It all started when Mumbai-based Pravin Dhake took a sabbatical to travel around the world. With plans for trail running, hiking, and cycling, he stuffed his rucksack with appropriate sportswear. “Or so I thought,” says the 32-year old with a smirk. “By the end of the trip, most of my activewear felt irritating on the skin and retained a pungent odour even after multiple washes,” recalls Dhake. That was reason enough for him to start manufacturing t-shirts under the brand name Athlos early this year. While the single colour t-shirts made of bamboo fabric, retail online for ₹1,200-1,500, Dhake plans to extend the range to shorts, jackets and yoga pants.
Athlos is Dhake’s quest to create activewear which is not only comfortable on the skin when new but which also retains its durability despite repeated use. “Most brands use petroleum based synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon in their products. Synthetic fabrics make good business sense, but they are harsh on the skin and don't breathe well.” says Dhake. The company sources bamboo fabric from Tamil Nadu and production is carried out in Mumbai. Like most start-ups operating on a shoestring budget, Athlos’ Mumbai warehouse doubles up as its office.
Having started off with an initial investment of ₹400,000, Dhake will have to access additional funding given his intended plan to retail offline next year. Currently, his website processes 8-12 transactions per day on average and has sold more than 500 t-shirts so far. He is also looking at pulling in additional sales by selling to mountaineering and sports clubs. Even though the company is facing a challenge in finding vendors who are willing to supply in smaller quantities, Dhake continues to research different natural fabrics which can be used for the next line of products.