Running Insight 3.7.23

Page 1



A focus on wellness and innovation are keys to charting a successful running apparel course in 2023.

We are currently living in one of the most unpredictable economic environments of the last decade. Consumers today are faced with the pressures of continued inflation, increasing layoffs and a possible looming recession. Simultaneously, there are also reports of wage growth, low unemployment and continued consumer spending.

These contradictory indicators make for a blurry map as we navigate rough waters. However, when we look below the choppy surface there are some clear indicators of growth and opportunity for the run specialty industry, certainly in their footwear efforts but increasingly in their marketing and selling of run apparel. Understanding key demographic markets coupled with consumers’ innovation needs and behavioral shifts will help the active apparel market to chart a course for future success.

The adult activewear market closed 2022 with $71 billion in U.S. sales, according

2 © 2023 Diversified Communications The Running Apparel/Fashion Issue
RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2023 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email except for two print issues year. The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Diversified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500. SUBSCRIBE BACK ISSUES Advertise Editorial Christina Henderson Daemon Filson Glenn Dulberg Mark Sullivan Beth Gordon Michael Jacobsen Cover photo courtesy of Hoka. Photo this page by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash


Live every moment to the fullest and healthiest with Currex insoles. Available in three arch profiles, they’re clinically proven to help prevent injury, enhance performance, and provide comfort. But most importantly, they’re engineered to keep you going. Learn more at

Jack Fidell Dad and Runner High Arch Profile

to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service. Sales revenue was flat compared to 2021 — the result of a five percent increase in average prices as unit sales declined by a similar five percent.

However, let’s not overlook the fact that activewear sales remain 37 percent above 2019 levels — a positive indication that consumers have carved out a need for active apparel in their wardrobe. While the market has grown across most consumer segments since 2019, over 60 percent of the growth came from household incomes of $100K and above. Despite third-party reports of increased layoffs affecting this demographic, the higher income consumer continues to lead the

activewear industry in terms of overall spending.

These higher income consumers were also the most focused on exercising in 2022, with 53 percent identifying exercise as a top priority, which is about 10 points higher than other consumer segments.

Furthermore, quality is a key factor when they are buying activewear for exercise. In fact, three out of four shoppers in the $100K and above income bracket prioritize quality above all else when it comes to their future activewear purchases, according to the NPD Future of Apparel forecast.

This obviously is a core market for run specialty retailers and tapping into the

higher income consumer, who is active in the category and open to investing in higher-priced product in the name of quality, will benefit activewear sales.

A Focus on Wellness

While the activewear market presents continued growth potential for run specialty, a few actions need to be taken to maximize the opportunity.

The market is coming off a particularly strong 2021 as many consumers who replenished their active wardrobes for athletic use did not need to repurchase this apparel in 2022. A general apparel observation is that once consumers have fully replenished their wardrobe to satisfy their needs, purchase drivers become fueled by two things: trend and innovation.

Yet the current activewear market is experiencing a pullback on those two very things. Taking women’s active bottoms as an example, there were 64 percent less new items sold in 2022, compared to 2021.

For running apparel brands, leaning into technology that sets them apart will create a competitive advantage, whether it’s a patented fabric or innovative pattern. As a retailer, a relationship and communication with the consumer will be a two-way street. Listen to their specific apparel needs and wants and utilize and train knowledgeable sales associates to be sure to address those needs.

Identifying the innovation openings is largely dependent on understanding consumers’ needs, many of which stem from the concept of wellness. This focus on wellness is not anything new, but how consumers

are defining it is fundamentally changing.

Over the last three years there has been an increased focus on prioritizing sleep, skincare and a work/life balance as wellness priorities. This shift is being led by younger consumers — this year, sleep and skincare are leading in terms of wellness initiatives for 18-24-year-olds.

It’s important to understand that, overall, 91 percent of 18-24-year-olds prioritize wellness, which is higher than any other age group. Identifying both the physical and mental benefits of going for a run, and the sense of community it creates, can lead a new generation of active and engaged sport participants.

It feels as though every few months, running apparel brands and run specialty retailers are faced with new headwinds making the journey to the consumer that much more challenging to navigate. Identifying the behaviors of target demographics, pulling the levelers of innovation and championing a holistic approach to wellness are key points of interest for your map as you chart a course for future success. n

4 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Uncertain Patterns (continued)
For running apparel brands, leaning into technology that sets them apart will create a competitive advantage, whether it’s a patented fabric or innovative pattern.
Photo by Official on Unsplash
ALLERGEN FREE ©2023 Body Glide MADE IN THE USA RELIABLE NOT MESSY years INVISIBLE COMFORT® 27 DON’T RUN WITHOUT IT ® Runner’s Favorite Chafing and Blister Prevention Since 1996 click



Last year, Running Insight began a now-annual tradition of asking run specialty store leaders about the gear they love wearing on the run. From head to toe, 2022’s respondents – Steve Moore of Run Moore in MD, Dom Chevalier of CA-based Healdsburg Running Company, Ian Gonzalez of Chicago’s Last Lap Cornerstore and Karen Roberts of Get Fit in Amarillo, TX – offered a diverse mix of products that enhanced and energized their runs.

Running Insight senior writer Danny Smith returns to the well this year and poses the same question – When you head out for a run these days, what gear are you grabbing? – to a new quartet of running store leaders from across America. Their insights provide an intriguing look at what’s resonating in the contemporary run specialty market and underscore just how diverse the personal tastes of runners can be. Plus, they are looking good!

6 © 2023 Diversified Communications
What running retailers are wearing on the run Running Apparel/Fashion Issue
844.413.5457 // SHIPPING NOW NEKKID COMFORT PERFORM ANCE SOCKS No show, no slip no worry! Click for proof!

Jeff Anderson, a former advertising executive and nonprofit staffer, entered the running retail business in 2014 when he purchased Kelley’s Pace in Mystic, CT.

Nathan Reflective Hat

“I’ve had this hat for at least four years, so long I can’t even remember its proper name. On runs in the dark I like to know I have some reflectivity so I’m showing up for others.”

Brooks Canopy Jacket

“Though a light jacket, it keeps me warm even in the middle of a New England winter. Bonus points for having a hood if I need it.”

Brooks Momentum Thermal Tight

“They’re soft on the inside, warm, not too tight and have an easy pocket for my phone or keys.”

Darn Tough Run Quarter Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock

“They’re just so darn comfy and they last forever.”

rabbit EZ Tee LS

“It’s comfy and soft on my skin while wicking moisture away, which is precisely what a base layer needs to do.”

rabbit EZ Zip 2.0

“Soft, thin and light. The perfect layering quarter-zip.”

Garmin Forerunner 745

“The 745 has a long battery life and gives me all of the stats I could possibly need.”

Craft Core Insulate Split Finger Glove

“My hands are always cold, but these gloves keep me warm while still allowing me to use my thumb or forefinger if I need to do something with my watch or phone.”

ASICS Glide Ride 3

“The Glide Ride has been my go-to shoe for years. They have a synthetic plate in them with a bit of a rocker, which allows me to run without hurting my odd big toe.”

8 © 2023 Diversified Communications

Harry Chandler, who began his run specialty retail career nearly two decades ago at Michigan-based Playmakers, is the co-owner of the four-store Charlotte Running Company enterprise in North Carolina.

“This tee has a tailored fit and looks nice enough for me to go from a run into grab a coffee without feeling funny.”

“As long as I cover my head in some cool weather, I’m good to go, so this is essential.”

“My favorite part of this short is the boxer-brief liner. I’ve got larger thighs and the four-way stretch liner fits just right and eliminates any chafing.”

