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Nayali Seeks Activewear Alternative



It’s a boom time for women’s activewear, but while more designers are getting into the activewear game, a major group of women have been ignored, said Shilpa Rajpara, designer of the Nayali brand.


The average activewear designer, she said, puts together a top by sketching something for a professional athlete, who generally has a smaller bust size. People aren’t designing for the buxom woman.

“They have kind of a monopoly on what an active woman looks like,” Rajpara said of mainstream designers.


But American women are becoming bustier, according to Rajpara’s research. In 1993, the average bust size for a U.S. woman was 34B. In 2013, the average size jumped to 34DD because Americans are getting heavier—in part due to higher-calorie foods in the typical U.S. diet—and because of the popularity of cosmetic surgery to increase bust sizes.

After 14 years of designing activewear, Rajpara thought that she could provide an alternative with her brand. In Swahili, Nayali means “feminine courage.” Rajpara did a soft launch of the label last July in Los Angeles, and she made her trade-show debut at Active Collective in Anaheim, Calif., in January.


Finding tops that fit buxom women is tough, said Mary Helen Shashy, the founder of Cheata, a compression-apparel label headquartered in Scranton, Penn.

“Being chesty and being overweight isn’t the same thing, although many of the activewear brands think that’s the case,” Shashy said. “The hard part is finding tops that don’t make us look overweight or dowdy.”

When working out, many buxom women wear two bras for support, which constrains mobility. To build a better top, Rajpara thought she would put two sports bras in one. With Nayali, one layer is made out of supportive power-mesh material, which comes with four-way stretch. The exterior is made of recycled nylon and Lycra, often made with a stylish design.

Nayali styles include the “Bondi Beach Aqua Bra.” It’s constructed with a sling, which creates the shape of an underwire bra but without the underwire.

The “Surry Hill” top is a convertible cross-back top, which features a higher neck and adjustable back straps. Another look is the “Carins Crop,” which is a zip-up top.


The tops are amphibious and can be worn in water. Rajpara also makes swimwear and plans to make more contemporary clothes. Her styles are made with technical fabrications.

“I get down to a granular level with fabric. I’m always asking, ‘What are the technologies that can make the collection better and better to give comfort, style, coverage and support?’ It’s better than busting out styles that are just cute,” she said.

Wholesale prices start at $30 for tops and $65 for pants. For more information, call (310) 363-7836 or email accounts@nayali.la.

Photos by Angela Marklew & Anais Chaine

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