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Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011

Sports brands focus on running in style

Staff writer

As the audience settled into their seats, bright lights suddenly illuminated a small stage, dance music boomed from all corners, and a group of Avex dancers skipped and bounded onto a catwalk. But this was not a dance act for a high-fashion show. Instead, the carefully choreographed performance was designed to show off the latest in Japanese running wear.

News photo
Avex dancers model ASICS' new tunic and other garments at Tokyo Runners Collection 2011. MIO YAMADA PHOTO

Tokyo Runners Collection 2011, held on Jan. 22, celebrated this year's Tokyo Marathon with a presentation of comfy sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, leggings, trainers and dresses in high-tech fabrics and new designs. This year's trend focuses on being "stylish and fun," says Yoshihiko Kobayashi from ASICS sportswear, one of the many fashion brands that participated in the show.

Mini-skirts and short dresses for women were offered by Yonex, while Puma's intense acid colors made a good match for Northface's club-wear-like designs. New Balance adopted a popular Japanese item by introducing long, UV protection glove-like sleeves to accessorise the brand's outfits.

There was also an overall trend of layering looser items, ideal for the February cold and the notorious changeable weather of the Tokyo Marathon.

By Tokyo Runners Collection's standards, it appears that this year's marathon runners are spoiled for choice. But when it comes to running 42 km, style is not everything. Many brands have also used new fabrics and innovative designs to help maximize the sportperson's comfort and running ability.

ASICS' new tunics, which are designed to cover the upper thigh and hip area for a feminine look, also help keep the body dry, says Kobayashi, while the brand's leggings not only keep the legs warm, they also relieve pressure on knee caps and pelvic bones while running.

A complete high-tech running ensemble could cost you anything between ¥35,000 to ¥50,000. So it does not come cheap. But if the Avex dancers' energetic moves are anything to go by, runners can be assured that these outfits are definitely comfy and functional.

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