Up to speed

Shrenik Avlani | Updated on March 08, 2019 Published on March 08, 2019

Go ahead: Actor Mandira Bedi and wrestler Geeta Phogat are among those who have praised the designer for her dedication to running

The business of design is like running — with sprints and mid-distance and longer goals

Three years ago, when designer Namrata Joshipura was preparing for her show at the Amazon India Fashion Week in Delhi, the weather gods decided to wreak havoc on the gala. “At any fashion week, we get about an hour to 90 minutes to prep the ramp. Shortly after we started working on the set, which was outdoors, there was a storm that led to a short circuit and disrupted several elements of my set,” says Joshipura (48), founder and managing director of the high fashion label, Namrata Joshipura. While her team scrambled to put the set together, she remained calm and encouraged them to focus on getting the show back on track.

The storm led to a delay. “The tweets had started flowing. Several people from the press had started complaining about the inordinate delay on social media. I was aware of it all but that didn’t faze me. I got on with it and the show, which had Bollywood stars walking the ramp, was a success,” she says.

What was behind the mental strength and resolve that Joshipura exhibited that evening? Running, she replies. “If this had happened before my running days I’d have simply put my hands up and given up. But the runner Namrata never quits,” says the designer whose clients include actors Priyanka Chopra and Alia Bhatt.

She recalls a similarly tough situation from 2015, when she almost crawled to the finish line of a race. “I was unwell and under medication but I didn’t want to skip the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. I was doing well till cramps hit hard in the last leg of the race,” says the Delhi resident and alumna of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). A couple of her friends who were also participating saw her collapse about 100 metres from the finish line. They ran to her with water but she told them, “I don’t want a DNF [did not finish] against my name.”

Namrata Joshipura, 48, founder and MD of Namrata Joshipura, a high fashion label



So, they helped her to the finish line. “After that I received medical attention and also a podium in my age category (for being in the top 3). I have faced several tough situations in races and also at work after that, but giving up is no longer an option,” she says.

Designed to be sporty

Today, her dedication has been drawing awe and praise from fitness role models, including actor Mandira Bedi and wrestler Geeta Phogat, who often comment on her Instagram posts.

Joshipura, who has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Kenya and also loves trekking, trains 3-4 times a week early in the morning. She doesn’t skip training even when she is travelling. She supplements her road time with focused gym activities, such as strength training and plyometrics (rapidly and repeatedly stretching and contracting the muscles).

The designer has always been active and excelled in sports. As a teenager all the way up to university, she played hockey for Delhi. It was at a Sports Authority of India camp around three decades ago at the capital’s Nehru Stadium that Joshipura first saw PT Usha training. “That was very inspiring. I always enjoyed running but watching the track queen run made me fall in love with it.”

Spotlight: Namrata Joshipura with Alia Bhatt at the Amazon India Fashion Week 2017



Shortly after Joshipura joined NIFT Delhi in 1991, sports took a back seat. She later moved to New York in 2000, relaunched her label in 2001, saw it become a success, gave birth to her daughter Ananya and then returned to India in 2010. She resumed running in 2014 and ran her first organised race the same year within four months of her return.

Joshipura has run three full marathons and several half marathons and 10-km races across India and the world. She covered the coveted TCS New York City Marathon last year in under four hours, and last month won the half marathon at the IDBI Federal New Delhi Marathon in her age category despite what she calls a “slow training run”.

Endurance, discipline at work

Besides designing clothes and accessories, Joshipura has to attend to the business side of her brand, travel extensively for shows and sales apart from making time for her 14-year-old daughter.

Running, she says, gives her energy and peace of mind. “It has provided me with a place of solace. This is essential if you are in the creative field or you will burn out,” she says.

The leader’s fitness has had an immense impact on the team. “As a runner I value time and that has passed on to my team. Our work is demanding and quick-paced— it is a series of sprints, mid-distance and longer goals to speak in runner’s lingo,” says Joshipura. While iterating the value of endurance and discipline at work, she adds that being outdoors can also drive home important lessons. This explains why she encourages her colleagues to also participate in marathons.


Shrenik Avlani is a freelance journalist and author based in Kolkata

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Published on March 08, 2019
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