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Sukan Bertemu Fesyen

13 Aug

Oleh ROSMAWATI MION


RANGGI bersukan. Baju ala singlet bercerut di pinggang ringkas digayakan dengan seluar pendek paras lutut.

DAHULU, menonton apa juga jenis sukan, mata hanya tertumpu kepada permainan termasuk aksi-aksi menarik yang ditampilkan atlet sehingga beroleh kemenangan. Tiada tarikan lain yang mampu meraih perhatian apatah lagi pada pakaian para atlet yang rata-ratanya serupa.

Sebab itu apabila munculnya kelainan, ia menjadi bualan hangat. Tidak ketinggalan daripada segi gaya berpakaian mereka. Mungkin dahulu ramai memperkatakan gaya seorang pelari Amerika Syarikat, Florence Griffith Joyner atau lebih dikenali dengan Flo-Jo.

Beliau telah mengejutkan trek dunia apabila tampil dengan kuku panjang berwarna-warni serta pakaian sendat. Namun, penampilan wanita terpantas dunia itu telah mencipta senario baru dalam dunia sukan.

Biarpun beliau telah meninggal dunia pada tahun 1998 kala berusia 38 tahun, namun aura Flo-Jo yang bergaya cantik di trek terus mekar. Dan kini, atlet bukan sekadar menjadi sebutan kerana kepantasannya beraksi di lapangan masing-masing, tetapi turut diperkatakan ekoran gaya cantiknya kala turun ke gelanggang sukan mereka.

Malah, atlet dewasa ini bukan lagi hanya dilihat sebagai atlet semata-mata. Sebilangan mereka menjadi perhatian dunia tidak hanya disebabkan gemar bergaya kala beraksi, sebaliknya kecenderungan atlet tersebut menjadikan peragaan sebagai kerjaya sampingan yang tentunya menguntungkan.

Antara yang menjadi sebutan adalah Anna Kournikova. Bekas pemain tenis professional berusia 27 tahun ini cukup dikenali kerana fizikalnya yang cantik, apalagi mempunyai rambut perang paras pinggang yang menjadi idaman ramai wanita.

Anna yang dilahirkan di Moscow itu mula beraksi dalam kejohanan antarabangsa ketika berusia 14 tahun dengan bertanding di Piala Fed untuk Rusia dan menjadi pemain termuda mewakili negaranya untuk pertandingan tenis. Dirinya mula menjadi perhatian dunia kala beraksi dalam Kejohanan Tenis Terbuka Amerika Syarikat (AS) ketika usianya 15 tahun.

Disebabkan kecantikannya itu, Anna turut ‘disambar’ syarikat-syarikat gergasi dunia untuk menjadi model bagi barangan keluarannya, antaranya jam tangan Omega, Adidas, Yonex, Berlei, Lycos dan Multiway.

Kini, biar sudah bersara daripada dunia tenis, Anna masih bergiat aktif dalam bidang peragaan.

Mengikuti jejak langkah Anna untuk turut cenderung dalam bidang peragaan adalah rakan senegaranya yang juga ‘berlian’ di gelanggang tenis, Maria Sharapova.

Malah, Maria, 21, merupakan ikon kepada era baru kemunculan pemain generasi muda yang jelita dan tampil menawan di gelanggang tenis.

Umpamanya, ketika kejohanan tenis Wimbledon 2008, Maria mencuri tumpuan dengan mengenakan pakaian yang direka berasaskan tuxedo dipadankan seluar pendek.

Selain pakaian yang menarik perhatian, Maria turut memakai subang berlian Tiffany & Co. berharga AS$5,000 (RM16,300) dan ia juga merupakan kali kedua Maria menggayakan subang Tiffany selepas kejohanan Roland Garros.

Selain beraksi cergas di gelanggang, Maria juga terpilih untuk menjadi model bagi jam tangan TAG Heuer dan model iklan untuk Palmolive dan kamera digital Canon.

Andai diperhatikan, dunia tenis wanita sememangnya diwarnai dengan fesyen. Sebabnya, rata-rata pemain wanitanya bijak bergaya dan sentiasa mengejutkan dunia dengan gaya penampilan mereka, selain tidak kisah memakai aksesori biarpun ketika di gelanggang.

Pandang sahaja Serena Williams, 27, yang cukup meminati fesyen. Serena sering muncul di gelanggang dengan mengejutkan peminat tenis dengan fesyennya yang berbeza berbanding pemain lain.

