Saturday, May 19, 2007

Running in Style

I recently ran in my fourth half-marathon through the scenic wine country north of Santa Barbara, California (think “Sideways”). The soft rolling hills took my breath away (Ok, some shortness of breath was on account of the steep inclines!) but it was snazzy running shoes and colorful skorts donned by fellow runners that caught my eye. Yes, I admit, even while engaging in the sport of running, I steal quick glimpses of runners from head to toe. This is not always a pleasing experience (i.e., the robust male and female in spandex shorts); however, on occasion I’m impressed by the latest high-tech sneakers paired with loose fit running shorts and a cute motif tee. Now, I’m not advocating for spending hours planning your outfit to wear running around the track but sportswear designers are making it more fun to dress the part. Walk into any running store and you are forced to pass racks of apparel before you reach the shoes. Nike, Adidas, Asics, Reebok, and Champion all offer coordinated pieces in bright hues and standard black, white and grey. Look for lightweight material such as Lycra, cotton blends and mesh stretch panels, in the case of shorts, for breathable and quick-dry wear.

Of course, not everyone is a runner, but sportswear is fast becoming synonymous with healthy lifestyles – or at least looking like it. Scarlett Johansson is a perfect example. The 22-year-old actress claims she never exercises yet she teamed up with Reebok to create a line of funky sneakers, leggings, and hooded tunics called “Scarlett Hearts RBK.” Stella McCartney and Diane von Furstenberg, real fashion designers, have designed a line of “lifestyle” shoes for adidas and tennis dresses for Reebok, respectively. The spring 2007 runways featured sports-inspired collections from the likes of Marni, Cynthia Rowley, MaxMara and Jean Paul Gaultier in tunics, leggings, and anoraks.

There is no doubt that sportswear is comfortable, but if there is one rule I can impart, sweatpants, sweatbands, spandex shorts (rather spandex anything!) should only be worn while exercising! Hit the streets in a pair of dark jeans (Levi’s Eco Jeans) with a long tee (American Apparel) under a zip-up hoodie (Scarlett Hearts RBK or Urban Outfitters) and Tom’s canvas shoes. If there is one sport conducive to designer sportswear it is walking. So take a leisurely stroll to your favorite park in style!

The majority of brands listed below participate in environmental and worker’s rights efforts.

Sportswear for Exercising
adidas -
Asics –
Hincapie Sportswear -
Nike -
Reebok footwear -
Run and Become –
Umbro –

Sportswear for Lifestyle
Emporio Armani for Product (RED) -
Gaiam -
Lucy -
Patagonia –
Scarlett Hearts RBK -
Tom’s Shoes -

To learn more about the sportswear industry and fair labor practices, check out the following organizations:

The Life of Football Factory Workers in Thailand. Report by Clean Clothes Campaign,

Fair Labor Association.

Sportswear Brands ‘Offside’ on Workers’ Rights. Report by Oxfam International,

Play Fair at the Olympics.

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