The Best Running Brands Are Mile-Tested and Editor-Approved
Runners have more gear options than ever, and these labels are leading the charge
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Running is a wondrous thing. Rarely is any activity, let alone an endorphin-inducing one, so simple. Toss on a tee and a pair of shoes, walk out the door, don’t forget to stretch (seriously, don’t) and you’re off.
If only. For gearheads like us, the sport is just as much about the nuances of super shoes and merino mesh as it is our weekly mileage. We are well and truly entrenched in the nitty-gritty of running gear, and admittedly, we love it. for those less initiated but full of similar vigor, know that Nike and Adidas (while sometimes great) are not the only way. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of running-specific labels hell-bent on innovating and improving the classic sneaker and apparel formulas in pursuit of a lighter, faster and overall better run.
Below, we’ve highlighted 10 of these brands that every runner, from seasoned triathlete to first-time couch-to-5Ker, should know. Some, like Tracksmith, bring a distinct set of aesthetics and performance to the sport, while others — we’re looking at you, Janji — are committed to a sustainable future that all milehounds should be able to get behind. Whether you’re in the market for new daily trainers, searching for a tee you can rock on the track and at the function, or just an obsessive polishing up on your general running knowledge, these are the movers and shakers of running in 2023.
The Best Running Brands to Know:
Best for: Premium essentials with a touch of New England charm
An amalgamation of old-school mileage commitment, Ivy League aesthetic and cutting-edge performance fabrics, Boston-founded Tracksmith has been leading the charge in boutique running for over a decade. Their commitment to wearable running apparel that looks amazing — their lookbooks constantly rival anything happening in the menswear space — and executes even better is without equal. Their retro-striped singlets and split shorts, in particular, lean on upgraded mesh and merino for a natural-leaning feel in the breeziest of cuts.
Best for: High-fashion runners looking to take things to the next level
Form meets function in Satisfy Running, a Parisian boutique turned IG-lauded bastion of running apparel at a premium (and we mean premium) price tag. Somewhere between streetwear label, design house and running company, Satisfy is crafted for performance with an eye for aesthetics — the infamous moth-eaten “Running Cult” cutoff is practically built for the runway — and opts for the finest cotton and synthetic materials to help you run well and look even better, on the track and off.
Best for: Race day kits and total mileage vibes
Birthed from a bustling London running scene, Tim Soar’s eponymous brand is specifically designed to conquer mileage in traditional Brit fashion — that is, the technical nature of a host of tees, tights and tanks get straight to the point. That’s not to say they don’t look great, too. Zip up one of their tonal track jackets, and you’re just another bloke out for an afternoon pint and a red card or two.
Best for: Technical road shoes with alternative-feel cushioning
Swiss running brand On’s elite gear is the product of nearly a decade of striving for a superfoam running shoe scientifically proven to lower blood lactate levels in runners, and it shows. Featuring a signature pocketed sole, the label’s footwear — not to mention a variety of training gear, from rain jackets to socks — is top-notch stuff. We should know, given that we run in it daily.
Best for: Lightweight gear for hometown heroes and industry insiders
Bandit is fast. The Brooklyn-based running brand/collective clearly takes life a kilo at a time, given their meteoric rise from an indie IYKYK label making silky singlets and shorts to one of the hottest names in running. We’re expecting great things, especially given the looks of the soon-to-be-released fall collection: cop up and prepare for improved mile times and some sly nods from the speediest folks on the track.
Best for: Brutalist trail shoes that can outrun anything, anytime
Norda was recently branded as the “Land Rover of trail running shoes,” a moniker we believe sums them up perfectly. Founded in 2020, the trail running shoes burst onto the scene with an endorsement from Runner’s World as the best trail shoe of 2021 before quickly establishing a name for themselves as a tanky, cushioned runner built in the Canadian backcountry and imbued with Kipchoge-esque stamina. They’re total bruisers…and can handle NYC slush, too.
Best for: The optimal blend of sustainable practices and performance apparel
Janji has been a name in boutique running for as long as boutique running has been a thing, but unlike some of their competitors, the Boston-based brand stands out not so much in design — although we can’t fault their collection of technical gear, especially not their specially printed “Artist Series” — but in mission. Grounded in sustainability and equitable social initiative, the label donates a portion of proceeds to global efforts to combat water scarcity in the likes of Nepal and Peru.
Best for: Running eyewear. Period.
District Vision is the GOAT of boutique running, period. Yes, the product is expensive and high-concept. Yes, it’s worth every cent. Founded in L.A., DV sources their best-selling eyewear — endorsed both by elite athletes and Jeff Goldblum — from Japan, utilizing a cultish blend of wellness practices and serious technology to produce a pair of speedy shades we genuinely don’t know how we lived without.
Best for: ‘Heads only garb that’ll treat you well on race day
Running fanatics might recognize Sauri as the Los Angeles-based label behind some of Lost Boy Track Club’s most prolific looks. We like to call the brand running’s best-kept secret. Combining some heady tie-dye sensibilities with a bootleg aesthetic and serious performance fabrics, each item (limited as they may be) is worth their weight in Zone 2 miles.
Best for: Ergonomic-fit apparel that feels like athleisure
Pruzan Running is one of the newest running brands on our radar; founded by two female athletes based in London and Los Angeles, the label is seriously design-forward, with sleek cuts and high-waisted fits that look more like a Parsons project than an 18-miler short. We’re just as impressed with their mix-and-match wadrobe ethos as we are with their sustainability commitment: all of Pruzan’s fabrics are composed of 100% recycled polyester.
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