When it comes to fashion in Pakistan, sportswear doesn’t exactly rank very high on the list. People are more than happy to purchase their fitness wear from massive, tried and tested retailers like Nike and Adidas. Even our designers are too busy over the latest lawn print to really care about putting something new out there in the way of sportswear — even though so many of the country’s fashion-conscious tend to be, by default, equally health-conscious.
New York based Core Fusion fitness trainer and sports fashion expert Alessandra Bessler’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. She came to Islamabad two years ago, when her husband got posted here and has been teaching a very popular Core Conditioning class from the comfort of her own residence since then.
As of Thursday, July 21, she also launched her own sports and active wear line for women; Core Activewear. The sale-cum-cocktails event was held in Bessler’s living room and attracted a stream of customers including ladies from Bessler’s classes held six times a week.
The guests were positively delighted with the clothes — like kids in a candy store they scoured the merchandise, positively gushing with enthusiasm. Bessler couldn’t have been happier with the sales.
Said Bessler, while gesturing to a variety of leggings, boot-cuts, equestrian pants, lounge pants, tops and socks, said, “The line’s already doing really well. I even had a pre-sale, which also sold a lot of items.”
“I love the clothes and her class. It changed my life,” commented Jacqueline Raza. “Although some of her exercises are extremely gruesome, we do them anyway for her. She motivates people to push themselves,” she added.
Bessler’s clients are also motivated to buy on account of the line’s stellar affordability; prices range from Rs1,500-3,000 — a steal compared to the market value of commercial brands.
“The prices are great. Normally I’d have to spend $60 on a pair of durable exercise pants from brands like Nike,” said Anya, a guest, about her purchases.
A few words on the clothes themselves: Clean lines and cuts that flatter the body define the collection. The colours range from black to natural white and Bessler has used organic cotton and modal fabrics which “breathe with you and wick away moisture” (Bessler). The wearability factor is another strength. Usually when you buy active wear, it’s a one-time thing, solely for exercise and otherwise left to the closet. Bessler’s line, particularly the pants and leggings, is versatile enough to be worn out.
Ultimately what makes the Core line unique — in addition to being rendered in high-quality materials like 100 per cent organic cotton and modal fabrics that make for comfortable and breathable wear — is that their production is 100 per cent localised; right out of Faisalabad.
“I worked with Masood Textiles; everything was vertically integrated. They made the fabric, the cut and handled all the shipping. It was really impressive,” said Bessler. She also explained Masood Textiles employs over 19,000 people and has a special program for training women. Keeping the West’s unceasing preoccupation with Pakistan’s troubled politics in mind, the line — along with its production — actually portrays a softer side of the country and its potential when it comes to design and manufacture. Bessler’s upcoming trips to Switzerland and New York to showcase her collection will be a credit and boost to the country’s reputation — it’s not all about insurgency.
Correction: An earlier version of the story misspelt the name of Alessandra Bessler. The changes have been made.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.