“These gloves are super lightweight and keep my fingers warm.”

“It’s a soft material that feels like traditional Merino. Plus, it’s super cushiony.”

“If I’m on the road, the Altra Escalante is my favorite shoe, but since I’m on the trails more often this time of year, the Lone Peak is my go-to shoe. What I love about the Lone Peak 7 is what I’ve loved about every Lone Peak: With all of the updates, it still feels the same every time.”

10 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Vuori Strato Tech Tee Mizuno Breath Thermo Knit Glove Vuori 5-inch Kore Short Balega Enduro V-Tech Low Cut Socks Altra Lone Peak 7 Charlotte Running Co.-branded BOCO Gear Pom Pom Beanie

KJ Jimenez is the chief operating officer at Red Rock Running Company, a three-store run specialty retailer located in Las Vegas.

Brooks Drive 3-Pocket Run Bra

“I don’t need a bra to do anything more than make me street legal and hold my phone — and this bra never fails.”

Red Rock Running Company Tee

“Our Red Rock-branded tee has that nod-tocotton feel, so it’s soft rather than silky, which I prefer.”

Red Rock Running Company Soft Shell

“This jacket has more of a down alternative around my core with nice, light sleeves and watch holes around each wrist.”

Red Rock Running Yoga Pants

“Yes, it’s Vegas, but I’m a huge wuss with weather so I need pants when it drops below 50 degrees. These pants are high-waisted and stay around my waist, which I’ve always had a hard time finding.”

goodr sunglasses

“It’s freakin’ bright in Las Vegas, so sunglasses are a must.”

Shokz OpenRun Headphones

“Las Vegas has lots of traffic, so I always want to be aware while I’m out on a run listening to music or podcasts.”

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

“I don’t know how to function without this watch on my run. It helps me keep a steady pace and every time it beeps at the mile mark, I think ‘Go me!’”

Swiftwick Aspire Zero NoShow Socks

“I don’t like fluffy socks and these are perfect – not too thick and not too thin.”

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer

“With the illegal stack height, I feel like I’m breaking the law every time I go out in these shoes. Super cushioned and they make me feel fast.”

11 © 2023 Diversified Communications

J-M Bailey, owner of the Mythic Running Company in Fernandina Beach, FL, sported some of her favorites at the Alabama-based In the Heat of the Night 100K last August.

goodr Sunglasses

“The most comfortable athletic sunglasses I’ve worn. Truly no fog, no bounce, no slip and lightweight.”

Mythic Running Company Hat

“It’s whatever brand the printer uses, but it’s a great hat.”

rabbit EZ Tank

“This tank is buttery soft, doesn’t chafe, comes in great colors, breathes and fits me perfectly.”

Athleta Ultimate Bra

“This bra holds up well to lots of washing and wearing, has great colors and, most importantly for me, doesn’t have hooks.”

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking/Running Poles

“Beyond the 50-mile mark, or for particularly technical trails, trekking poles are game changers to prevent falls, keep me upright when fatigued and certainly help reduce recovery time. These poles are adjustable, foldable and lightweight. They’re also anatomical left and right with wrist straps and soft foam handles.”

Dirty Girl Gaiters

“They’re cute, practical and can be used on any shoe.”

Altra Timp 4

“The improved drainage on the Timp 4 is noticeable and truly helps my feet feel drier after encountering water. The slightly closer-to-the-foot fit of Altra’s ‘standard’ fit reduces how much my foot slips around on downhills while still providing plenty of toe-box space.”

Junk Headband

“Stretchy, soft and super wicking and when it’s completely absorbent it helps keep me cool as well.”

UltrAspire Momentum Race Vest

“This hydration vest stays flat on my shoulders and the separate, semi-soft flasks tuck nicely into my back and keep the weight evenly distributed.”

rabbit Dirt Pounders 4-inch Short “Yes, rabbit apparel is an investment, but it’s well-designed, well-made, durable, anti-chafe, cute, comfy and filled with pockets!”

OS1st CS6 Calf Sleeves

“I like OS1st because it’s a single knit-piece medical-grade zoned compression comfortable enough for a 100-miler. Plus, I like supporting a Southeastern company!”

Injinji Trail Midweight Mini Crew

“The Injinjis work well at blister prevention on my toes since the socks separate each toe. That provides extra wicking and cushion, especially for longer efforts.”

12 © 2023 Diversified Communications

Going Private (Label) The Running Apparel/Fashion Issue

A step-by-step guide to a private label program to complement a brand assortment.

Iwas a private label developer and didn’t even know it. That’s because in 2001 I worked in the UK, taking a role with an accessories company designing bags for various brands. These included large retailers like Selfridges and Tesco. I also designed bags for FIFA; all the bags for the 2002 edition of the FIFA World Cup were designed by me.

A year later, I moved to Canada and started my career in merchandising and buying. While at Caban, a division of Club Monaco, I was tasked with developing a cashmere program to sit beside our branded product assortment. It seemed like a daunting request. I had no idea where to start because I wasn’t formally a product developer.


was I?

My work in 2001 was that of a private label developer, although no one called me that. Brands and retailers often came to me with requests to design a private label program. This is exactly what Caban was asking me to do.

Many independent retailers have their own “where do I begin?” moment when they consider developing private label products of their own.

In this article, I will show you the value of private label products, how those products sit beside branded items, and how to get your program off the ground.

Step 1: The Value of Private Label

The first question to ask is: Why do private label to begin with? Actually, there are two good reasons for it.

First, higher margins for private label products compared to branded counterparts. Second, broader freedom in product design.

Further, private label serves as inflation insurance for retailers as this provides a viable option for price-sensitive customers. As such, large retailers have well-established, robust private label programs. Costco, Target, and Wal-Mart have Kirkland, Good & Gather and George brands, respectively, for example. All of these are well-known and are performance

drivers for the retailer.

Naturally, the question needs to be asked about how private label product sits alongside branded items? Simple. The intention is not to displace or compete with branded items in-store. Branded product is a core component of any run specialty assortment and is the main driver of footfall. Instead, the goal of private label is to fill in

14 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Run specialty retailers can use a private label effort to complement their branded assortment, Just be sure to ask your customers what they want from your store before setting out.
#1 TRUSTED INSOLE IN RUN SPECIALTY © Superfeet Worldwide LLC | All Rights Reserved | 800-634-6618 CLICK TO LEARN MORE There's more to foot shape than arch height. Get the right t for every runner's needs with a range of underfoot solutions, from exible cushioning to stability and support, and made-to-order 3D-printed insoles. THE RIGHT FIT FOR EVERY RUNNER

the gaps within the assortment; complement branded items, offer something unique to customers and drive volume sales.

Don’t Copy, Create

When developing a private label program, there are obstacles run specialty retailers will face along the way. These include:

1. The product does not fill a gap or complement the assortment.

2. Your vendor partner doesn’t understand what you want.

3. The product quality is not at the standard your customer expects.

All originate from a common thread: You don’t understand what the customer wants.

Here’s a story about the cost of not understanding what your customer is looking for. During my time at Caban, we saw competitors bringing in capsules of sleep and loungewear. In an uninformed manner, we decided to do the same. We enlisted a manufacturer, designed a collection, and sent it to all our locations.

It bombed.

Our epic fail was that we didn’t ask the customer if this

was something they wanted from us. We made our decision by trying to copy the competition, not by talking to our customers. This was an expensive lesson, teaching us that the center of all decision-making is what the customer wants.

So, how do you figure out what the customer wants?

