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Althea Harper

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    Inspired by the colors and high-end fashion of India, local designer (and Project Runway competitor!) Althea Harper and her business partner are bringing you a new kind of activewear line. Keep reading for all the sparkling details!

    Mira Rae Lead Designer Althea Harper.
    Mira Rae Lead Designer Althea Harper (right)

    Mixing ancient inspiration with modern style, Mira Rae Activewear aims to help you look beautiful while remaining functional in your everyday life.

    This women’s, girls, and toddler activewear line was co-founded by Melissa Soin and her husband Vishal Soin, and local fashion guru Althea Harper serves as the line’s lead designer.

    Harper says that the line was inspired by India and Indian high fashion. “India is home to yoga and so much beautiful architecture and art,” says Harper. “We are also inspired by the modern woman who juggles so much in her life. We wanted to create clothing that would have this beauty and history behind it, but also be functional to wear from the gym while looking stylish to run to the store, run into work, go to the park with the children, etc.”

    For Soin, an American who married into an Indian family, it was a trip to India that helped her to quickly realize just how stylish Indian women are. “Indian women are always dressed to beautifully, whether they are attending a party, chasing children, or doing household errands,” says Soin. “I wondered if it was possible to combine that elegance with my inner desire to live my life in activewear and yoga pants.”

    Mira Rae features Indian inspiration mixed with modern American styles.
    Mira Rae features Indian inspiration mixed with modern American styles.

    It’s also about more than the meshing of styles, according to Soin.

    “As with many Americans, our children are growing up with many cultural influences and you will see this in our pieces,” she explains. “Mira Rae is named after our daughter who was the first in our family to be born into both cultures. Both sides of our family have really helped in many ways to get this company going. Family, faith, community, and world travel are reflected in all that we do.”

    To enhance the importance of family to the ladies behind Mira Rae, the line features “mommy and me” pieces that allow moms and daughters to match while they’re out and about.

    Mira Rae is a one-of-a-kind fashion line. It features the use of drape and Indian high-fashion inspiration in the garments. “We also use high-end fabrics for the best quality of athletic clothes, which enables us to achieve the drape and feel of a designer garment in an activewear piece,” says Harper.

    There’s also a wide variety of sizes available from Mira Rae, ranging from toddler 2T to Women’s large – including the “mommy and me” pieces that have been missing from athletic wear.

    13501848_683195168486357_4099493168521020686_nHarper says the most enjoyable thing about working as the lead designer for Mira Rae is creating something that is “so centered around things that are important for me.”

    “I love being active – yoga and weight training – and, most importantly, I love being a mother,” she says. “I am able to create something that is so functional yet also inspired by the beauty of Indian culture, motherhood, and being a woman.”

    The team at Mira Rae is prepping for the launch of the fall collection. “You will see more of the Indian colors and textures coming out,” says Harper. “We have some silhouettes that are new to athletic wear but are functional and work beautifully, as well as some unique quality fabrics that are both so luxe and comfortable.”

    Harper adds that with the soft launch of Mira Rae a few weeks ago, the activewear basics all featured an Indian touch. However, you can expect to see more prints coming out soon that use exciting concepts found in modern Indian designs. “Our prints will reflect the beauty and colors of India,” she says.

    They’re also working on a collaboration with a Cincinnati designer to add original art to the textile prints. “You will really start to see the Indian high-fashion come out,” says Harper.

    They’re also going to continue building the girl’s line and adding more to the toddler styles, as well as adding to the accessories offered by Mira Rae.

    You can learn more about Mira Rae at mirarae.com or by liking them on Facebook.

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      From Project Runway to playdates, see how one local fashion designer was inspired by her newborn to design a new baby clothing and accessories line. Keep reading for all the stylish details.

      Althea Harper and her daughter Lilias, who was her inspiration for a new clothing ling, Lilias & Love.
      Althea Harper and her daughter Lilias, who was her inspiration for a new clothing ling, Lilias & Love.

      Children are a source of love and inspiration for many, including fashion designer Althea Harper. “My daughter, Lilias, is my main source of inspiration,” she explains. “I’ve always enjoyed working with and creating unique prints, and when I began to buy items for my daughter, I felt like I couldn’t quite find what I really wanted, so I set out to make it.”

      She’s no stranger to fashion design, either. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program and being the runner up on Project Runway Season 6, she launched her own fashion line, Althea Harper.

      10646935_294893207387471_3667319493399946110_nAfter her daughter Lilias was born, she realized an issue that many women face – especially mothers of girls. It’s tough to find something that isn’t glittery, pink and covered in bows. It’s even more difficult to find something that’s unique, Harper says, that every other newborn or toddler on the block isn’t already wearing.

      That’s why Harper, a native of Dayton, founded Lilias & Love, a boutique baby-wear line that features leggings, headbands and hats in cute and edgy knits, applique and screen print t-shirts in addition to custom fur vests and dresses.

      All of the items in Harper’s line, which just launched after Thanksgiving 2014, are handmade in Dayton.560184_312215325655259_1079212101461008513_n

      Harper is already expanding her newest clothing line. She says they just introduced a few new prints in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Customers can also expect to see a handful of new prints with each season. “As the weather warms up, we’ll be attending more craft fairs and creating some unique warm-weather custom-order items,” Harper adds.

      All items in Harper’s Lilias & Love line can be purchased on Etsy by clicking here. “Customers can request custom orders through Etsy as well,” adds Harper.

      She says that you can find sneak peeks and adorable pictures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and, soon, at www.liliasandlove.com.

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