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Luxury Sportswear

A peaking trend blurs the line between style and sports.

When French luxury-goods house Louis Vuitton recently asked six luminaries from various fields to create bags featuring its famous monogram canvas, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld – ever the rule-breaker – took things a step further by designing a punching bag swathed in the pattern. This lavish piece of sporting equipment is accompanied by its own storage trunk and boxing gloves – all similarly decked out, of course.

About his designs, the style icon says blithely: “I know more and more women – and men too – who have started to box. I thought it was something that one should do, if possible, in a very expensive way.” Indeed, the convergence of high fashion and sports seems to have hit its peak after gaining momentum over several years, during which the definition of activewear has come a long way from “any old T-shirt and a pair of nylon shorts”.

More fashion designers have been gearing up to collaborate with traditional sports brands. Queen of prints Mary Katrantzou, for instance, is the latest name to join designers such as Jeremy Scott and Stella McCartney in partnering Adidas. Her collection includes wildly patterned neoprene dresses inspired by track shoes worn by winning athletes in the 1970s and 1980s. And, when edgy American fashion designer Alexander Wang worked with fast-fashion retailer H&M on a collaboration this year, he chose to create an entire collection of performance wear.

The world of sports has also made its presence felt in the fashion realm in more subtle ways. From the basketball-inspired styles by Givenchy to the hulking sweatshirts by Calvin Klein Collection, a good number of Fall/Winter 2014 runways were enlivened by the addition of get-up-and-go elements. In one of the surest signs that stylish sportswear is no longer a misnomer, designer-fashion e-commerce website Net-A-Porter launched sister site Net-A-Sporter in July.

The new website hawks designer activewear for sports ranging from gym workouts to golfing. Not that any strenuous activity is actually required to wear this growing trend, mind you. As Alexander Wang clarified in an interview: “I don’t do any sports! I only wear sports clothing.”