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.
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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.
Whether training for the next big race or taking the lead in it, this singlet is primed to perform. The bonded Noso seams help reduce chafing and lie flat on the body for a lightweight, comfortable feel. The front logo is reflective as well, so you’ll stay visible to passers by. But let’s face it, they’ll already be looking.
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.
Cambrian Drirelease T-Shirt
The perfect blend of comfort and performance. This slim cut tee features superior wicking technology, drying four times faster than traditional cotton. A convenient in-seam valuables pocket also adds to this pick, capable of holding your keys or a credit card when on-the-go.
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.
“Race Crew” Performance Tee
Stay dry, comfortable and in good spirits with this technical t-shirt. Boasting enhanced wicking fabric and a close-to-the-body fit, the “Race Crew” performance tee stands ready to add a smile or two to your next training session.
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.
Light and loose, Ronhill’s Core Split Shorts are another example of the brand’s tried and tested quality. Featuring traditional split cut sides for maximum comfort and airflow, you’ll be ready to meet any challenge you set. Plus, a back zip pocket for storage and reflective graphics for visibility make these shorts a must-own.
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.
Take on every trek in the world’s first seamless, lightest trail runner. The 001 – M 22 features a breakthrough upper construction, built from bio-based Dyneema and recycled Cordura nylon. Vibram soles round out this tough-as-nails silhouette for maximum traction through the mud, hills and bends.
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.
This performance top from Ten Thousand was tested by elite runners and combines ultra-lightweight knit performance fabric with a streamlined design for a tank you’ll barely notice is there. Permanent anti-odor technology is another perk, allowing you to focus on tasting victory – not smelling it.
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.
A wicking internal sweatband, comfortable soft brush elastic back and relaxed fit front panel mold together in this running visor dedicated to the BMR organization. Show your support and grow the network in this headwear designed to move forward.
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.
When you’re really on the move, you’re bound to heat up. Well, this Simon Singlet features a recycled polyester construction for quick-drying comfort. Wide armholes can help add breathability and range of motion as well.
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.
Green Pro Tek Printed Tee
The relaxed fit of the Green Pro Tek Tee makes it a perfect choice for pre-, intra- and post-running scenarios. The lightweight, high stretch fabric allows you to move through your miles with unhindered performance.
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.
Subtle enough for everyday wear, but equipped and ready to perform, this top tier tee is cut from Merino and Carbon fabric for a lightweight, fast-wicking, odor-reducing build. And the soft texture of the natural wool makes us wonder if we’ll ever take it off.
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.
Breathable. Comfortable. A tailored fit. What’s not to like about this performance-laden long sleeve from Soar? Another perk to the Long Sleeve Tech T 2.0 is the antibacterial coating that helps reduce odor to leave you flying high rather than stinking to the high heavens.
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.
Space‑O 2.5-inch Distance Shorts
The Perforated Mesh of the Space-Os serves two great purposes. The laser microperforation technique used in production creates an ultra-lightweight profile that’s extremely breathable. In addition, it serves as a convenient system for attaching your race number on race day. It’s no wonder these made the cut of our favorite gym shorts.
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.
This brand-new titan of the On family features the brand’s largest CloudTec sole for a ride that’s energetic and irresistible. A soft sockliner and recycled materials add comfort to the silhouette, creating a profile that’s playfully weird yet undoubtedly capable.
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.
Good taste blends seamlessly with race-ready performance in the Van Cortlandt Shorts from Tracksmith. Made from a lightweight, antimicrobial fabric, the 4-inch inseam and classic silhouette combine for a retro look fit for the modern runner.
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.
Looking to battle those morning run chills in a high-functioning midlayer? The Circuit Crew Pullover blends soft organic cotton with a recycled polyester lining to keep you cozy in lower temperatures while fashionable enough for everyday wear.
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.
These running socks are carefully crafted to help you put your best foot forward. The minimal cushion and tight fit help you get closer to your shoes than other options for a feel that puts you in control of every stride. Plus, the “Run or Die” statement will leave no question whether you’re dedicated to the sport.
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.
Take to the streets with these running sunglasses and you’ll experience a lightweight frame that’s blinding with comfort. A hypoallergenic nose pad sits cozily through every step. Also, The Nagata Speed Blades come with a 630GSM microfibre running pouch for safe keeping when you’re not logging new PRs.
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.
The standard is the standard with this iconic soft brim running cap. The lightweight GOCap features Ciele’s COOLwick mesh for comfortable wear, and is also machine washable. However, good luck finding an excuse to take it off once you don this foundational running accessory.
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.
Gear up to compete with these shorts made from Japanese water-resistant ripstop fabric. The 2.5-inch inseam provides plenty of freedom to make every stride count, and the side split seam can provide just enough flex for optimal leg extension.
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