Athleisure Brands You Should Know About
The need to exercise can strike at any moment, so these fitnesswear brands have done away with the business of “getting changed”.
By KATE JOHNSON on 12 APR 2016
Claire Kent and Bill Byrne founded the British crafted runwear brand
What inspired you to start Iffley Road?
Claire: We’re extremely keen runners – we met through running over 20 years ago. We were fuelled by our love of running and having nothing nice to run in.
Bill: I’d shocked everyone by being one of the first to wear loud, red Lycra leggings from the New York marathon. We launched in 2013. We’re called Iffley Road after the running track at Oxford, where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. It’s an historical site and a huge part of British athletics. The aesthetic of that era appealed: fewer logos, the attitude – it was the era of the last of the great amateurs – and the love of the sport. Claire had run while at Oxford University, so there was a personal connection, too.
What makes Iffley Road different?
C: Quality and fit. We go to great lengths to find fabrics that are technical and able to withstand repeated washes. Every time we repeat a garment, we refine it. Our goal is to create running clothes that are timeless.
Is it important to you where you source materials?
C: The fabric we use for most of our short-sleeved tops and vests is bespoke technical piqué which we developed in a Portuguese mill and is unique to us.
B: The fabrics are European, T-shirt fabrics come from the mill and the Merino wool for the tops comes from Italy, due to Italian expertise in wool.
How do you describe the Iffley Road look?
B: It’s retro. We take that design inspiration and combine it with leading-edge technology.
C: All our tops have a riven hang loop in gold, purple and green, which are the colours of the original AAA [Amateur Athletics Association] stripe on Bannister’s vest when he broke the four-minute mile. We don’t celebrate the romance of our incredible history of runners enough. There’s something beautiful about that classic British style heritage in fashion that’s missing in running wear. We use muted colour inspired by the British elements: navy, black, grey and fell green. There’s no neon.
How important is exercise to you?
C: I believe running changes your life. Whatever your problem is before you go running, you’ll come back feeling better.
B: I’m a fan of exercising outdoors. It’s as much of a workout as the gym: you can pull up on trees, for example.
What are you developing?
B: Hybrid shorts. We already have classic shorts, pared back for racing or serious runners, and longer ones with side pockets that can fit a tennis ball.
C: We’re developing jogging bottoms and tracksuits, but everything we create has to be functional. We’ll never create anything that’s not for running.
(Other brands featured were Vulpine, Finisterre and Arc'teryx)