Lifestyle

Kenyan–inspired sportswear brand

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and former world athletics champion Lornah Kiplagat display an item from the athlete's sportswear brand "Lornah". PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • Former world athletics champion Ms Lornah Kiplagat, who has built a world class training academy in Iten, noticed the lack of an African sports brand in the market and quickly went on to launch her own brand called “Lornah’ earlier this year.
  • Apart from the shop at Galleria Mall in Nairobi, the apparel is also available in South Africa.
  • Their target is women who want to live a healthy lifestyle and that is why the first collection can be used for both sports and leisure.

Exercising is a good way of keeping fit. But the journey to being healthy starts with having the right attire for whatever sport or fitness regimen you want to engage in.

Personal trainers and fitness experts will tell you that what you wear to the gym or training will affect the way you exercise. More often than not women, find it hard to look for the perfect workout outfit that is comfortable even as you stretch your muscles.

African brand

Former world athletics champion Ms Lornah Kiplagat, who has built a world class training academy in Iten, noted the lack of an African sports brand in the market and quickly went on to launch her own brand called “Lornah’ earlier this year.

“I was not able to get sports apparel which was both functional and fashionable. I wanted to create a collection where function meets fashion and I think the result is really great,” she says.

The former long distance runner says she was inspired by Africa’s wildlife and tribes in designing the sportswear which is currently sold in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Scandinavia and Israel.

Apart from the shop at Galleria Mall in Nairobi, the apparel is also available in South Africa. Their target is women who want to live a healthy lifestyle and that is why the first collection can be used for both sports and leisure.

Men’s line

The collection includes long tights, sport tops, Capri shorts, short sleeved t-shirts and run dresses. There are plans to launch a small men’s line in the 2016 line.

The clothes range from Sh2,500 to Sh10,000.

“After I do the initial design, I handover  my ideas and photo’s to  a professional designer to make it ready  for production. As much as our biggest dream is to produce in Kenya we have not been able  to find a company that can produce the high quality products we have,” she says.

Even so, the self-financed sportswear shop is looking to be able set-up their own manufacturing plant in the country in the next few years.

“Our goal is to break even after three years and we hope to be profitable after five years. It is a long-term plan which means we still invest money in the business every day,” she explains.

The Galleria shop offers a one-stop shop where people can get information on training, injury prevention and get personal training.

“We hope to have private sessions on Pilates, core stability and spinning as well as free runs under the guidance of Olympic champions every Saturday,” she says. At the moment, Lornah and her team are in negotiations with stores in the USA, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Spain who will hopefully be able to distribute the brand.

Even though the cost of development, production and importation is high due to low volumes, the sportswear is available in Kenya at an affordable cost.

“The cost is pretty much the same as the competition but we are different in the sense that we have unique designs, fabrics and quality. It’s an African brand so people feel great wearing it,” she says.

Maasai

The brand is currently preparing to launch the 2016 line in early March.

“The 2016 line is totally different compared to what we have now. It is fully inspired on the Maasai and looks amazing. I do not think anything more African or Kenyan is possible,” she says.

Though Ms Kiplagat and her team just completed doing a photo shoot for the new line at a Maasai village in Amboseli, she declines to give us a sneak preview.

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