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Oiselle athletes walk the runway at New York Fashion Week

-By Caela Fenton

The women’s sporting apparel brand, Oiselle, showcased their spring/summer collection at New York Fashion Week on Tuesday. The brand walked as part of Nolcha Fashion Week, which is a special showcase for independent designers, for the second year in a row. Oiselle’s presence at New York Fashion Week demonstrates a definite acceptance of workout gear as a canvas for personal style as much as any other clothing. This is exactly the direction that Sally Bergesen, the founder of Oiselle, is hoping the public mind will sway.

“It makes [athletes] feel more connected to our brand. It’s more authentic when they wear it — they aren’t just selling something, but they are wearing something they like,” Bergesen told Competitor.

Several elite Oiselle athletes took to the runway, including Lauren Fleshman, the U.S. 5000m champion in 2006 and 2010, and Kara Goucher, a U.S. Olympian attending both the 2008 and 2012 Games. Last year, the brand used a mix of athletes and models to walk the runway; this year they chose to go with athletes only.

“We’re trying to expand people’s definitions of what might count as an athlete or as a model,” Fleshman told the New York Times. “Fashion is about showing your best side, but sports is about winning and losing. I bring my A-game to everything I do, but I think by being in this show, I’m able to show both sides. You’re vulnerable out there but proud, too.”

The athletes walked barefoot or in sneakers, sending a different vibe than the typical towering heels you see on runways. Abdominal muscles, rather than ribs, were seen. Makeup and hair were kept simple.

Oiselle is sending an encouraging message about body image, athleticism and health that is sometimes sadly lacking in high fashion. One can only hope that more sports brands will be added to the Fashion Week line up or, perhaps even better, high fashion brands will consider showing some muscle themselves.