This is where the running community shows its value. You have a direct line of communication with enthusiasts willing to share their thoughts.

As a starting point, ask your customers what they need that they are getting at a competitor or big-box retailer. Identify what you are losing to your competitors by category, style and price point. Comp shop to see what customers are buying that doesn’t exist in your product assortment.

Consider surveying your running community about what product they would like to buy from you. There may be an opportunity to invest in preor post-run products that your shoppers can’t find anywhere else. This could be a chance to collaborate with the community on customized products for events, runs or teams.

Capture market intel by

asking brand ambassadors what customers are asking for. Additionally, install a standardized method for capturing customer feedback on your existing assortment. For example, capturing detailed information during returns. This enables you to find opportunities to improve on sizing, fit, and function.

Next: Choose Your Partner?

Once you decide on what to include, you have three options to start creating products:

1. Partner with your vendors to develop a program together.

2. Work with a wholesale partner and purchase from a catalog.

3. Source, design, and manufacture from start to finish with a factory partner.

First, you can approach your vendor partners and talk about their willingness to partner on products. Vendors have skills, manufacturers and a defined supply chain. They benefit by getting relevant data on what product resonates with customers.

Partnering on products also means negotiating terms and conditions. These include

waiving minimum order quantities and product testing before committing to larger orders. This approach is very common among independent retailers.

Second, you can approach wholesalers that have an existing catalog of products. The wholesaler can source and manufacture products from start to finish. All you need to do is add your label to the process. The downside here is the lack of customization and collaboration. You don’t have as much control over the product quality as you are choosing from a list of pre-existing items.

Finally, you can choose to work directly with a factory — from design to production. Although you will have

16 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Going Private (Label)
Choosing a private label partner is crucial to a successful retail program. This shows how private label offers both greater design freedom and high margins.
It’s crucial to test products. Evaluate their instore performance before committing to large quantities. Pay the surcharge to learn if your products are what your customer wants.
© 2023 FOOTBALANCE SYSTEM LTD. url: • e: • p: 603. 501. 8883
less than 10 minutes, give your customers a personalized fit – 3D foot scanning, biomechanical
product recommendations –
get a GUARANTEED 75% SALES CONVERSION RATE on custom insoles. Bring our 3D foot-scanning technology into your store for FREE
MyFootBalance® CHALLENGE
analysis and complete
molded right in your
Take The

the most design freedom, this will be a very time-consuming process. Many independent retailers might not have the bandwidth – or expertise – to do this. However, recent trends in nearshoring might make this a more tenable option.

Now: Test and Evaluate

It’s crucial to test products. Evaluate their in-store performance before committing to large quantities. Pay the surcharge to learn if your products are what your customer wants. This is far cheaper than the cost of holding excess inventory at the end of the season.

Create a checklist to evaluate performance; include the following questions as a starting point:

1. Does this style resonate with my customers?

2. What sizing and fit work best for my customers?

3. Are there any patterns that are emerging?

4. Is the product priced competitively in comparison to the brands we carry?

5. Is this product relevant enough that we can invest in it season after season?

At this point, if your findings are encouraging, committing to larger quantities of product makes more sense.

As an example, we spoke to the team at Charm City Run about their experience with private label.

“Our private label program has definitely expanded over the last few years,” reports Charm City apparel buyer Lisa Costello, explaining that the retailer started with socks and has now expanded into a fairly

large apparel offering from tees to sweats to shorts and jackets.

“We have experienced the most success thus far when we have printed on tees, tanks and sweats, although having our logo on solid in-line apparel like men’s shorts has been a nice addition as well,” she adds. “We have a wide range of customers who want to help promote our brand, but not everyone wants to wear a graphic tee all the time so we are lucky to be able to offer a little of both.”

If you’re considering a private label program, bookmark this article as your guide. Remember, although you have higher margins with private label, the products aim to fill gaps in the assortment.

Having a deep understanding of what your customers want ensures that you don’t waste time and effort. Choose product development partners carefully and avoid committing to large product quantities before testing in-store.

Voila! You are now a private label developer. n

Retail Strategy Group works with global brands and retailers, helping them accelerate speed to market, improve profitability and increase organizational effectiveness. Clients span across categories, including performance apparel, accessories, outdoor, footwear and retail tech. Its monthly newsletter, The Merchant Life, attracts retailers seeking merchandising and product creation insights. Learn more at www. and

18 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Charm City Run has made a significant effort towards its own private label apparel program — with impressive success.
Going Private (Label)
If you’re considering a private label program, bookmark this article as your guide. Remember, although you have higher margins with private label, the products aim to fill gaps in the assortment.

The Running Apparel/Fashion

Support System

Understanding the art of selling sports bras can lead to a new profit center for run specialty.

Run specialty retailers that are keen on tapping into a new revenue stream by establishing themselves as sports bra specialists will find that the steps are simple, yet require a roadmap that includes a realistic approach to stock, staff, space and marketing. Here’s how to do it.

While sports bras are an essential piece of protective equipment that almost 50 percent of the running population will need to purchase at some point in their running journey, it remains a largely neglected segment by most run retailers. Many will stock two or three brands with patchy stock on hand, merchandised among apparel, with no trained fitters on staff.

But like any technical product – which sports bras most definitely are – if you

don’t have a solid range to sell and trained team members to push it, then it’s nearly impossible to do well in the category. If you can’t offer an outstanding retail experience, you are never going to become known as the specialists in it.

And you most certainly won’t benefit from the product category driving additional customers into your store through word of mouth if you aren’t investing in all of the above. Put simply, a half-way approach won’t ever result in stellar outcomes for your customer or your business.

Stocking Sports Bras for Runners

What does an ideal stock room of sports bras look like? This, of course, depends what sort of outcome you are trying to achieve. If you want to build a marketable

offering in store, you are going to have to have a product range to match. A few tips:

• No fewer than six leading brands should be on hand and on shelves, hangers or mannequins.

• It’s a good idea to have a mix of “sports brands” and “lingerie brands.” That’s because not all sports brands do sports bras well — many are simply sports crops marketed as sports bras. And of course, not all lingerie brands do sports bras well. But because they will take different approaches from a support perspective, appeal to different people and cover varied size ranges, having both will help you achieve success for your customers and broaden your appeal when advertising.

• 36DD is considered the average bra size in the U.S., so this should be treated as your

20 © 2023 Diversified Communications
It is vital to stock various types of sports bras for different types and shapes of runners. No fewer than six brands should be on hand at all times.
HYDRAFORM™ CHILLER™ Gets colder as you go! 20oz. 12oz. Order now!! Ships early April Just freeze, fill and go! Cools your fuel and body! Revolutionary Cooling Handheld New! | | 800.806.1288

middle of the bell curve size. To offer an inclusive range of sizes you should cover cup sizes A-K and band sizes 30-46. Again, not only does this serve as a genuine solution for your customers, it also helps to create your marketable offering by giving your store a strong point of difference in the marketplace.

• Assuming that all runners are looking for racerback nonwired bras is a big mistake. While this may be a well-known combination, it certainly isn’t appealing to all. Your range should include a variety of design features such as scoop back straps, underwire, foam lined, crop style, hook-and-eye clasps — just to name a few.

• Maintaining your stock levels with weekly replenishment so you aren’t left with gaps in sizes is essential. Because of the sheer number of size variants with sports bras, it’s tricky to go deep in sizing. An ideal approach is to go broad and shallow and work with core styles that are held in good quantity by the supplier.

Sports Bra Retailing Tip

No. 1: One of the real benefits when working with technical sports bras, as opposed to fashion crops, is that technical sports bras don’t tend to be rotated in and out every season,

or updated like other apparel and footwear.

