Meet the women entrepreneurs acing the sportswear game with their startups
The sportswear and activewear market is poised to hit $350 billion by 2020, according to CNBC. With the rise in the number of people preferring comfort over couture, there has been a rise in sportswear startups.
Here is a look at homegrown sportswear brands that are run by women entrepreneurs who are producing comfort couture.
Aarti Grover launched Flirtatious.in with the aim of producing comfortable and multi-functional clothing. Her Delhi-based label was started as a swimwear brand for “young, professional, and independent women of today”. The Istituto Marangoni, Milan graduate has now extended her label to include activewear that is prominent for its cutting-edge silhouettes, plush fabrics, and it’s urban and chic vibe. Aarti acknowledges that the label is an extension of her personal style comprising vivid prints, striped leggings, mesh bombers and a happy colour palette. She believes that Flirtalious.in is a one-stop shop for comfort wear, especially for urban millennials.
Aneesha Labroo’s activewear brand Kica is a well-established name in the industry. Armed with a fashion marketing degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Aneesha launched Kica in 2016 from Delhi to produce fashionable yet functional sportswear. Aneesha was inspired by her time in New York where people were obsessed with fitness. On returning to India, she noticed the market lacked high-quality and stylish activewear that was affordable, and Kica was born to fill this void.
Nirali Mehta and Jeenie Madan
Nirali Mehta and Jeenie Madan were childhood friends who came together in 2014 to launch Stretchery - an organic and sustainable activewear brand. The founder duo decided to take a design course before they ventured into the sportswear business. Nirali has studied design and worked for one of India’s top jewellery brands, while Jeenie studied commerce and started exporting Indian dance costumes to dance schools overseas. Now operating from two different continents (Jeenie lives in San Francisco and Nirali lives in Delhi), the duo has created an indigenous brand with a global appeal. With Stretcherry, they produce active wear with organic and indigenous cotton and eco-friendly dyes.
Aarti Virwani is the creative director of Tuna London, which she co-owns with her husband Ajit Virwani. Coming from a family that works in the fashion apparel industry, she was naturally inclined towards fashion and studied fashion from SNDT University.
“It’s not just about working out to look good but also about looking good while working out,” says Aarti, whose sportswear label has been picked up by the country's leading e-retailers. The sportswear line is a culmination of her passion for fashion and her husband’s obsession for fitness. She credits the swift success of the brand to its accessible price point and quality of materials. Unlike most sportswear brands, Tuna London uses high cotton content to tackle the sweltering heat in most parts of the country.
Suniksha Goenka wanted to create a brand that struck the right balance between active and personal lives. So, she created Myriad that caters to women who want to feel comfortable and fashionable all day. With Myriad (meaning countless or innumerable variations in Greek), Suniksha produces activewear for all your fitness goals. She graduated from London College of Fashion and was inspired by the dynamics of fashion and street style in London. Started in 2017, the Mumbai-based label is renowned for its transitional garments that are functional for all purposes but also all seasons. Goenka's passion for exploring fabric textures, style, innovation, and creating clothes for all body types and most importantly comfort through all performance activities translates through Myriad activewear.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)