Umpamanya, selain sering memilih pakaian beraneka warna yang terang, Serena pernah menyarung skirt denim dan kasut but kala beraksi di kejohanan tenis Terbuka AS 2004.

Keghairahannya pada bidang fesyen bukan sahaja dilihat pada penampilan dirinya yang sentiasa bergaya dalam apa juga perlawanan, tetapi sanggup mendalami dunia rekaan fesyen sehingga kini mempunyai label pakaiannya sendiri yang dinamakan Aneres iaitu ejaan Serena yang diterbalikkan.

Saling berkait

Kakaknya, Venus biarpun tidak terlalu menonjol gayanya seperti Serena juga mempunyai pakaian sukan dan aksesori dengan labelnya sendiri iaitu, Eleven.

Bagi dunia golf pula, ramai kini sedang memperkatakan tentang bintang muda, Michelle Wie atau nama samarannya, Big Wiesy. Disebabkan usianya yang masih muda dan berwajah cantik, Michelle tampil menawan di padang golf. Gayanya juga tidak membosankan, ada kalanya memakai anting-anting kala perlawanan.

Bergelar pemain profesional seminggu sebelum hari jadinya yang ke-16, gaya Michelle yang kini berusia 19 tahun itu bakal menjadi ikutan ramai terutama buat peminat golf.

Buat lelaki, ramai tidak boleh menyangkal betapa kuatnya tarikan David Beckham bukan sahaja pada dunia bola sepak tetapi juga dalam bidang fesyen.

Gaya bintang bola sepak yang dilahirkan pada 2 Mei 1975 itu sentiasa menjadi ikutan, daripada berpakaian sehinggalah kepada potongan rambutnya.

Selain menjadi model iklan buat Adidas dan Pepsi, David mengejutkan ramai peminatnya apabila menerima tawaran Emporio Armani untuk menjadi model pakaian dalam lelaki jenama itu.

Gaya David sentiasa mendapat perhatian lensa kamera jurugambar tidak kira kala menggelecek bola di padang mahupun menghadiri majlis-majlis sosial bersama isterinya, Victoria Beckham.

Apa pun, fesyen dan sukan yang dahulunya dilihat satu cabang berbeza dan sukar diadun bersama, kini segalanya berubah.

Kedua-dua bidang ini semakin saling berkait. Malah, sebilangan atlet terutamanya luar negara gemar bergaya biarpun ketika sedang beraksi cergas di lapangan masing-masing. Dan, ia menjadi ikutan peminatnya.

Perkembangan baik itu turut mendorong nama-nama besar dalam sukan seperti Adidas ‘menggoda’ pereka fesyen untuk ‘berkarya’ dalam mencipta rekaan menarik khusus untuk pakaian sukan agar atlet serta peminat sukan tidak terpaksa mengorbankan gaya mereka andai ingin bersukan.

Kolaborasi ini mencipta gelombang tarikan terhadap industri fesyen. Hasilnya, pakaian sukan kini tidak lagi dilihat sesuatu yang membosankan. Sebaliknya, ramai berbangga jika dapat menggayakan rekaan terkini umpama trend dunia fesyen agar diri tidak dikatakan ketinggalan.

Buat Adidas, biar rekaan cantik bergaya, tetapi ia masih menumpukan potongan yang mampu meluaskan lagi pergerakan tubuh sewaktu bersukan selain keselesaan pemakai dengan penggunaan fabrik yang berkualiti tinggi.

Begitu juga keluaran Adidas oleh Stella McCartney yang mengetengahkan koleksi khusus dalam memberikan wanita apa yang selama ini didambakan iaitu pakaian sukan yang bantu pergerakan dan pentingnya nampak cantik.

Sebabnya, wanita memerlukan kedua-duanya. Sukan dan gaya. Hakikatnya, kini wanita tidak perlu lagi mengorbankan kecintaannya dalam fesyen dan terpaksa memilih salah satu antara dua cabang berbeza ini.

Bukan itu sahaja, wanita juga tidak boleh lagi menjadikan gaya sebagai satu alasan untuk tidak aktif bersukan. Segalanya kini terpulang kepada wanita.

Utusan Malaysia

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Anna Kournikova Salahkan Paparazi

12 Jul

LONDON- Pemain tenis wanita terkenal, Anna Kournikova (gambar) mendakwa liputan media terhadap hubungannya dengan penyanyi Enrique Iglesias menjejaskan kehidupannya, lapor sebuah akhbar semalam.

“Perempuan akan memandang kepada dia (Iglesias) manakala lelaki akan merenung saya.

