Words and Interview by Genice Phillips

When it comes to the fitness lifestyle, women are often looking for stylish (and comfortable) activewear that makes them feel sexy, pre- and post-workout. Luckily, Brazilian-born designer Chandra Maharaj has something for everyone – from the yogis and fitness newbies to the super athletes – with her newest line of fitnesswear.

Before veering into fitness apparel, Chandra’s success began in swimwear, with the launch of her first collection in 2011. Growing up in Trinidad, her desire for fashion took root and a hungry pursuit of design led her to Miami, where she received two degrees in International Business and Fashion/Apparel Design.

Connecting island life and the awe-inspiring beauty of waters across the world, her swimwear is awash with sophisticated, prismatic colors that flatter women of all different shapes and sizes. In fact, you’ve probably seen her vibrant, colorful swimwear displayed on the beaches of Miami or in Kes the Band’s music video, Tuesday on the Rocks.

Fashion Designer Chandra Maharaj

Fashion Designer Chandra Maharaj

Fitnesswear was a natural transition and Chandra premiered her 2013 collection, fit with strong, solid pieces for the athletic woman. A few items were seen worn by motivational fitness trainer and Dominican Republic native, Massiel “Mankofit” Arias.

Her second, and latest line of workout gear is set to officially launch in the coming weeks, but don’t expect her to give up her ultimate passion of swimwear any time soon.

POTENT recently talked to Chandra about her upcoming fitness line, and her entrepreneurial spirit for design.


POTENT: What inspired your newest fitness line?

Chandra Maharaj: I have traveled a lot over the past year or so, living out of suitcases, speaking different languages, enjoying amazing cultures, and I felt very much like a modern day gypsy. That is the inspiration behind my newest collection, and the one I am currently working on with my Fitness trainer @Thefatfuneral (follow her J) that will be a continuation of that theme.

POTENT: Your first fitness collection was in 2013. What differences will customers see in your most recent collection?

CM: I always try to offer what my customers ask for, and that is the main difference they will see with this collection.  From the last collection, they asked for patterns, and patterns they got!

POTENT: What type of woman did you have in mind when creating the fitness line?

CM: I always design everything with all women in mind, but of course as this is a fitness collection, it is more geared to the active, yet still fashionable super woman, lol.

POTENT: What are some of your favorite pieces from the fitness collection?

CM: The MOJO legging is my personal favorite at this very moment, although I have to admit my favoritism tends to change depending on how I feel.  I also love all of my fitness tops!!! LOVE!!! I am however, wearing my Neotribe print as I do this interview, which I am just loving for today!!!

CMS Fitness Hoodie. Model: Chandra Cardelli (@TheFatFuneral) Photo By: Time Shift Studios

CMS Fitness Hoodie. Model: Chandra Cardelli (@TheFatFuneral) Photo By: Time Shift Studios

POTENT: What made you transition from swimwear to fitness clothing?

CM: I embarked on a personal journey of health, and as a result, daily workouts became part of my routine with fitness wear becoming somewhat of a uniform. What I wore to my workouts very much affected the way I felt when I worked out, and so I designed for myself, and my customer quickly jumped on board with their requests.

POTENT: How important is fitness and health in the Caribbean?

CM: I think it is extremely important, not just in the Caribbean but worldwide.  Our foods and environment is no longer what it was in the past, and as a result without the proper lifestyle we are made more susceptible to disease.  It is so important that you can see a lot of people making health and fitness a lifestyle, rather than just an intense pre carnival workout hahaha.

POTENT: International exposure for Caribbean fashion is increasing. Where do you hope to see Carib fashion in the next few years?

CM: I think that Caribbean fashion will soon be the next trend in the fashion industry, and hopefully it would be powerful enough to leave a permanent imprint and be as renowned as it should be internationally.

Mojo Leggings. Model: Chandra Cardelli (@TheFatFuneral) Photos By: Time Shift Studios

Mojo Leggings. Model: Chandra Cardelli (@TheFatFuneral) Photos By: Time Shift Studios

POTENT: What do you enjoy and love most about designing?

CM: The fact that it puts me in place where I experience my highest excitement, passion, love and joy. It allows me to create, with fashion being my chosen form of expression. This allows me to love my dream, and for that I will always be grateful.

Be sure to visit her site, www.chandramaharajswimwear.com, to purchase items from the fitness collection.