Q & A With RunBK’s Matthew Rosetti
Recently RunBK sent us their new Spring 2018 Capsule to check out. I ran in the 5″ WillyB Short and Shadow Singlet while my friend Gavin ran in the 3.5″ WillyB split short and Shadow Singlet. Read our thoughts on the gear below the interview with Matthew.
1. What are your backgrounds in running and the running industry? I started running when I was nine years old, which (not coincidentally) was the same time my father was training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I went on to compete in high school, in university and thereafter across a wide range of distances from the mile to the marathon. Now I compete with the rigors of raising a child and perpetually cranky calves. Fine wine ages well. I’m not fine wine.
2. Why another running apparel brand and where does RunBK fit into the market? What is the mission behind RunBK? The running apparel market is a crowded competitive field with regard to aggregate number of brands. But our view is that most brands emphasize technical performance at the expense of style. RunBK is a moderately priced premium brand. We believe there is a niche opportunity for functional, stylish, comfortable running apparel that -in many cases- can serve double or even triple duty as fitness or casual attire. This creates an incredible value proposition for the consumer. We also believe there is a growing parallel with other industries that have seen a strong rise in boutique brands, such as the craft beer and spirits markets. The consumer, generally, has grown tired of mass-produced pieces with no story, no individuality. RunBK’s grassroots, bootstrapping story combined with legitimately high quality pieces and a cool urban running aesthetic is generating a lot of goodwill and appeal.
3. Where is the brand going in terms of product offerings? We will continue to keep it conservative and only offer capsule collections (4-5 pieces per season) in the near term, although we are getting a lot of pressure to expand our assortment of SKUs. As brand awareness continues to increase, we’ll grow our collection commensurately. The intent is to continue offering pieces “For Him & Her”. In other words, pieces that both a man and woman would feel comfortable wearing. We’re not big fans of the terms “gender neutral”, or “unisex” apparel. We prefer gender inclusive. Women are sick of the shrink and pink design play employed by brands for the past few decades.
4. How do you start the design process? What is the inspiration for your products? Our team’s roots are all in the running specialty retail business, and we operate three such stores at the moment, one of which is the Brooklyn Running Company. Located in Williamsburg, this shop is plugged in NYC’s vast and ever-evolving urban running scene, which serves as the backdrop for all of our inspirations. By remaining active in the sport and engaging with our consumers on a daily basis, we have the advantage of access to one of the best focus groups in the world.
5. Who in the running business influences you? There are some running brands telling compelling stories that resonate with certain runners for a number of reasons, but for the most part, we seek to influence and inspiration outside of running. We seek it in art, in fashion, in architecture, in urban planning and city development. Our brand’s logo is the iconic arches of the Brooklyn Bridge. Every town, every city has a bridge to cross. But it’s meant to be a metaphor for life: crossing the bridge. What’s your bridge to cross?
6. What would be one piece of advice that you would give to an entrepreneur that is interested in starting a business or a product? Don’t start a running apparel business. There isn’t room for any more brands. (wink wink) In seriousness, do your homework, speak with and learn from industry peers and those who have tried before you, particularly those who have failed (if they’re willing to talk!). Be very leery of confirmation bias, it’s the devil every entrepreneur should know. And be prepared to GRIND. That word has a negative association to it. It should not. Building a brand and a business is a grind. You should find joy and reward in the grind.
7. What is your favorite piece of running gear of all time? My dad’s Frank Shorter silver space suit running jacket and pants from the mid-80s.
Gavin: 1) first of all, both the singlet and the shorts perform remarkably well in the heat. Impressed that I went from running to bar-hopping, and back to running and the materials didn’t skip a beat.
2) the singlet is very soft to the touch: velvety. I wore it two days in a row and I didn’t even feel it on me except at the hip where it met my shorts. Also a plus: it keeps its form for the entire run. All my UA singlets tend to sag about the shoulders after a while.
3) the shorts: awesome, DEEP inside pockets. My BOA’s can fit my house key but not my car key. These fit everything. Again: velvety to the touch…didn’t even really feel the liner. Overall, probably the most comfortable shorts I’ve ever owned.
Thomas: The design is the first thing to catch my eye. I love the blue camo and the cut of the WillyB 5″ short. The outer edge of the short is a little shorter than the material in the crotch, this looks different than what you are used to when standing still but performs well when in motion. The boxer style liner is super soft and has three stealthy generous pockets built in. I ran a half marathon with a car key fob in one of the liner pockets and had to check the pocket at the finish to make sure the key fob was still there, I never felt it. During the half marathon, it rained the whole time. The shorts didn’t get weighed down and heavy. The materials hold up well in various weather conditions.
The Shadow singlet is extremely soft and comfortable. The softness of the material is a little bit of a compromise for sweat-wicking performance, but most of us won’t notice. Maybe Galen Rupp would, but it seems like he cuts holes in even the lightest materials.
Gavin: 3.5″, to me, felt almost like 5”. Sure, I’m usually running around in 1”, but I think it’s fair to note because there’s a whole market out there for people who want the freedom of shorter shorts. I love the shorts but they’ll probably serve as colder weather shorts because they feel heavy. Also: the drawstring is more basketball short-ish…just to make room for their logo and Cross the Bridge mantra?
Thomas: I agree with Gavin that the length of the short seems longer than the inseam suggests. Typically, I am more modest than Gavin, but I would probably go with the 3.5″ inseam over the 5″ inseam in the WillyB.
Gavin: I definitely feel the difference between a $65 shorts and the $40 BOAs that I mostly own. I know Tracksmith makes shorter shorts…I think BK has their fit and finish down if they want to compete at that level.
Thomas: The WillyB has the style and the functionality for your running needs. I run in the Tracksmith Van Cortland short a lot, but it only has one pocket. As my Fall marathon training ramps up, the additional pockets in the WillyB will come in handy.
WillyB Short Details
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