“Saya faham mereka (jurugambar paparazi) perlu melaksanakan tugas.

“Namun, ia dianggap mengacau jika anda berasa kebebasan anda dilanggar. Rakamkan sahaja gambar dan beredar,” katanya.

Kournikova turut menafikan dia menjalani pembedahan kosmetik.

“Saya belum berkahwin, belum hamil, tidak mengambil suntikan Botox dan tidak melakukan pembedahan pembesaran buah dada,” katanya.

Kournikova menyatakan dia juga mahu mengalami pengalaman menjadi tua.

“Kenapakah semua orang takut menjadi tua.

“Kamu akan menjadi lebih bijak dan matang. Kamu akan memahami diri anda dengan lebih baik,” katanya yang berumur 27 tahun.

– Agensi

Kosmo

Anna Enggan Kahwin

22 Apr

ENRIQUE Iglesias (kiri) dan Anna Kournikova.

WALAUPUN mendapat jolokan penyanyi lelaki seksi, Enrique Iglesias tetap tidak selalu bertuah.

Iglesias membuat pengakuan bahawa sudah bertahun-tahun dia cuba meyakinkan teman wanitanya, Anna Kournikova untuk mendirikan rumah tangga.

Beberapa hari lalu, Anna yang juga pemain tenis tersohor itu memberitahu dia tidak punya perasaan untuk berkahwin.

“Saya selalu cuba meyakinkan Anna untuk berkahwin, tapi dia tidak pernah beri perhatian dengan apa yang saya katakan,” kata sumber yang dipetik dari People.

Pasangan selebriti ini sudah menganyam cinta selama tiga tahun.

Dalam satu temuramah terbaru apabila ditanya tentang hubungannya dengan Iglesias, beritahu Anna ringkas: “Saya tidak mahu berkahwin.

“Semuanya baik-baik belaka,” tambah Anna.

Kosmo

Kournikova Kini Kurus

17 Apr


KOURNIKOVA memiliki tubuh yang gebu ketika menjadi pemain tenis terkenal (kiri) tetapi kini badannya semakin kurus (kanan).

LONDON – Bentuk tubuh bekas bintang tenis terkenal Rusia, Anna Kournikova berubah dengan drastik, lapor sebuah akhbar semalam.

Kournikova yang kini berumur 26 tahun dan bersara dari dunia tenis pada 2003 itu kini kurus dan bentuk tubuhnya kelihatan seperti seorang pelari.

Pendedahan bentuk tubuh barunya itu diketahui oleh media selepas dia menyertai larian triathlon amal di Miami pada Ahad lalu.

Ketika di kemuncak kerjaya sebagai pemain tenis, tubuh gebunya itu menarik perhatian ramai penonton tetapi para pemerhati sukan di Amerika Syarikat (AS) kini bimbang Kournikova bakal kehilangan bentuk badan menarik.

Selepas menamatkan larian dia berkata: ” Suasana amat sejuk. Saya tidak menjangkakan akan memperoleh kemenangan kerana seminggu atau dua minggu lalu, saya sakit.”

Dia juga menegaskan bahawa hubungannya dengan penyanyi terkenal Latin, Enrique Iglesias belum berakhir.

– Agensi

Kosmo

Sharapova: A Model Athlete

3 Sep


Sharapova: a model athlete

ROHIT BRIJNATH

A FLEETING visit last week to one planet in the online universe of Maria Sharapova (mariaworld.net), where her career is breathlessly recorded, is revealing in the symmetry of its headlines. First was stated news of the US Open draw, then the launch of her US Open dress, followed by a report that she is now world No.1, accompanied by a statement she is unveiling her new TAG Heuer watch.

The stories do not seem purposely arranged in this order (no publicist is that clever), but stand anyway as interesting reminder of who she is. A tennis player but a stylish one; a player to be watched for how she plays but also for the watch she plays with. This is the model athlete (no kidding, for in 2003 she signed with IMG Models).

The world was initially suspicious of Sharapova because it is instinctively cynical of beautiful athletes. Talent apparently should sell, but apparently never sex, irrespective of whether female athletes get a fair shake in the sporting business. Anna Kournikova was mocked for being more gifted at pouting than persevering, as if someone of her limited skills should be disallowed from making a fortune from her looks. If she was occasionally tawdry, then so were some critics.

Beautiful athletes, even with amputated competitive spirits, attract attention to their sports. Considering women’s sports are constantly, and unfortunately, scrapping for sponsorships, spectators and television time, every little bit helps. Numerous sports teams have posed for elegant yet provocative calendars simply to find funds for their struggling sports.

