Running is an undeniably great form of exercise. There’s little requirements to partake; just some shoes, apparel – maybe a comfortable hat – and you’re off. And because running is for everybody, there’s a lot of brands out there catering to the sport.
When searching for new running gear, you don’t need to limit yourself to the typical big brands. There’s plenty of boutique running shops offering innovative technology, forward-thinking fabrics and stylish picks that fit right in whether logging miles or grabbing a post-run snack.
So, look beyond the sporting goods department and suit up with some of the following boutique brands that are crushing it as of late.
Miler is based in New York City and isn't shy about acknowledging it. Nevertheless, it sources its super-premium fabrics from European makers (though it sews its patterns back in the Big Apple) to make lightweight duds for running short distances with speed and ease.
Based in the U.K., Iffley Road specializes in a heritage aesthetic. Their clothing is high-performance, but the colors are muted to keep you looking more like a well-mannered lad than a pro track athlete. But don’t let the subtle silhouettes fool you. After all, Iffley Road is named in reference to the track where Roger Bannister ran the world’s first sub-four-minute mile.
This boutique running brand is based on the question, “What if in doing the ordinary, we find the extraordinary?” Friends Matt Whyatt and Charlie Webster set up Ordinary Athlete to answer just that, offering affordable technical gear and leisurewear with purpose. Their designs take pride in the inspiration running offers, no matter the distance or miles logged. Because the best accomplishment… is acceptance.
Dr. Ron Hill M.B.E. was the second man to break 2:10 in the marathon, competed in both the Tokyo and Munich Olympic marathons and was the first Brit to win the Boston Marathon in 1970. That same year, the speedy runner started his namesake company. The brand hits all the basics with short sizes ranging from a split short to a 7-inch short.
Face it, trail running is tough. You need gear that’s up to the task. And at Norda, the cold, wet, challenging terrain of Quebec’s Eastern Townships has provided the perfect testing grounds. The results? An absolute workhorse of a trail running shoe that offers the perfect combination of fit, cushion, grip, weight, breathability and material innovation you won’t find anywhere else.
There’s a reason we included Ten Thousand on our list of the best men’s workout clothes. The brand is in the business of designing workhorse shorts and apparel that’ll help you achieve your goals in the weight room and in the timed mile. We’ve gone on about how much we enjoy the brand’s gym shorts, but their run-specific lineup of apparel is just as ready to deliver the performance you need, and nothing more.
While Black Men Run is not an apparel brand, per say, the organization does do occasional branded gear releases, including shirts, hats, visors and face masks. The growing network welcomes runners of all abilities with a mission of promoting health and fitness among African American men through a culture of running.
Mash together performance apparel design with 80s hair metal aesthetics and you’ll get something close to Doxa. Its entire line bucks the neon-infused convention typified by the big brands and is highly technical, purely by nature of its origins in the ever-changing climate of Scandinavia.
How do you aim to overtake the likes of athletic powerhouses like Adidas and Nike? With premium athletic apparel aimed at the most demanding athletes. Castore founders Tom and Phil Beahon brothers are continually pushing products to be the lightest, most durable and most functional available. The aesthetics are simple, with little more than the brand’s signature winged logo as an accent to a range of muted color tones.
Performance can’t be faked. That’s why U.K.-based Ashmei addresses product design on the level of individual fibers. The result is a range of highly technical layers that perform with the environment, rather than against it. The fact that everything the brand offers also looks damn good is just an added bonus.
Another pick from across the pond, Soar is a running line designed by the U.K.’s Tim Soar. Soar uses advanced fabrics from Japan and Europe, taking a modernist approach to creating pieces that live up to expectations in the performance and style categories. Every product aims to give justice to the commitment and passion that runners showcase every time they lace up and head out.
Satisfy is definitely one of the more fashion-forward brands on this list, but their clothing has the performance chops to back up the bold designs. Expect extra-long short liners, camo prints, "moth-eaten" ventilation and premium fabrics, but not low prices. Don't miss the brand's thoughtful online magazine, either.
Born in Swiss alps and forever lost in the clouds, On offers a plethora of quality footwear, apparel and accessories with one goal: revolutionize the sensation of running. Their mix of off-the-wall designs are purposefully crafted to make running as effortless as possible. This is one instance where cloud coverage is a bonafide positive to your running environment.
Tracksmith's aesthetic is decidedly retro, but when paired with technical fabrics and smart features, the clothing itself is anything but dated. The company is based out of running-obsessed New England — and Tracksmith fits into that culture well without being kitschy.
Janji is another New England-based running brand, located in Boston. As part of a social initiative, Janji donates a portion of its sales to provide clean drinking water for people in less developed countries like Kenya, Peru, Nepal and Uganda. These places also inspire its designs, with bold colors and the occasional pattern.
Saysky is a small Copenhagen-based brand that was established in 2013. Their gear is about being training-focused, but still having a relaxed mindset. The urban-Scandinavian aesthetic works just as well in New York and L.A. as it does in Copenhagen. If you’re serious about your training but less serious about making a fashion statement, Saysky is worth a look.
The minds behind District Vision pride themselves on prioritizing function and performance first, but you wouldn’t be wrong to note the high level of eye appeal in each and every product brought forth by the New York–based team. DV started with a collection of eyewear that includes hypoallergenic rubber nose pads and D+ lens technology, but now makes fleeces, half tights and more for a well-rounded running kit.
Based in Montreal, Ciele has made a name for itself in tight-knit running circles for producing some of the best running caps available. They’re constructed from ultra-wicking COOLwick fabric and offer UPF +40 sun protection. They also feature reflective hits on the front and back to keep you safe when running at night. To go along with their stylish lids, Ciele has expanded their eye-catching lineup to include running apparel, sunglasses and more.
Add Atmpt to the growing list of New York-based running brands to keep on your radar. Based in Brooklyn, the small outfit makes apparel for, during and after your run. Don't let the casual cuts, occasional loud graphics or whimsical website fool you, either — this kit is made to move.