Staffing Up To Know Your Stuff

Having the right staff, trained well and enthusiastic about the category, is a critical part of retailing sports bras successfully.

To become an expert in sports bras and breast biomechanics, start by doing a thorough literature review of the latest research and hallmark studies in breast support. From there move on to an in-person bra fitting course or have an experienced bra fitter run a bespoke course on-site for your team. Virtual training could also be option.

Taking on training from brands you intend to stock is another process towards the end of your staff’s training. A word of warning: Be cautious with advice or training you accept from people who may not be experts or have hands-on experience.

Store owners can consider training just a few key team members that are perfectly suited to the sensitive role of fitting sports bras and educating women about breast support. Having a small number of highly trained team members also helps to create a marketable offering; for example, “We have trained sports bras fitters here on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.”

To go one step further, creating a by-appointment sports bras fitting service helps to highlight your specialty, control overhead, improve customer outcomes, increase dollar spend per transaction and explode your word-of-mouth referrals.

Investing in training staff will undoubtedly set your store apart from competitors and have you

taken seriously from both your suppliers and your customers. It’s not something to be skipped over or skimped on.

Sports Bra Retailing

Tip No. 2: Sharing how your team is upskilling on your social media channels will also help you build credibility with your biggest fans, who are then most likely to support and refer to your business.

Space and Merchandising

If you want to treat the breast support category as apparel, then treat it that way. If you want to elevate it and market it as the technical product it is, move it away from other apparel in your store.

Merchandising bras on mannequins is certainly the gold standard. Most bras don’t have a ton of hanger appeal and don’t stack well against each other on hangers — you don’t really want to draw your customers’ eyes to that. Consider having a section of your shop dedicated to displaying bras on mannequins to create a neat visual for your team and to draw in your customers.

When designing a fitting room for customers to try on sports bras, or ideally be fitted for sports bras before the actual sale, there is a lot to consider. Your customers try-on experience can make or break any potential transaction.

Your sports bras fitting room should be larger than a traditional apparel fitting room because having space for a salesperson to slip in and help is critical. Other tips include positioning your fitting suite in

Support System (continued) 22 © 2023 Diversified Communications
A spacious changing room is a must for an upgraded bra selling experience.

a very private part of the shop, using a curtain (not a fixed door) and adding a treadmill for optional wear testing.

Sports Bra Retailing

Tip No. 3: Any woman will have tales to talk about how tricky some sports bras can be to get on and off. Creating a space that promotes an easy change environment will pay dividends.

Marketing Matters for Bras

So, are you now convinced that you should step up your sports bras game? Then you know that having a well-thoughtout plan to broaden what you are known for is a must.

The good news is that if you’re an established store, it’s likely you already have a big contingent of people that know, like and trust you. In marketing, especially for a category such as sports bras, this is the toughest piece of the puzzle to acquire.

The best way to get started is to take your existing customers on the journey with you as you build out this specialty. Tell them what you are doing and why you are doing it. Survey them about sports bras, ask them their pain points, hear their stories and listen to their ideas. Involve them in your stock selection process on social media. Most importantly, show them how your team is upskilling to gradually build your credibility over a period of months, not weeks or days.

The great news is that all the common issues women have with sports bras can be solved with a broad range of stock and great service. If you’ve invested in your stock room, your staff

training and optimizing your space it’ll be clear to any potential customer that you could be the answer to their many problems.

Sports Bra Retailing Tip No. 4: Remember that women are not conditioned to believe cheap or affordable is a good option with bras. Focus your marketing on solving the many problems women endure with breast support and how you can solve them. Price is not the main issue here.

A Surprise Superpower

The most common consumer we see at our fittings is not a marathon runner or a long-term gym junkie. She is new to running or just getting back into training after a break. She is desperately seeking advice.

She doesn’t have a good idea about her size or support requirements.

She values function over fashion and while she may be price-aware, her final decision is not driven by price.

She will buy every option that makes her feel the way she aspires to feel or makes her feel like she will be able

to accomplish her newfound goals.

Because she has a clear goal that is motivating her, every purchase to achieve this is justified. She is a very good customer to have walking in your door. Not only does she need sports bras, but she also needs shoes, socks and apparel. She may be seeking out a running group. And she is likely to progress to more technical products soon.

Sports Bra Retailing Tip No. 5: A run specialty store owner needs to understand upfront that sports bras is not a category that can be done halfway. To make the most of the thousands of women in your area who are desperate for help with this product, you need to go all out. If you build it, they will come.

Adding a specialty offering like sports bras to your run specialty store will set you up to sell more than just additional a few more sports bras — it could be your marketing superpower. n

About the author

Tish Tily is the co-founder and managing director of She Science, a specialty sports bra store in Australia. Over the past decade she has developed a retail model that offers by-appointment sports bra fittings and She Science is now considered market leaders in Australia. Tilly is available to consult with run specialty retailers looking to transform their sports bra efforts. She can be reached at tish@shescience.

23 © 2023 Diversified Communications
The typical customer for a sports bra is looking for technical gear to help her achieve her physical goals — price is not the deciding factor.

Running Apparel/Fashion Issue

Oiselle and Janji Merge

In a unique and unexpected merger of two running apparel brands with two very different focuses, Seattle-based Oiselle and Janji, headquartered in Boston, have merged operations in a strategy to share expertise that will “make the two companies better together.”

Oiselle, with a focus in women’s running and athletic apparel, and Janji, a running apparel brand with a mission to expand access to safe drinking water worldwide, will continue to operate as sole entities leveraging each other’s resources for growth, establishing an omnichannel footprint and reaching new markets. Oiselle and Janji will maintain their separate headquarters in Seattle and Boston, respectively, and both brands are releasing new collections for Spring/Summer 2023.

Oiselle founder Sally Bergesen will step away from day-to-day operations and will operate in an advisory role, with long-time Oiselle president Atsuko Tamura continuing to lead the brand while the company looks for a new CEO. Janji’s co-founders, Mike Burnstein and Dave Spandorfer, will

remain in their roles at the company, while Matt McCalpin has been named managing director of partnerships supporting operations across both brands.

“Everything Oiselle will stay Oiselle and everything Janji will stay Janji — even better,” is how Spandorfer explains it to Running Insight. “We are two similar size brands who realized that we are better together and that we want to grow in the specialty channel,” he says.

There are not concerns about the two brands cannibalizing each other since, as Spandorfer points out, only four percent of Oiselle customers have purchased Janji product.

He admits that it is a unique merger and that there will be challenges as backroom operations and support services are sorted out. Oiselle’s Volée and Janji’s Collective affinity programs will continue to be a part of both company’s community efforts, while the exact makeup of the sales force remains to be determined but will most likely remain a combination of in-house sales and independent reps as currently exists.

“By coming together, both brands can grow their communities, lean in on their strengths and continue their unique mission — to support runners and make the world a better place through running,” says Spandorfer. “This merger allows us to think incredibly long-term and support our communities even more.”

“The Oiselle and Janji partnership is a unique opportunity for both of us. Oiselle’s mission and vision since its founding in 2007 as our true north continues to meet a void in the industry.” Tamura says. “It’s exciting that female athletes around the world are looking for brands that not only inspire them, but one that understands and honors them as people as well as athletes. The joy and character that develops from running – and all sports – is quite contagious. That’s what is at the heart of Oiselle’s full mission and this partnership with Janji is our next chapter to keep on running.”