Sharapova, of course, is considered acceptable because she has straddled the divide adroitly; her gold-trimmed shoes are fine for she runs down winners in them; having her own perfume is tolerable for she is not scared of smelling of sweat on court; her appearance in GQ and Vogue and Vanity Fair is no issue because she is perfectly at home within the covers of Sports Illustrated.

Sharapova is seen as giving beauty in tennis a legitimacy; Kournikova won $3.5 million in career prize money, Sharapova already has topped $4 million. Kournikova never won a tournament, Sharapova has 10 including the 2004 Wimbledon title. Of course, Maria Sharapova is slightly behind on Google hits (one of the modern barometers of fame), with 743,000 hits to Anna Kournikova’s 749,000, but not for long you think.

Sharapova will play down her loveliness in press rooms, but play it up outside. Sponsors want to endorse fine players, but also attractive ones, and Tag Heuer, Canon, Motorola, Prince, Nike, Colgate-Palmolive have discovered the ultimate package in her. Her appeal is her talent, but also her blonde beauty, and at a recent tournament in Canada, a poster of her was taken down after it was considered too tasteless.

But beauty, and sponsors, and comparisons with Kournikova miss the point about Sharapova. Is she a great talent we are unsure, that verdict will arrive with time, but she owns an incandescent rage on court that is magnetic. She does not sharpen her nails before matches to look appealing, but to ensure they draw blood.

There are women players more gifted at present than Sharapova, who is owner of a forehand that will win no architecture awards and moves as awkwardly on court as the dignified Davenport might on a catwalk. But if not fast she is furious, carrying on court a bully’s sneer and a longshoreman’s penchant for fisticuffs.

Her father, Yuri, who possesses by some accounts a fascination with dropping out of helicopters to extreme ski, is himself a loud, fist-pumping, etiquette-busting presence courtside, and his daughter appears to mirror some of that desperation. There is a drive here to be famous, in tennis record books and beyond it.

For Maria, beauty is irrelevant on court, bruises are better. Arriving from Siberia much has been made of her iciness, but the idea fits. She will glare confrontationally, and then she will hiss, she will pump her skinny arms and then grunt like a piano-lifter at every point. Generally she is not averse to producing an ugly mayhem.

For her every match seems exquisitely personal, carrying the possibility of affront, and thus opponents must not so much beaten as devoured. As she once revealed, and not all of it was teenage bravado: “I know that every single tournament I go to, no matter who I play, no matter how friends I am with that person, I know I just want to rip them apart every time I step on court.”

So when Sesil Karatantcheva, only 16 now, intemperately suggested last year before her first confrontation with Sharapova that she would “kick her ass off”, it was akin to telling Roy Keane his tackles were girlish. Sharapova won that encounter in three sets; this year at Wimbledon she reduced Karatantcheva to tears with a 6-0, 6-1 hiding. It was scoreline with a point attached.

Sharapova’s slaughter of Serena Williams at Wimbledon last year, in only her seventh Grand Slam, was a powerful advertisement of precocity, a masterful statement in big-match temperament. Not a stroke she played had a scent of awe attached to it, either of her opponent or the occasion. It was not a confirmation of greatness, but a sign.

The Russian’s ambition can be seen, but also heard, she can be giggly in the interview room yet follow it with a cold savagery. When asked at the Australian Open this year after defeat by Serena, despite owning match points, if the American had showed her anything on court, she replied archly “What did she show me? Nothing.” Of course, the intimidation once brought by the Williams sisters, as is somewhat the case with Tiger Woods, has eroded, but Sharapova is unhesitant to articulate it.

The No.1 ranking, which bounces rapidly between the women’s players and is a product of a flawed computer, is a useful tag but hardly affirmation that Sharapova is the world’s best player. It is hard to wear that label in a year without a Grand Slam title or even a Grand Slam final appearance, but it is a year not over with yet.

But at 18, no one will contest the point at length because it seems somewhat inevitable it is a number she is eventually fated to wear comfortably. Her game promises to find itself, her mind it seems is already there. Asked once if any of her coaches had told her to work on the mental side of her game, her reply was perfunctory. “Never”, she said sternly.

So next time you see Sharapova on a billboard, or a mural down the side of a building, all coquettish and graceful, stylish and sweetly smiling like some angelic hawker, don’t fall for it, don’t be fooled, and just remember this. On court, she’s all business, too.


