RunBK is a Brooklyn-based apparel company that “plays in the intersection of fashion and function, where fabrics with incredible touch and feel have been paired with performance characteristics.” Like other boutique brands in the running industry, they exist to give runners more options than the traditional big-name brands. We followed up with our 2018 interview and gear review from last year to get more insight into the company’s history and how their apparel can provide a more enjoyable running experience for you.
How did RunBK start?
MR: Many companies start by trying to solve a problem. A “pain point”, if you will. The problem RunBK is trying to solve is that runners suffer from a dearth of apparel that is both functional but also truly fashionable. (You could just as easily wear our cyclone vest to a bar as you could go for a run it.) Most running pieces are overwrought in their design and overly technical, and the landscape is dominated by a handful of behemoth brands. Consumers continue to voice their desire for choice, which is a significant tailwind for boutique brands.
What struggles have you run into starting a small company?
MR: Predominantly: anonymity. Who wants to throw a party and have no one show up? Luckily that hasn’t been the case thus far but achieving material brand recognition is a major challenge. Layer in all of the inherent challenges associated with the apparel manufacturing process and you’re dealing with a deadly Mike Tyson-ish one-two punch.
What differentiates your brand from other boutique running brands out there?
MR: We don’t try to differentiate ourselves from the boutique brands out there. Why? First, there aren’t many to begin with. Second, in aggregate the total boutique market share is incredibly small so why even bother? They have similar missions to RunBK! There are historical parallels in other industries, such as craft brewing. Many passionate makers of craft beers formed independent breweries and carved out a small but meaningful market share from the big mainstream brewers by offering consumers products that are authentic, unique and compelling.
What makes your apparel suitable for urban running?
MR: We design running lifestyle apparel for all runners. The aesthetic may often have more of an urban feel, but the pieces will work for anyone embracing a running lifestyle. For example, our WillyB short just showed up in Trail Magazine on a runner competing in the Leadville ultra. If that doesn’t speak to its functionality in any setting, nothing does. If we had to pick one feature that is driven by the demands of urban running: reflectivity. We aren’t shy with it.
How does Brooklyn influence the design or function of your clothing?
MR: Aside from the logo? 😉 #crossthebridge
On your site, you mention that many call your WillyB short the “perfect running short.” What makes it a perfect pair of shorts for runners?
MR: For a number of reasons:
- We have embraced the aerated 2-in-1 liner design. Not everyone is ready to embrace it. We blame inertia. But they should. The liner is comforting, not restrictive and not too long that it falls well below the length of the shell and you’re mistaken for Agassi in ‘92.
- Pockets. Multiple, discreet interior pockets in addition to a rear external pocket. We are baffled as to why so many brands are so shortsighted and cheap with regard to adding pockets to their shorts.
- High quality fabrics that avoid the universal “crotch rot” pitfall. It’s a thing.
- Reflective pocket and logo accents that’ll keep you from getting hit by a bus.
As an owner, what is your favorite piece of apparel?
MR: The WillyB Short, of course!Shop the WillyB Short
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the running apparel industry?
What’s the best way to actually run Brooklyn or New York City?
MR: Bridges. It’s all about the bridges.
Where can our readers find your apparel?
MR: Our website, and certain running specialty shops we’ve targeted specifically because they are important influencers and curators in their respective communities. I say this with all seriousness: we’d much rather people experience our pieces via purchase from one of our brick and mortar retail partners. We’re huge believers in the channel and what they do. These partners are listed on our site.Shop RunBK Apparel
Robbe is the Digital Marketing Manager for Big Run Media/BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.