Getting lost in a sea of neon, spandex, logo-emblazoned running gear is easy. Ridiculously easy- everyone is “just doing it”. When you’re ready to dial it back, to focus more on style than flash, that’s when you reach for Tracksmith.
Tracksmith is a New England-based brand dedicated to giving running with the respect it deserves. Serving competitive runners and style makers alike, the brand is serious about quality, performance and the community it serves. Uncluttered yet utterly complete, Tracksmith attracted us with it’s brand focus and reverence for runners. It was last featured on Brandettes in September as a favorite brand for it’s old school look and high performance fabrics, but we were curious to learn more about the backstory on a brand so compelling.
Matt Taylor, CEO and Co-Founder of Tracksmith, married his credentials as a seasoned sports marketer together with a personal passion for running when he launched Tracksmith. We’ll let Matt fill you in on the rest…
We’re interested in the birth of a soulful brand like Tracksmith. Matt, did the idea come from seeing a hole in today’s market or as a way to better serve the runner?
I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember. I ran varsity cross country and track in high school, and then in college. After graduating, I built a career in the sports industry and ultimately became Global Head of Marketing for running and fitness at PUMA. But, the longer I was in the industry, the more I became frustrated with the way brands were marginalizing elite achievement in favor of watered-down fitness messaging and homogenous product. The seeds for Tracksmith were born from a desire to treat running and racing with the respect it deserves.
So that’s where the brand’s ethos comes from: our passion and commitment to competitive running culture. But from a strategic level, about three years ago, I started looking at the running industry as a whole to see where there was an opportunity to make an immediate impact. Through that discovery process we recognized that men’s apparel was really the black sheep of the industry – it doesn’t get a lot of attention or resources. So that’s why we decided to enter the market there in 2014. We saw an opportunity to come in and do something that was distinct and really hone our message.
Your brand name is quite clever- how did the name Tracksmith come to be?
We did a lot of obsessing to pick the perfect name to reflect the spirit of the brand and what we’re trying to achieve. We wanted a name that communicated our passion for racing and craftsmanship. “Track” reflects the competitive spirit that we look to celebrate. There’s a seriousness and purpose that’s inherent in running on the track versus just hitting the roads. “Smith” reflects the care and precision with which we approach everything we do.
Tracksmith feels retro and modern at the same time. What’s been the biggest inspiration for your design aesthetic?
We’re inspired by classic American style and collegiate sportswear – there’s something so compelling about the simplicity and meaning of those pieces. We also draw lot from our New England heritage and its distinctive, competitive running culture. The characteristic weather, the landmark races and the elite amateur ideals of its schools and club teams are all reflected in our brand, our products and our ethos.
What have your opportunities & challenges been in keeping Tracksmith’s production centered in New England?
We strive to make the best product possible and have always been sourcing from around the world, whether that’s fabrics in Switzerland, zippers from Italy, cotton from Massachusetts or working with manufacturing partners in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Central America and Asia. We know that factory relationships are critical and work tirelessly to find the best local and global partners and push one another to deliver the highest quality product possible.
Because of New England’s storied history in textiles, we do have the opportunity to work with local partners on a lot of our products. For example, our core Grayboy is made entirely in New England. The fabric is knit, the shirt is sewn, and the graphics are printed within an hour’s drive of our Wellesley headquarters. For the Grayboy’s Varsity Cotton, we recreated the classic cotton/rayon athletic fabric with Draper Knitting, a sixth-generation 100-year old textile mill in Massachusetts.
METER magazine is a really beautiful way to help experience the Tracksmith brand. It captures the emotional side of running along with the technical. Has the content helped connect Tracksmith to a new audience?
METER is about celebrating the untold stories within running culture. With that as its mission, it really allows us to build and deepen our relationships with runners around the world – whether it’s capturing their unique story in long form, working with different writers and photographers to get their perspective on the sport, connecting with readers or even different running stores and magazine shops that stock the publication.
Finally, can you share your favorite New England running route?
Our office is located at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon in Wellesley, so I end up doing a lot of my running around town. It’s one of the best running towns in the state with great trails, open areas, tracks, ponds and lakes. A favorite loop begins and ends at our office on Central Street. You run east through town and hop on the Brook Path, which connects you to the aqueduct trail towards Wellesley College, where you’re surrounded by picturesque farmhouses and old colonial stone walls. Then you head around Lake Waban, which borders Wellesley College and the Hunnewell Estate. You can jump off the path and run a few laps on the track, or weave your way through campus. It’s an absolutely gorgeous run, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing.
Follow Tracksmith @TracksmithRunning and fall for the brand just like we did.
Images courtesy of Tracksmith