Hindu On Net

Kirilenko — A Compact Version Of Sharapova

12 Feb


Kirilenko — a compact version of Sharapova

By Vijay Parthasarathy


RUSSIAN LEGACY: Maria Kirilenko not only shares her first name with Sharapova but there is also a lot in common in their style of play. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

HYDERABAD,

FEB. 11

. This is possibly what J.R.R. Tolkien might have written about were he an Indian, and a tennis fan — and, well, a lot more imaginative. Granted, that’s one conjunction too many; but hobbits seem more real in comparison to what’s happening at the moment.

Women’s tennis in India is at the moment brazenly living out its wildest fantasy. Almost impossibly — and in the process unashamedly countering any attempt to downplay the hype surrounding her — Sania Mirza has become the first Indian to enter the final of a WTA tournament anywhere in the world.

That she managed the feat in her hometown does her no discredit. Her opponent in Friday’s semifinal was no pushover. Maria Kirilenko is, admittedly, a lesser-known member of that superhuman tribe of athletes mainly found to inhabit tennis courts in Russia (and the occasional one in Florida); but at number 82 she is ranked 50 places above the Indian, and was a finalist in Hyderabad last year.

Ordinarily, these details would have conspired against any local favourite and the pressure would have caused the player in question to disintegrate like apple crumble. Yet, Sania won in straight sets.

This was Sania’s first win against a Russian ranked in the top 100, and while she has a long way to go before making the top rungs you suspect over the next few months she’s going to bump into a few more players matching that description.

Overwhelming presence

You could compare the overwhelming Russian presence in women’s tennis to something like a sleek TGV rake with tiny gaps between bogies. Elena Dementieva made two Grand Slam finals as three of the last four were won by Russians — that’s if you don’t get Australian Open men’s champion Marat Safin into the picture. Eight of them are in the top 20 and seven more rank inside the top 100.

At the head of this train is Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, who is at once tennis engine and teenage diva; she is followed by her fellow Grand Slam winners, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina, and as you move down the only name missing is ironically Anna Kournikova, who it could be argued started the Russian wave in the first place. Kirilenko stands right at the end of the line, the 15th and last bogie as it were.

On-court, the lowest-ranked Russian in the top 100 looks like a compact version of Sharapova, the highest-ranked one. There’s not much of a facial resemblance; but the 18-year-old is lanky and, like the world number three, wears her hair in a pony-tail that falls out of the back of her cap. Kirilenko has also picked up Sharapova’s more infectious mannerisms: she touches the bridge of her nose just before serving, and the serve action itself is as graceful; she fiddles with the racquet with her back towards her opponent, between points. To complete the mapping Kirilenko even grunts — though less often and more self-consciously.

She’s got a decent two-handed backhand, and a dropshot that is so wicked it would put Cinderella’s stepmother to shame. What she lacks are Sharapova’s height and power. Kirilenko’s groundstrokes aren’t weak by any stretch; but she rarely finds the pass and needs to back her returns with better angles. The 5 feet 9 inches tall Kirilenko has a relatively weak overhead, which limits her efficiency at the net: her opponent merely needs to lift the ball and deposit it a foot ahead of the baseline.

Good friends

The 17 year-old, Florida-based Sharapova is clearly a huge inspiration for some of these Russians. Kirilenko is, incidentally, good friends with Sharapova, and they won the doubles title together at Birmingham last season.

Sania cannot match most of the Russian crowd, at least not yet; and next to their mean-machine she must feel like she is riding a dumpy goods train. But just now the Indian teenager is playing with the confidence of a con-artiste, and clearly she’s tricked her own mind into believing she’s already a top 50 player. The match against Serena has helped her mature as a player and, as a person, made her more impudent. There is no question of reputations preceding anyone and, to borrow that glib cricketing clich
, she now plays the ball purely on its merit.

To be honest, cat-calls here have interfered with her opponents’ concentration as they served; but Sania is dismissive on that account. “Although the crowd is on my side, the noise distracts me too; I don’t think I’m hard of hearing,” Sania said at her post-match press conference.

Still, it will be interesting to see if the Indian can maintain her consistency abroad. Of course, that’s not as exciting as finding out Tolkien’s ghost is, in fact, dying to apply for an Indian passport.


