Decoding next‑gen Running Brands

Dive into the landscape of running brands and learn from our industry insights.

Black and white illustration of legs running

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Decoding next‑gen
Running Brands

Brand maps are a long-established tool for marketers to analyse competition. For our design maps, we took the concept and approached it from a design perspective. You can think of design maps as organized mood boards of markets.

For this running design map, we analysed more than 20 running brands. We focused on emerging brands, from the fashion-forward to the hyper-performance brands and the more playful ones in between. We scanned hundreds of websites, social media assets and products to identify patterns and connect the dots.

Like every single map in the world, it is wrong by definition. But also useful by reducing complexity, revealing patterns and helping the observer to navigate through crowded environments.

Take a look at how our favourite brands are shaping their visual identities and offering a new perspective on running. Followed by our predictions and identified gaps in the market.

We decoded and visualised the market for running brands

At the heart of this wide and diverse landscape is a fundamental question: What drives your run? Is it the immersive experience or the pursuit of a personal best? As we explore this matrix, we consider the interplay between these two fundamental motivations, alongside the style and aesthetics that brands emphasise.

Four axis graph sorting brands and identities into categories
A Color Bright ‘Running’ Brand Map (2024)

In recent years, a remarkable trend has emerged: Many brands have embraced eccentricity and blurred the lines into gorpcore-dominated streetwear. But in the ebb and flow of the fashion world, every major trend makes room for its opposite. Enter the counter-trend. A movement towards a down-to-earth, conscious and mindful running experience that rejects loud embellishments. It's all about the authenticity of running, without the unnecessary bling. Take a closer look at how each brand occupies its unique space in this matrix, shaping the visual narrative of running in today's landscape.

Four axis graph with brand imagery and photos sorted into categories
A Color Bright ‘Running’ Brand Map (2024)

5 distinct brand identities were identified by analysing the visual brand elements

Using the design map as a foundation, we identified five distinct identities for the running brands and conducted an in-depth analysis of how they strategically use branding to communicate their core values.

To delve deeper into the branding elements of each identity, download the deck.

1— Running Realkeepers

Committed to authenticity and a genuine running experience, Running Realkeepers look for brands that honour the heritage of running while embracing modern community values. They are particularly drawn to brands founded by elite athletes and appreciate the discipline that classic runners instil.

Capturing the essence of a morning run, Tracksmith’s campaign shows runners gracefully traversing a breathtaking landscape, blending nature and exercise.
Source: Tracksmith, Lookbook Fall’ 23 Part II

2— Fashion Pacers

Fashion Pacers aspire to make a bold statement with their running attire, seeking a sense of community rooted in shared stylistic preferences over mere athletic endeavours. Embracing both streetwear and technical fashion, they actively seek running apparel seamlessly integrated into their lifestyle.

Group portrait of runners
To position itself as a truly hip brand, Bandit uses fashion-inspired photography and taps into the desire for a sense of belonging to a particular clique.
Source: Hypebeast’s article about Bandit

3— Precision Performers

Precision Performers, avid seekers of sophistication, are drawn to innovative products with advanced performance features that emphasise comfort and a distraction-free running experience. Their attention to detail is reflected in their willingness to invest in premium quality items, appreciation of technical intricacies and understanding of the nuances of their chosen products—all in the pursuit of optimisation for the best results.

Person rubbing their hands with chalk
Satisfy highlights the advanced technology of its garments through compelling images taken in extreme conditions. While maintaining a strong focus on performance, Satisfy also appeals to the fashion-forward audience within the gorpcore trend.
Source: @satisfyrunning

4— Runners Next Door

For Next Door Runners, simplicity and comfort are essential in their quest for uncomplicated, motivational running apparel. Style is not a major consideration; instead, they prefer a casual and accessible aesthetic. They enjoy alternatives to mainstream brands and find satisfaction in supporting smaller, more accessible brands.

Model laughing into camera
RNNR adopts a light-hearted approach, and their photography perfectly conveys this ethos. Their aim is to make running fun by creating a friendly and accessible atmosphere.

5— Mindful Joggers

Mindful joggers value the holistic benefits of running, prioritise both physical health and mental wellbeing, and approach running with a joyful spirit. In tune with brands that prioritise well-being over performance, they seek a journey that aligns with their focus on doing good and feeling good.

Woman in running gear sitting in front of bright orange background
District Vision, a brand dedicated to mindful running, uses a harmonious blend of minimalist design and vibrant colours to create an immersive and serene experience that resonates with runners seeking mindfulness.
Source: District Vision, product page

Stuff that we expect to see more of in the next years

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In the ever-evolving landscape of running brands, we predict four notable trends that will reshape the industry.

  1. Niche-niche gadgets: the rise of niche gadgets, exemplified by brands such as Near Earth, will highlight the importance of product innovation beyond branding, offering unique and specialised running accessories.
  2. As diverse as runners: there is a growing demand for inclusivity, with calls for more diverse representations of runners that challenge traditional stereotypes.
  3. Celebrity-founded brands: the emergence of celebrity-founded brands, such as 4t2 and NNormal, is expected to gain momentum as runners’ authenticity lends credibility to these ventures.
  4. Beyond personal best: there is a shift beyond the relentless pursuit of personal bests, with brands such as Unna and District Vision leading the way in celebrating the joyful and mindful aspects of running, signalling a move away from the traditional performance-driven approach.

Taken together, these trends point to a prosperous and inclusive future for the running industry.

Brand Index

Brand nameFounding yearHeadquarters
District Vision2014United States
Tracksmith2014United States
Ciele Athletics2015Canada
Soar2015United Kingdom
Circle Sportswear2019France
Miler Running2019United States
rnnr2019United States
Bandit2020United States
Hylo Athletics2020United Kingdom
Near earth2021Germany
Over Over2021United Kingdom
Optimistic Runners2023Germany

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