The merger, which was completed in early February and announced later in the month, was facilitated by venture capital firm Digsbury Ventures. n

24 © 2023 Diversified Communications
The two apparel brands will operate independently while exploring synergies to expand their running reach.
Janji’s Mike Burnstein (left) and Dave Spandorfer Oiselle’s Atsuko Tamura (left) and Sally Bergesen


The Ultimate All-In-One Foot Scanning Solution

Quick, easy and accurate. All the features and benefits you could possibly need in one compact device.

Call 800.526.2739 or visit Watch to learn about The Aetrex Technology Difference >

Best Feet Forward

Fashion is increasingly impacting footwear design in 2023. /

Much like the technology found in performance running footwear, the aesthetics of running shoes continue to evolve as well. Taking cues from fashion, art, street culture, tech and even space exploration, brands are merging performance and style in increasingly dynamic and fresh ways.

Inside this ever-evolving world of running footwear, those tasked with defining colors, textures, branding and other elements of a shoe’s physical look are pairing intuition with mounds of research to create – months (often many months) in advance, mind you – compelling styles capable of catching consumers’ eyes.

“The days of predictability are on the wane … [though] there remains demand for a certain degree of sophistication,” New Balance design director-color Sarah Tenney says.

From wild to mild, Running Insight corrals the help of a few industry friends to explore what’s coming up the running footwear fashion pipeline.


Balance FuelCell

SuperComp Elite v3: Bright colors remain in style, especially in racing product.

26 © 2023 Diversified Communications The
Apparel/Fashion Issue
R3 Express™ R3 Convertible Series Selling fast - order now! R3 Express™ E: T: 800.806.1288 RUN TIME TO SOCIAL TIME New!


With brands embracing sustainability at an accelerating pace, particularly in midsoles and upper materials, and consumer interest in sustainability rising, it should come as no surprise that footwear brands are looking to highlight their environmental ethos in visual ways.

Many brands are embracing earthy, natural tones to hint at sustainability, including colors such as ivory, taupe and moss green.

Altra color and trend designer Shelby Trueax anticipates an increase in more nature-inspired pastels, particularly lighter colors, such as dustier-looking pinks and blues. And expect to see these earthy tones paired

with pops of bright colors, especially since demand for bold, athletic colors remains popular, particularly in racing product.

In addition, Meredith Nash, strategic business manager for performance running at New Balance, says brands will represent sustainability aesthetically in other ways, too, such as using speckled midsoles.

“The aesthetic of sustainability is something we’ll see more and more,” Nash assures.


For years, men’s running footwear owned dark, heavier colors like navy blue and charcoal, while women owned the pinks and purples. Those days are changing, as colors increasingly skew gender lines and brands

embrace a more unified color direction in which men’s and women’s models share colors.

“It started in lifestyle and is rolling into performance,” explains Paul Lang, senior merchandising manager for performance running footwear at ASICS.

The concept of genderless color is particularly taking root with more neutral hues such as oatmeal, sand and gray. New Balance, meanwhile, is developing a soft beige color it’s calling Timberwolf.

And even rugged trail shoes are embracing the genderless aesthetic. Altra’s Lone Peak 7, which dropped at the start of 2023, features one men’s colorway with a visible purple outsole and another with a

peachy midsole.

“There’s so much fluidity and we’re going to see more of this across performance run,” Nash says.


In a move she calls “guiltless expression,” Brooks senior manager of footwear materials Stefani Lovley sees more brands stepping away from the color wheel and creating artisanal hues, such as bolder brights, especially on speed product. Brooks, for instance, is utilizing low-impact dye methods and getting deeper saturation in colors, specifically brights.

“You don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics and beauty for performance or sustainability,”

Best Feet Forward (continued) 28 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Salomon Glide Max Trail: Earthy tones with pops of bright colors. Altra Lone Peak 7: Blurring gender’s traditional color lines. Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro: Using the midsole as a canvas. ASICS Nimbus 25 Lite-Show: A genderless colorway with elevated design touches.

Lovley says.

A willingness to explore color in new ways could prompt even more monochromatic footwear. While triple white and triple black looks remain popular, Florian Lang, global business unit director of road running at Salomon, foresees more colored midsoles and interesting blockings. ASICS’ Paul Lang, meanwhile, sees room for triple khaki, triple sand or triple gray options or perhaps even a triple mint look to play on seasonal tones.

“We can open up wider from where we are,” ASICS’ Lang says.


With high-stack midsoles now commonplace across the industry, including models that go above and beyond the racingrule limitations of 40mm, there is now greater opportunity to use the midsole as a canvas.

Brands are adding pops of color to the midsole and are also incorporating ombré looks blending one color hue

to another. Some are also using the expanded midsole to tell a more dynamic story with pattern, color or design.

The black-and-white Kakizome print colorway on the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro, for example, covers its midsole with a hand-splattered paint process employed during production. Like a fingerprint, every midsole is different, an element that adds to the uniqueness and personality of the eye-catching model.


On its “Run Merry” holiday edition of the Revel 4 back in 2020, Brooks incorporated velvety red laces in a nod to Santa and the holiday season. That small detail earned attention and praise. Running stores and their consumers can expect more of those “little Easter eggs,” Lovley says.

From texture moments to an inspirational quote running across the heel in cursive script, brands will look to surprise and delight runners with unexpected, distinctive details that create

richer connections and distinguish the shoe.


ASICS’ Lang sees performance running footwear embracing more neutral colors on uppers, including black, white and different shades of gray. However, he sees these neutral uppers being paired with elevated details, whether its laces or logos brought out in exciting new ways.

While the recently released ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25 LiteShow carries a straightforward navy blue upper, the ASICS logo spanning the side of the shoe features a floral-inspired design with pink, purple and yellow hues — a nod to the aforementioned genderless trend since the men’s and women’s styles are the same. The shoe also features orange lace loops holding navy blue laces.

“We’re turning up the radio dials and balancing it with neutrals,” Lang says.

Trueax attributes such

elevated details to more travel and discovery in the post-pandemic world and a yearning for colors that evoke happiness and optimism. She suspects men’s footwear, in particular, will increasingly incorporate stimulating colors such as deep reds and red-orange hues inspired by space exploration.


When Brooks introduced the Aurora-BL in mid-2021, a limited-edition product from its intentionally forward-looking BlueLine Lab, it did so with a mesh, almost transparent upper in specific places. Look down upon the toe box, in fact, and you could see your wiggling toes.

As consumers seek lighter product, many expect translucency to gain appeal, especially in speed product. Translucent layers manufactured with a strong textile can provide support and breathability while giving the illusion of lightweight, Lovley says.


Like apparel design, footwear design can be polarizing and many predict unconventional looks will only accelerate in performance running footwear. Expect disruptive colorways for people who want to stand out, Trueax says, such as vibrant yellows paired with earth tones, uncommon color and texture pairings or daring pops of neon colors alongside beige and other nature-inspired tones.

“There’s more expression of uniqueness and individuality and less tradition,” Trueax says. “There’s a lid for every pot and certainly a group of people who like different and unique.” n

29 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Brooks Aurora-BL: A new colorway. Same futuristic, fast-looking translucency.

A Sock In Time


I’d be willing to bet that most folks reading this article have no idea how many pairs of socks they own. I certainly did not, but more on that later. First, a bit of a history lesson on this basic, yet essential, apparel product.

The first socks were made from matted animal hair and were called piloi. The origin of socks dates back to the Eighth Century BC in ancient Greece. Thankfully, we have come a long way since then.

