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Reebok Yoga Pilates

Reebok Yoga Pilates

Fashion Goes East for the Olympics

Author: alexda

In the run-up to the Olympics, which begin next Friday, press and broadcast outlets have saturated American television with all things Beijing. So it comes as no surprise that there has been a trickle-down effect, inspiring companies not directly associated with the games to design collections around Asian themes.

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PUMA, medal bag (small) $49; medal bag (large) $79 by George Omerod, first prize, Central Saint Martins student competition. At the Puma Store, union Square and SoHo locations.


Sportswear brands are cashing in on this summer’s Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with Chinese-inspired clothing and accessories collections. The most highly politicized Olympics in recent history notwithstanding, the event has garnered so much attention that brands such as Fila and New Balance are racing to tap into the Eastern trend.

The Olympics are a hook for many companies, according to a marketing expert, Renee Peet, of the company Brand Image, which helps companies market and sell their products. “We started seeing it about a year and a half or two years ago, the requests of how to co-brand around the Olympics,” she explained.

New Balance has created two lines of lifestyle shoes: a China Mask collection that plays upon the moods and characters of traditional Chinese Opera, and the Elements 576 Collection, based on Chinese Taoist philosophy.

“China is more top-of-mind for people than it would be, with the Olympics going on in Beijing,” the product manager for New Balance, Alana Choquette, said.

The company’s limited-edition Elements collection, which recently hit stores, was designed with wood, water, and earth in mind, three of the elements believed to represent types of energy in constant flux with one another, according to Taoism. Details such as the peel leather on the black-and-green “wood” sneakers are meant to convey the texture of bark or sediment. Meanwhile, the blue-and-white “water” shoes have a transparent rubber outsole that gives the optical illusion of floating bubbles.

Conversely, New Balance’s China Mask collection, to be launched globally in August, represents moods through color: black for fury, red for anger, and so on. The suede shoes with mesh accents feature embossed graphics, and re-creations of Chinese masks are visible on New Balance’s signature N along either of the shoes’ sides.

“This marks the first collection that was designed out of China, which is exciting given the link with the Beijing Olympics,” Ms. Choquette said of the Mask collection, which is the product of a sneaker design competition held across Asia.

“We are seeing a lot of trends of Asian influence. … The Olympics is going to give that a boost and make people even more aware of it,” Ms. Peet said.

The current influx of Asian-themed products includes Fila’s relaunch of its Wellness collection, in this incarnation with Eastern teachings as the focal point.

“We were talking about Eastern philosophy and there has been a real turn toward yoga and Pilates, and it’s not a coincidence that this is the year of the Olympics in China,” the director of design and apparel for Fila, Freya Tamayo, said.

The Wellness collection, which hit stores earlier this month, has a very “zen-like feeling” and includes eco-friendly fabrics such as soy cotton and bamboo Lycra (which happen to be antimicrobial) and soft silhouettes for sports such as yoga and tai chi. The pastel long-sleeve hooded tunics are made without seams and zippers for added comfort, and the form-fitting stretch pants incorporate a dropped waist and moisture-wicking technology. Puma chose an alternative route with the bag collection that will have its debut in August. The company sponsored a competition during London Fashion Week this year for students enrolled at London’s Central Saint Martins School. Students were charged with designing a bag, inspired by the Olympics, to hold Puma’s new sprint shoe — the USAN. The three winners selected included the Gold Medallion bag by George Omerod, who was inspired by the idea of an Olympic medal, or “the symbol of a winner,” as he put it. The gold-and-gray circular shoulder bag actually unzips around the side to create a larger bag. The bags ($49-$79) will be sold in Puma Concept stores.

Reebok also looked to the East with its Pump Omni Hexride sneaker, which it will launch with Chinese basketball player Yao Ming, of the Houston Rockets, on opening day of the games. A gold-and-red dragon encircles the entire surface of the shoe, drawing from traditional Chinese symbols and colors. A total of 2,008 pairs of the leather sneakers ($150) will be available for purchase in China next week; a limited number will come soon to retailers worldwide.

Still, those concerned that Olympics purchases will go out with the torchlight need not worry — the Asian trend won’t end with the games, according to Ms. Peet. “You’ll see more affordable brands are going to do their copying of brands like Adidas, and it will take three to six months to do it. The cycles are really fast,” she said.

Ms. Tamayo of Fila also said that the trend is here to stay, but for different reasons: “The trend toward Eastern philosophy is a global one. It’s not just a fashion trend,” she said. “It’s happening on several different levels. It’s much more far-reaching than designing clothes.”


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Reebok Yoga Pilates

Reebok Yoga Pilates

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