Tracksmith hit the road in 2014, and since then the brand has created its own world of classic running apparel. It's also spun a heartfelt cultural ambiance around its gear. In both products and projects, Tracksmith evokes the rich history of track and road racing—meanwhile investing in the sport’s future by supporting grassroots athletes. Wildsam talked with Tracksmith founder Matt Taylor about the company’s commitment to running and its New England roots.
WILDSAM: If you meet someone who’s never heard of Tracksmith, how do you explain the brand?
MATT TAYLOR: The easy answer is we're a running apparel brand based in Boston. The longer answer revolves much more around the lifestyle and culture of running.
That is a notable quality of Tracksmith—the brand does a lot to show running as a sport with a distinct culture and tradition. Your shop in Boston looks and feels like a classic sporting club, and the brand runs a host of programs to build the sport. How did that big story take shape?
There's a style component for sure. We are classic and timeless in our style. On that front, when I was starting the brand, I was looking at all the clothes in my wardrobe, then looking at my drawers and racks of running clothes. They didn't link in any way. Colors and materials, detailing, trims, logos—the running gear was way different than how I dressed to go about the rest of my life.
It's very much driven by New England sensibilities: that understated approach to things. There's also the cultural component. Running is a sport that has been around for a very long time. A lot of the brands in this space have gotten much bigger over the years. As they've grown, they have become much more health- and wellness-focused. That deep dive into the culture of the sport gets left behind, and as a consumer, I was yearning for that.
When I was a kid, you could pick up the Sports Illustrated and read about a track meet, and you just can't anymore.
Does being in Boston, home of America’s greatest marathon, help you tap into that cultural story?
It's a great confluence of things in Boston. Put the Boston Marathon at the epicenter. Outside of the Olympic Marathon in 1896, it’s the second oldest foot race in the world. It's just got this history and this legacy. That has created an ecosystem of clubs and other races, and you also have an incredible collegiate system throughout New England—everything from your Ivy Leagues to your little Seven Sisters, to your D-3 schools.
Unlike other cities, you can meet an adult who grew up in Boston who has never run a step, but they can probably tell you about some moment in the Boston Marathon that they remember.
The social dimension of Tracksmith stands out. You’ve created many ways for runners to come together around the sport. And somehow, the way you’ve done it feels very New England. Does that ring true?
New England's famous for local government, for historic town centers. That sense of community is very prevalent here.
Running’s an individual sport. And yet there’s this amazing camaraderie that comes out of the shared experience of pushing yourself as hard or as fast as you can go. If you and I both run the Boston Marathon, that's a shared experience that we can talk about. It immediately bonds us together and we can have a conversation about it, regardless of any other affiliations or interests or whatever that we might have.
And, of course, there’s the fact that when you go for a run in Boston—it’s amazing. So many people are running. You see the blue and gold of the Boston Athletic Association everywhere.
You put a pin anywhere in New England, and you're within a two- or three-hour drive of coasts and mountains and lakes.
The Charles River is just such a iconic place to go for a run. You can run three miles, or you can run 15 or 18 miles. You can get all the way out to Watertown and Cambridge. You go by Harvard and MIT along the river. But what's even better about New England, is the ability to go to amazing places to run within a short drive—whether that's out to the Cape, out to The Berkshires or up to the White Mountains and New Hampshire and Vermont.
If you're really ambitious, getting out to Acadia—Maine has some of the most beautiful running in the world. There's great places to run. I love four seasons, I love multiple terrains and geographies. You can be on a sandy beach on Cape Cod or up in the mountains in Vermont or New Hampshire.