There wasn’t much of a change in socks until the Second Century (AD). Animal skins were replaced with knitted fabrics creating socks that bore a greater resemblance to the ones we wear today. The Romans were the first to sew fabrics together to make what were known as udones. These were softer and more fitted than their predecessors. It wasn’t until the Firth Century that socks made their way to Europe. By then, they were called puttees and were

considered a symbol of purity. As such, they were reserved for those associated with the Church. Originally called stockings, the word sock actually comes from the English word socc, meaning light slipper, both words derived from the Latin root word, soccus.

Not surprisingly, socks were originally intended for protection from the elements. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that socks in bright colors began to be worn as a fashion accessory. It is interesting to note that originally stopping at the ankle, socks now got higher as pants grew shorter, as was the rage in those days.

As the demand for socks began to rise, so did their prices. Socks became so expensive that they were worn mostly by noble families who were able to afford them. Anyone wearing socks back then was immediately associated with the upper class. So much for history.

Here’s a look at the sock market today and what experts expect going forward.

• The major materials dominating the market are divided by cotton, wool, nylon, polyester and a few other fabrications such as cashmere.

• Of those, cotton accounted for nearly 45 percent of all sales according to the latest data available (2021) and is expected to continue.

• Jasan, based in China, is the world’s largest manufacturer of cotton socks, producing an estimated 400 million pair annually and employing 8000 people. Given that, it may come as little surprise to learn that 90 percent of the world’s socks are manufactured in China.

• Closer to home, the U.S. sock market, with sales approaching $8 billion, is expected to grow at a rate of 6.4 percent from now until 2030. The industry breaks socks down into four major classifications,

30 © 2023 Diversified Communications
The Running Apparel/Fashion Issue
Attractive margins, small square footage and high turns make the sock market a winner. / By Ritchie Sayner
We are a full-service marketing agency who goes above & beyond for our valued clients. MORE CUSTOMERS. MORE OFTEN. LESS WORK. LEARN MORE AT UPPERQUADRANT.COM Email Marketing and Automation Paid Social Marketing Advanced Industry Reporting

ankle, no-show, crew and kneehigh. Of those, ankle and no-show socks are expected to outperform the others. This makes sense given the increasing trend of athletic socks. With today’s emphasis on health and fitness and customers’ increasing awareness of higher quality socks for workouts and outdoor sports activities (running, hiking, pickleball, golf), the opportunities for retailers to capitalize on this market segment are outstanding.

Nice Margins, Small Commitment

The attractive margins, relatively small square footage commitment and turnover potential that characterize the sock business all spell positives for specialty stores. According to Adam Hambleton, planning manager at Management One, the average initial markup for their more than 200 retail clients polled was 56.5 percent. Markdowns amounted to 8.8 percent and year-over-year sales for 2022 were up 3.3 percent. Further breaking the sales percentages down by month reveals that 44 percent of annual volume was generated in the fourth quarter of the year, with October contributing 9.4 percent, November 13.3 percent and December at 21.9 percent. The remaining months of JanuarySeptember all averaged about six percent.

The M1 data also reveal a relatively conservative inventory turnover of 2.4 as well as a somewhat shy percentage of total store revenue coming in at a mere 1.8 percent. Both metrics indicate a substantial upside could be achievable in the sock classification when given the attention deserved. Three

retailers prove this point:

• Data provided to me by Matt Lucas, accessories buyer at Karavel Shoes, which has one location in Austin, TX (home of The Running Event!!!), demonstrates the upside potential of the classification if managed efficiently. Socks make up 3.7 percent of total company sales, have an annual turnover of 3.3 times, a maintained markup of 55.4 percent and experienced a sales increase of 7.2 percent in 2022 with the seven main vendors he carries.

• Meredyth Melcher, operations director for The Running Well Store, a three-unit retailer based in Kansas City, MO, reports that socks generate an impressive “7-10 percent of total company sales during a given year,” demonstrating the power of suggestive selling. Her six major vendors turn 2.3X overall, but the larger brands have turn rates approaching 3.5X.

• Heyday, a very successful home and gift store in the upscale resort town of Bozeman, MT, reported a 2022 sales increase in its sock classification of 29 percent. Complementing the nice increase was an astonishing inventory turnover of 5.9 times, all of which coming from novelty offerings, begging the question of possible supply chain issues and/or inconsistent reorders.

Rely on Your Vendors

These successful specialty retailers recognize the GMROI potential of the sock department and aggressively promote by taking advantage of available vendor programs. And vendors of all shapes and sizes are ready and willing to help out.

According to John Gaither,

CEO of Feetures, a premium performance brand carried in many shoe stores and run specialty shops, the selling process begins with staff education.

“Performance socks provide an opportunity to enhance the consumer experience and help drive incremental sales at healthy margins,” he says, a message that their sales reps will be consistently delivering in the coming year. As part of Feetures commitment to the retailer, try-on socks are provided, complimentary socks for staff and activation programs developed to help engage the retailer’s core consumers are part of the assistance offered at the vendor level.

Other merchandising ideas retailers use to drive sales in the sock class include the use of B3G1F (Buy 3, Get 1 Free) promotions with vendor assistance provided by way of discounts, sale bins of close outs and various sales contests and incentives for associates.

How Many Socks In Your Drawer?

So to get back to my original question about how many socks an individual owns, just for fun I conducted my own informal survey of friends, family members, business associates and neighbors to find out how many socks they own. The random sample consisted of 27 men and 17 women.

Big surprise number one: It is well accepted that women buy more clothes than men, but not socks. I found it common for men to own over two-and-a-half times more socks than women.

Big surprise number two: The men informally surveyed owned an average of 67 (!) pairs of socks, while women

had only 25 pairs. The counts ranged from a low of four (not a misprint) to a mind-blowing 336 pairs owned by a former professional basketball player, which may account for a good portion of his drawer-busting inventory.

Not big surprise number one: Most folks only wear a small percentage of the socks they own, myself included.

How many pairs of socks do you own? Why not conduct your own survey of friends and staff and see if your results mirror mine. Depending on your outcome, assortment modifications could be beneficial to profitability. n

About the author

Ritchie Sayner has spent more than four decades helping independent retailers improve sales, profitability and cash flow. Sayner is a regular contributor to several retail industry publications. Prior to embarking on his retail consulting career, he was the general merchandise manager for an independent department store in the Midwest. He can be reached though his website at www.

32 © 2023 Diversified Communications
The attractive margins, relatively small square footage commitment and turnover potential that characterize the sock business all spell positives for specialty stores.
Best Running Stores of 2023 Have a favorite running store? Tell us why they should be selected as a 2023 Best Running Store. Nominations Are Open! Learn more and submit a nomination today: The 2023 Best Running Stores will be honored at The Running Event, taking place November 28-30 in Austin, Texas. The Running Event’s annual awards program recognizes the run specialty retailers who have proven their dedication to customer service, community, and the industry. Nominations close Thursday, March 30!
34 © 2023 Diversified Communications Run apparel trends race ahead in 2023. RUNNING RUNWAY Sprints’ bucket hats feature the brand’s signature lightweight fabric, tear-drop vents and a speed-proof strap. Colorways feature Flamingos, Brunchin’, Totally Tubular 80’s, Partying Pineapples and Sir Dabs A Lot Leprechauns. MSRP: $38.00 PARTYING PINEAPPLES?


Frrom studio to street, FP Movement, a Free People brand, offers performance-ready activewear that reflects the transformative power that is Movement. Its product sits at the intersection of function and fashion celebrating bold colors and patterns. In photo is the Get Your Flirt On Short, MSRP: $40.00, and the All Star Bra, MSRP: $40.00

35 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The Brooks High Point Waterproof Jacket features 14k/14k-rated waterproof and windproof DriLayer Seal fabric protection, semifitted construction with a breathable membrane for range of motion and a packable design.

