniform for the U.S. track and field contingent lived up to their mark.
By `wind-tunnel testing', the manufacturers developed clothing that could provide the wearer an advantage of up to 10 per cent over his normal ability. And in events such as sprints or swimming - that could make a huge difference going by the fact that even hundredth-of-a-second is important to decide between winning and losing. Even a minute crease or bump in the clothing could cause friction with the water and slow down the speed of the swimmer.
Great care and precision factors matter even more significantly in the design of shoes. The latest innovation in running shoes is called `Monsterfly', - a line of shoes, designed particularly for 100-metre sprinters. Its design is such that it places the wearer's foot in the right position for a powerful thrust especially in the last 30-metres of the race when the runner rapidly loses speed.
Before the Games began, the manufacturers held a fashion show where they displayed their creations.
Among those who strutted the stuff were the world's leading sportsmen and women, such as pole vaulter Stacy Dragila, long jumper Grace Upshaw, hurdler Allen Johnson and sprinters Justin Gatlin and Inger Miller among others. What better indication than this to show there is fashion at work in play!
ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA
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