6 Small Running Brands Making Big Impacts

Photo: Pierre Robichaud, Monster vs Robot Photography

Modernity Meets Legacy

Tracksmith, founded 2014, Wellesley, Mass.

Call it New England, throwback, or classic Ivy League style—Tracksmith’s apparel is truly a unique offering within the running market. And yet it harks back to running’s roots, borrowing concepts from the past that have become lost in the present sport of running.

“I found that the sport itself was being relegated and more brands were going for a much broader health and wellness method,” says founder Matt Taylor, who was the head of global marketing for Puma’s running and training category before launching Tracksmith in 2014. “I wanted to create a brand that kept the history, legacy and traditions alive and act as a steward for the competitive side of the sport.”

Where better to start than the most iconic running city in the nation: Boston. The Tracksmith office is located right at the halfway mark of the Boston Marathon in Wellesley, Mass., and hosts monthly 13.1-mile group runs from the Boston finish line to the front of the office.

However, the brand has also been criticized as coming across as “elitist”—cotton T-shirts cost $55, running shorts are $70 to $80 and a knit hat runs $38. But Taylor says the brand is all about producing quality apparel tied to the origins of the sport.

“The way we look at it, racing in the culture of running plays a pretty significant role in the brand,” he says. “It’s just part of the DNA, and we really believe the richest reward in running comes through racing. Anybody can partake in the type of brand we’re creating.” That’s partially the purpose of Tracksmith’s own quarterly magazine, Meter—to inform and involve the consumer with the culture and history of competitive running.

Along with setting up its pop-up store at the Boston Marathon for the second straight year, the brand is also looking to expand from its purely online sales model and move into local run specialty stores this year. And even bigger than that, Taylor says to watch out for a Tracksmith racing event sometime during the second half of 2016.

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