MSRP: $198.00

36 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Alter Ego Running’s Premium Performance Running Hats are made with AER Splash water repellent technology and HyperPoly+ fabric in five fits and a range of styles. MSRP: $49.00

37 © 2023 Diversified Communications

The CEP Reflective Windbreaker features a unique 360-degree lightning pattern across the back, front and arms that keeps runners visible on low-light runs. MSRP: $139.95

Outdoor Vitals Altitude Sun Hoodie is made of premium ultralight fabric that shields runners from the sun without causing overheating. MSRP: $49.97

Voormi’s Access NXT Pullover is made using its Surface Hardened technology, built with 4-way stretch knit wool and finished with a durable water repellent finish. MSRP: $229.00

The Hydrotech Everyday Short is Sky Manufacturing’s 7-inch inseam all-purpose quickdry short with a breathable liner that is sweat-wicking and functional around water. MSRP: $55.00

38 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The Swift Long Sleeve from La Sportiva is a technical baselayer with a quarter zip, thumbholes and a high neck for any outing where where moisture wicking performance and a little extra warmth are needed.

MSRP: $89.00


Skechers Going Places Run Short is a mid-rise short featuring a flexible moisture-wicking Skechweave fabric, back security zip pocket, elasticized comfort waist with interior drawcord and an interior knit brief. MSRP: $39.00

39 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The Under Armour Women’s Rush Seamless Long Sleeve features infrared technology that reflects the body’s energy, along with a soft knit fabric with engineered mesh ventilation, mapped to the places needed most. MSRP: $75.00

40 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Chickn Legs’ smily face shorts put a smile on runners’ faces and can be worn for trail running, road racing and everything in between. These split running shorts have a lightweight fabric, soft liners, comfortable waistbands and funny printed designs.

MSRP: $35.00

41 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Saxx’s DropTemp Cooling Mesh Tee keep runners cool and features breathable, quick-dry DropTemp.

MSRP: $50.00. The Hightail 2N1 Running Short comes in a low-profile design and is equipped with a Kinetic Light-Compression Mesh Liner. MSRP: $68.00


Pressio’s Elite Short Sleeve Top is made of EcoTech microfiber, 100 percent recycled polyester and four phase moisture management along with Mint Active antibacterial for natural odor eliminating protection.

MSRP: $65.00

42 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Rabbit’s Mock Neck Waffle has a loose-fitting, slouch neck and dropped shoulders to wear for runs or recovery. This long sleeve is partially made from Tencel, a sustainable fabric derived from wood pulp.

MSRP: $65.00


The Under Armour Men’s UA Storm Run Hooded Jacket features UA Storm technology that repels water without sacrificing breathability, along with wind-resistant construction and reflective taping for added visibility.

MSRP: $75.00

43 © 2023 Diversified Communications


rapid drying, silky touch and four-way stretch fabric.

44 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Perspective Fitwear’s Flow Tech Crop provides breathable coverage and is made with MSRP: $42.00


Craft’s Pro Trail Singlet for women has a small stretch mesh pocket at the upper back yoke to store light items. The front is made of 93 percent recycled polyester and seven percent elastane. MSRP: $74.99

45 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Dynafit’s Trail Graphic Wind Jacket is made of recycled materials that guarantee the highest breathability and comfort even on high intensity climbs with its open mesh construction on the back. The cut is athletic and body-formed, so the jacket doesn’t flap about at higher speeds. MSRP: $149.95

46 © 2023 Diversified Communications
47 © 2023 Diversified Communications


FlipBelt athletic crop pants have an anti-chafe flat seam construction and breathable moisture-wicking material and – even better – pockets. MSRP: $56.00

48 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The Balconette Sports Bra from Wildrax delivers a feminine, modern and versatile bra that features moisture wicking properties and newly engineered bra cups for a balconette shape in a sports bra. It draws moisture from the body, absorbs UV rays, is antibacterial and fade resistant. MSRP: $140.00

49 © 2023 Diversified Communications

Boco Gear’s Ventilated Endurance Hat features a lightweight, crushable build with ventilated sides and a shorty, flip-up bill. MSRP: $31.99

Drymax Speedgoat Lite Trail Running Socks were developed with Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer. This sock has an almost “not there” feeling while providing leg protection. MSRP: $18.00

The Speed Cap by Buff is an advanced sports cap with a snug fit that combines comfort and performance. Made from ultralight recycled materials, with a dark underbelly to absorb the glare of the sun. MSRP: $32.00

Junk Brands’ newest collection of trending solid colors headbands are breathable and add a pop of color to running gear to keep runners feeling stylish. MSRP: $16.99

50 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Territory Run’s quick drying hoodie has the weight and soft feel to retain warmth on cold days while its moisture management keeps runners dry. MSRP: $75.00

51 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Darn Tough’s Men’s No Show Tab features a silky, chafe-eliminating cuff, high-performance flex zones and a supportive fit. Built with ultralightweight, wicking Merino. MSRP:

52 © 2023 Diversified Communications

The OS1st Nekkid Comfort invisible sock does not slip down into the shoe thanks to a silicone oval grip, a specially constructed heel and light compression around the arch. Fit this sock with track spikes, low-profile running shoes and everyday wear to protect from blisters, odor, rubbing and pulling. MSRP: $14.99

SockGuy socks are engineered to inspire runners everywhere with weird, fun, offbeat designs. SockGuy socks are manufactured in the USA to create no blistering, high-style socks. MSRP: $11.95

Falke’s Stabilizing Cool Socks have a cooling vegan Lyocell mix and feature a moisture-wicking threelayer construction to keep feet dry and blister free. MSRP: $35.95

53 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Injinji’s updated Run series integrates an anatomical design and has been reconstructed for increased durability and comfort. The integrated form-fitting elastic allows for a restriction-free feel and an improved breathable top that pairs with moisturewicking CoolMax EcoMade fibers. MSRP: $14.00

54 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Feeture’s Elite Invisible Sock has targeted compression and technical mesh ventilation. The higher tab protects the ankle while staying hidden and Heel Hugger 2.0 silicone tape helps the sock stay up in strenuous of running conditions. MSRP: $18.00

55 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The ALRN Crop Bra from Alwrld follows the brand’s standards for sustainable activewear and is made from recycled and eco-friendly fabrics without compromising quality or style.

MSRP: $58.00

56 © 2023


Top Knot’s Performance Light High Ponytail Baseball Cap features laser-cut mesh to allow moisture and heat to escape easily. The patented high magnetic back closure gives the freedom to wear high and low hairstyles. MSRP: $38.00


Thorlo Experia X Speed is made from eco-friendly Repreve performance fibers. Powered by ionic+ technology, it is engineered to release silver ions in the presence of moisture vapor, delivering antimicrobial benefits. MSRP: $15.99–$16.99

57 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Weather protection without over-heating. The Nagino Run Jacket from ASICS helps shield against the wind and rain while offering advanced breathability. Its versatility makes it great for unexpected weather. At least 50 percent of the garment’s main material is made with recycled content to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

MSRP: $105.00

58 © 2023 Diversified Communications


The rnnr Crew hat is made with six panels and a structured brim. The back four panels have laser-cut holes to keep runners cool and comfortable. The structured brim curves like a traditional hat but still flips up for visibility and the brand’s signature sweatband is behind the front panel for moisturemanagement and the back strap has elastic stretch to keep runners headache free.

