WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
As a highly-fashionable and uber-trendy person in your normal life, it can be pretty disturbing to find out that your newfound active lifestyle and its accompanying wardrobe is anything but. Time to upgrade your high-street activewear and swap your school P.E. kit for something designer we think.
But if you’re thinking money spent on top cycling clothing brands or the best running brands is taking budget away from your non-active wardrobe, think again. Your body is your best investment and exercising is the best way to look after it, and more than this, a nice piece of designer sportswear can be just what you need to beat Karen from work’s 5k time, and that is something money can’t buy.
Whether you’re the next Usain Bolt, or you just enjoy cycling around and annoying people in cars, leveling up your athletic wear can be a functional yet fashionable way to make your daily dose of movement that much more enjoyable. Here’s our list of the best designer running and cycling brands and which essentials to get from them.
Best Designer Running Brands
Running Essentials: Running Jacket
Less than ideal weather conditions should never be an excuse to skip a run, but a sodden hoodie doesn’t feel or look good when running either, time to swap your cotton sportswear for something more technical. If you’re the type of runner who’s in it for the ‘natural high’ and sees their daily pavement pounding as their moving meditation, then Satisfy is the brand for you. Their goal is to eliminate any distractions that prevent you from achieving the higher states of consciousness through running, which is exactly what their running jacket does. Super lightweight and breathable to keep the cool air in and let the warm air out, and constructed from a water-repellant, windproof and fast-drying nylon, the Satisfy running jacket is exactly the kind of outer layer you need for spring showers and unpredictable summer weather. Comes with reflective 3m stitching to ensure you’re seen on nighttime jogs and is packable so there are no excuses for leaving it behind. Mother nature will never disrupt your running zen again man.
Running Essentials: Sports Bra
As summer approaches, we completely understand the desire to strip down to just the bare minimum of layers to help regulate your body temperature. But if you are thinking of doing so, it’s probably about time you upgraded your sports bra too. While your most threadbare sports bra has still got miles left in it, it probably doesn’t cut it when worn standalone. This is where NO KA OI comes in. The Italian produced luxury brand is looking to bridge the gap between ready-to-wear and activewear, meaning their sports bras are cut as well as haute couture but are just as easy to wear as streetwear. The Kindly sports bra has a ruffled trim that you’re more likely to find on the catwalk than on the running track so it will seriously elevate your summer running look.
Running Essentials: Running Shorts
More than just somewhere to keep your valuables, running shorts are engineered and cut to allow for unrestricted motion whilst still preserving your modesty. P.E. Nation is the Sydney-based brand that is reshaping the activewear industry with their ‘is it streetwear, is it sportswear’ style designs which were made just for the type of women who live in the sportswear. Their high-cut shorts are made from lightweight quick-drying fabrics for maximum ventilation making them the best ladies running shorts for summer with waterproof zippers to protect your smartphone should a sudden shower appear. Best of all, they look just as good when running errands as they do when you’re doing hill sprints.
Running Essentials: Running Sneakers
A properly fitting pair of running sneakers can be just what you need to trade plantar fasciitis for personal bests. Whilst you really need to get your running gait checked to get a shoe that matches your pronation, since you’re here and not on Runners World we know you don’t care about that, so for the perfect blend of fashion and function look no further than adidas Originals collaboration with Alexander Wang. We love Wang’s subversive take on adidas’s archival classics which include iterations of their classic track pants, inside-out t-shirts and a flip of their iconic trefoil logo. But it’s his sock sneaker that we love the most with its foot-hugging Primeknit sock upper and cushioned Boost sole combined with a deconstructed aesthetic through leather caging and heel lace stays.
Best Designer Cycling Brands
Road Cycling Essentials: Helmet
Though it’s tempting to be one of those hipsters riding around on a brakeless fixie, flat white in one hand, bike polo stick in the other, with just a fop of hair and a handlebar mustache for protection, there’s nothing cool about not wearing a helmet. If only a brand could make wearing by the same people behind cult Danish label Wood Wood. By combining their patterns and colorways from the art and fashion world with innovative technical fabrics they make cycling clothes that look as good as they perform. Their Falconer helmet comes in an on-trend eye-catching neon yellow and its aerodynamic shape will help you shave seconds off your most challenging Strava segments.
Road Cycling Essentials: Sunglasses
There’s no point cycling through the most picturesque roads in the country if you can barely see them through squinted eyes. Get a pair of cycling sunglasses, your eyes will thank you. Don’t settle for your trusty Ray-Bans either, a proper pair of cycling frames feature full wraparound polarised lenses for increased coverage and protection. No more weeping from wind sting and having to dislodge another insect from your eyeball, and it’ll keep the crow’s feet at bay too. Oakley are the brand at the forefront of performance eyewear, and best of all if you ever hang up your cycling shoes, they'll still be cool.
Road Cycling Essentials: Jersey
A cycling jersey is often the gateway drug into the world of high-end cycling apparel, and Rapha is the brand spearheading road cycling’s rebrand as one of the sexiest sports on the planet. Their mission is to make road cycling the most popular sport in the world, and when the clothing looks this good it’s easy to believe they’re going to achieve this goal too. There’s a tonne little design details hidden within their jerseys – they’re made from a stretch fabric that gives a close yet unrestricted fit that’s soft yet breathable, they feature reshaped shoulders to stop unsightly bunching, and there are three pockets at the back for carrying essentials – it’s these little things that make them some of the most easy-wearing yet still stylish cycling jerseys on the market.
Road Cycling Essentials: Bib Shorts
The number one problem when it comes to cycling is comfort. While the aching sit bones from getting back into the saddle soon dissipate, there always seems to be some sort of discomfort in that general area that can truly ruin an otherwise enjoyable day on your whip. Other than a helmet, a good pair of cycling shorts is the only other true cycling essential, featuring chamois and silicon padding at the crotch to absorb even the most intense of vibrations for pain-free riding. Why bibs you ask? Waistbands tend to slip down giving you builders bum which can be uncomfortable. Swedish company POC are all about protection, creating some of the best helmets and apparel in the world of impact sports. Who else would you trust with the most prized and delicate part of your body, think of them as Gucci for your gooch.
Road Cycling Essentials: Clip-On Shoes
If you’re getting serious about cycling, ditching your knackered Converse in favor of some proper clip-on cycling shoes can notch your performance up a gear. MAAP is an independent cycling brand based in Melbourne that engineer world-class apparel using hand-picked fabrics from the finest mills, and their Suplest Edge shoe looks badass with carbon fiber paneling and neon color pops. Swapping beaten up rubber for a stiff carbon fiber sole means you’ll transfer more power to your pedals, and trading shoelaces for a dual BOA closure results in more even pressure distribution over your feet for added comfort and a perfect fit. Just make sure you don’t forget to clip-out when waiting in traffic!