Hindu On Net

Sporting Style

22 Mar


Sporting style

From functional shops to swanky boutiques, sports stores have come a long way, says SHALINI UMACHANDRAN

Pic. by R.Ragu

SPORTS STORES have morphed from dingy godown-like repositories of assorted shoes and swimming goggles into air-conditioned, glass-fronted boutiques that sell everything from aesthetically curved (and of course branded) shoehorns to the latest tennis racquets on the circuit. The walls that used to be lined with cricket bats and swimming floats now have posters of Carlos Moya and Anna Kournikova stylishly diving to tackle particularly easy shots. While it’s easy to talk about the evolution of the sports store and say that the godown guys have been caught and bowled by the ritzy retailers, the truth is the sports store marathon has just begun.

“The Chennai market is maturing. There’s a great deal of opportunity here,” says Altaf M. Vahanvaty, managing director, Sportiff (India), which owns and manages Sports-locker. Sports-locker is among the newest and arguably, the swankiest sports stores in the city and the orange lettering on its glass is still welcoming Carlos Moya, who inaugurated the store in January.

“It is an experimental store, but we wanted to provide customers big brands in the right ambience. I’ve been visiting Chennai for the past 20 years to meet dealers. The existing dealer network is not sufficient to meet the kind of market that Chennai is growing into,” he says. Which is why Sportiff, until recently manufacturers and distributors of sports apparel, decided to open its own sports store, focussing on tennis, cricket and fitness apparel and equipment.

Chandra Kumar Chopda, managing partner of The Pavilion on Wallajah Road, says the marketing blitzkrieg has boosted business. “Over the last 15 years, the equipment has not changed much. What has changed is the kind of media attention sports gets,” he says. “That means more people want their children to take to sports. There’s also the fitness factor — corporates buy a lot of equipment to keep their employees in shape.”

However, Dhiraj S. Walia of Pioneer Sports, which has been around since 1932, says there has been a drop in interest in sports over the last decade — bad news for the growth of sports goods trading houses.

But most of the sports-store owners are upbeat about their chances in this game. Bernard, who runs Royal Sporting House, part of the Singapore-based sports products retail chain, says their two-month-old 200 sq. ft. store in Spencer Plaza is just an experiment to assess the market. They plan to expand into a 3,000 sq. ft. store within the next year to cash in on Chennai-ites’ growing interest in tennis and golf. “At present, there’s a high turnover in casual wear and work-out clothes, but there is a need for a specialised format store that focusses on particular sports,” he says.

That’s what Chopda of The Pavilion also says. His store’s focus is cricket — “Cricket gear comprises 70 per cent of the sales. I also stock all kinds of tennis and swimming gear — these are popular sports — but each store has its own strength. Mine is cricket.” The Pavilion opened 24 years ago as a 100 sq. ft. store called Bombay Sports Emporium. In 1988, it moved to its present 1,000 sq. ft. premises on Wallajah Road. “Five years ago we re-modelled the store and got it air-conditioned. We thought people might be put off by the new upmarket look, but our sales improved after the redecoration,” he says. “We keep changing the look of our store. Ambience is important to the customer.”

Altaf Vahanvaty of Sports-locker agrees that the right pitch conditions are needed to make a successful sale. “We wanted to give customers an international experience. Though some are hesitant to come as we are in a rather expensive Khader Nawaz Khan Road area, many customers have told us they’re pleasantly surprised with our very reasonable prices — and of course, that they love our store’s look.”

Shiny Babolat racquets line one wall of the 3,000 sq ft store and cricket helmets gleam from another corner, while T-shirts in all sizes dangle from polished hangers. The store got inputs about layout and product placement from Aasics and Babolat to get their strategy right. Tennis is their focus, with cricket coming a close second and fitness, third.

Chennai’s sporty types though are into cricket, tennis and general fitness — which means working out in a gym or going to aerobics class, say the store people. Dhiraj Walia of Pioneer Sports says shuttle is also a favourite, though more as a pastime than as a serious sport. Sanjana, who runs the Nike franchisee in Spencer Plaza – Phase III, says she sees a higher turnover in basketball-related goods. Most of her buyers are young people looking to make branded fashion statements. “A majority of my customers are doing lifestyle-oriented buying but Chennai is slowly working up to fitness and sport,” she explains.

The other storeowners though are pretty clear about whom they are selling to. “We are a sports store not an offshoot of a branded store,” says Altaf of Sports-locker. “There is no lifestyle orientation, in terms of products.” Dhiraj Walia of Pioneer Sports describes his store as “a super sports department store, where you can get any product at any price point.” There is a trace of disdain for the stores that are pushing Nikes and Reeboks as must-haves in the sportily stylish wardrobe. As Chopda of the Pavilion puts it, “Brand consciousness does not affect real sports lovers.”


Hindu On Net