MSRP: $34.00

59 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Saucony’s Pinnacle Crop Tank dries fast, won’t cling and features a polyester knit front panel powered by TurboWick, a patent pending fabric technology that uses capillary action to move sweat in one direction to the outside of the garment to keep runners dry and comfortable. MSRP: $60.00.

60 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Hoka’s go-to for trail running and hiking. This all-new next-to-skin layer features a temperature-regulating Merino blend and is designed to keep runners dry and comfortable in warmer temps. They will never want to take it off — and with its odor-resistant qualities, they might not have to. MSRP: $58.00

61 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Balega’s ultra-technical lightweight sock features a contoured performance fit and protective zonal cushioning in the toe, heel and unique metatarsal pad. UltraGlide is knit with Drynamix moisture-wicking yarns and friction-free yarns, providing protection against hot spots and blisters. MSRP $18.00

62 © 2023 Diversified Communications


Anita’s Air Control DeltaPad in lipstick shade provides support and air circulation with its breathable, triangular DeltaPad foam cups with extra-flat seams, a soft, perforated under bust seam and a breathable mesh section lined with power tulle in the back. MSRP: $82.00. The High Waist Leggings feature a textured fabric with integrated 3D nubs that give a continuously toning leg massage and can help improve blood circulation. MSRP: $139.00

63 © 2023 Diversified Communications

Ultimate Effort Switchback in RI

The brand also just hosted its first Athlete Summit since 2019, where it brought eight athletes into its headquarters for product development and field testing, as well as team community-building.

“Building a team of skill, strength, passion and community that we can nurture and support this year was our top priority,” explains Robyn Howard, director of brand and marketing for Exxel Outdoors. “We are impressed by our team members’ performances on and off the trail — from working to build community within their neighborhoods and to training for top performances at this year’s notable events, we know the team will shine.”

2023 Athlete Roster:

Amelia Boone, Ultrarunner and OCR.

Cameron James, OCR.

Grayson Murphy, Trail, road, and track runner.

Celebrating the unique pursuits and interests in the sport of fastpacking and trail/road running, Ultimate Direction, the Colorado-based brand that designs apparel and gear for self-propelled athletes of all levels, recently revealed its 2023 athlete roster of trail and road runners and FKTsetters. The brand has selected 17 athletes who are committed to living life with play and passion while exemplifying dedication to their individual sports and communities.

This announcement comes at an exciting time after recent race wins including Jeff Colt’s (in photo at right) irst place overall and Nicole Bitter’s second place female overall podium at the 2023 Bandera 100K, Joseph Gray’s first place podium win at United States Snowshoe Association’s National Championship race, and Ryan Montgomery’s third place male overall podium at Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB 102K.

Jacky Hunt-Broersma, Trail and ultrarunner.

James Lauriello, FKT-setter and trail runner.

Jason Schlarb, Trail and ultrarunner.

Jeff Colt, Trail and ultrarunner.

John Kelly, FKT-setter, trail, and ultrarunner.

Joseph Gray, road and trail runner.

Justin Simoni, FKT-setter and trail runner.

Kriste Peoples, Trail runner.

Kyle Robidoux, Trail and ultrarunner.

Nadia Ruiz, Trail and road runner.

Nicole Bitter, Traill and ultrarunner.

Ryan Montgomery, Trail and ultrarunner.

Tara Warren, FKT-setter, trail, and ultrarunner.

Zach Bitter, Road, trail, and ultrarunner.

Throughout the year, Ultimate Direction will be highlighting each athlete’s individual journey and contributions to their sport and community through its social media channels. n

64 © 2023 Diversified Communications
Ultimate Direction propels into 2023 with trail running and road team to grow the sport.
Produced by: Join us in 2023 Contact your dedicated account representative or email to get the conversation started. TRE 2022 at a Glance EXHIBIT AT The Running Event 2023 NOV 28 – 30 / AUSTIN, TX Get in early! Reserve your booth at TRE 2023 today. The connections made and the retail store owners who attend the show are of high quality and bring so much value to our business.” – TRE 2022 Exhibitor 1,350+ retailers and event management professionals 96% of exhibitors are projected to return to TRE 2023 More than 4 in 5 attendees plan to attend TRE 2023 *Data from TRE 2022 post-event survey

ONE MORE THING The Running Apparel/Fashion

Do you believe in socks? Or maybe the better question to ask is, Do you believe that wearing a quality technical sock matters? Odds are that you do. After all, you’ve been doing this run specialty thing for a while now and surely understand the merits of an essential synonymous with our landscape.

But what about your team? Sure, they may be able to rattle off features and benefits of a well-made sock, but do they actually believe in socks? If they don’t, or, if their sockish feelings are ho-hum and neutral, they probably are not going to inspire customers to feel strongly about a product that makes a giant difference in shoe fit and overall comfort.

So how do you get your team to be as passionate about socks as you are? Simple, you need to regularly share your fiery sock passion. You need to teach folks why socks matter more than simply rattling off a sock’s awesome technical attributes. Tech is cool, but context for deeper understanding is what makes people truly believe in a thing.

Beware the Sock Bin

But I’m jumping ahead, let’s back up for a sec and review how so many run shops still introduce socks — the sock bin!

The infamous sock bin is overflowing with paired-up socks. It sits somewhere near the fit area so fitters can dip into its depths to offer a sample sock as customers try on shoes. Maybe they take a moment to chat about what a quality sock can do, but also maybe not. Maybe the customer’s threadbare cotton faves overrule the pair nabbed from the basket, maybe not.

Regardless, that sock bin is always a

bit of a mystery because, I mean, is that sock actually even clean? Or, is it one you still carry and, assuming you do, do you have new inventory in the customer’s specific size?

Let’s face it, the sock bin is old school. You do it that way because you’ve always done it that way. In reality, the sock bin feeds into passive salespersonship. It never inspires staff or customers to truly believe in socks. And frankly, that sock bin, no matter how diligent you are about keeping it clean, is still kinda gross. If you are still rocking it, it’s time to modernize.

Making Socks A Good Fit

Belief in socks results from teaching staff the good-better-best scenario. When we match a customer to a properly-fitted shoe, that’s GOOD. When we add a smart sock to the shoe setup, it’s BETTER. Add an insole to the whole shebang and, boom, this is the BEST.

These three items together are the ideal. We ought to commit to ensuring every customer experiences this ideal. And though our focus is on creating an experience, not selling, I assure you that this sort of adherence will generate numbers like you’ve never seen before.

But first your staff needs to hear how thrilled you are for any opportunity to teach a customer about something better than just shoes. They need to hear you believe in it before they can believe in it. Additionally, your fit process ought to be logically building this good-betterbest trifecta from the bare foot out. After ascertaining the customer’s foot shape and major landmarks, you give that bare foot a fresh sock. The socked foot then experiences an insole. And finally, that whole bundle goes into a couple of different shoes as the customer feels this ideal trio. “Take it or leave it,” I’ll often say to folks en route. All I care about is that they have a chance to feel the BEST setup before anything else.

Good Socks Mean A Good Run

Do this: Teach fitters why the sock is an experiential component of the ideal fit and not simply an upsell. Expose that hot fire in your belly for why and how a sock matters. When you do, employees are far more likely to incorporate socks into their outfitting repertoire. And ironically, when they do so in this logical order of good-better-best, they’ll generate amazing sales numbers while not ever actively trying to sell a sock at all.

Good teachers know that their excitement is a requirement for their learners’ excitement. Active your team by sharing your beliefs so they might sit on that fit stool and do the same for their customers. n

66 © 2023 Diversified Communications
The Thrill of Socks: Sales associates have to get excited about the sock market to sell more of them. / By

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.