Testing Tracksmith in Its Element
Taking the lifestyle running brand for a Sunday run in Brooklyn
For regular readers of The Field and other publications of its ilk, we'll explain Tracksmith as succinctly as possible. It's a Boston-based lifestyle running brand co-founded by Matt Taylor and Luke Scheybeler, a co-founder and former creative director of Rapha who played an instrumental role in developing the elite cycling brand's signature aesthetic. Though no longer with either brand, Scheybeler's influince remains evident, while Taylor continues to push the brand forward as CEO. Given that primer, it's not hard to grasp what Tracksmith is about. They too make high-quality, high-performance running apparel for men and women that won't make you look like Dri-Fit terminator.
First things first: Tracksmith is about racing. As a distinct counterpoint to all-encompassing West Coast fitness brands like The Swoosh, Tracksmith stands proudly behind its New England roots and draws direct inspiration from Ivy League competitive running and classic American menswear. Their autumn lookbook falls just a few mustaches short of a 1970's Harvard track meet—heavy on short-shorts and singlets. The twist is that Tracksmith takes these classic silhouettes and applies a restrained amount of technology to improve fit and functionality. The result? A range of functional running apparel with a minimal and non-technical aesthetic. It's eminently wearable and feels like it's going to last forever.
Rapha has done well to turn cycling into a "lifestyle" without sacrificing performance (though at price markup for sure). One can only wonder if running is next up to take the lifestyle concept plunge. With this in mind, on a recent nippy November morning we put a few key pieces from the Tracksmith fall line through 20 laps in the heart of Brooklyn, followed by coffee, of course.
Your first line of defense against the elements. The Nor’Easter Jacket($298) is a nylon soft-shell made of 4-way stretch, wind and water resistant Schoeller fabric (the good stuff). It has a perfect cut, with runner specific details like a high collar and inner cuffs to eliminate cold drafts. I found myself wearing it frequently off the track too, where it got compliments at SoHo boutiques and blended in while enjoying a different type of "cold draft" at my local watering hole.
Tracksmith tends to steer clear of new, unproven synthetic technology in favor of old standbys like merino wool, as evidenced by this quarter-zip. The Downeaster($138) pullover is dead simple and high-quality in its material and flexibility. Zipped up, down, dry or damp, it fits and performs. Not much else to say, and that's a good thing.
HARRIER LONG SLEEVE
The Harrier Long Sleeve($78) is the garment that we feel best encapsulate's the Tracksmith ethos. The merino-nylon blend makes it comfortable and impervious to odor. Tracksmith claims that it will never stink, even if you refuse to wash it. I'm tempted to put that claim to the test, but would rather not because like the Nor'easter jacket, the Harrier excels off track as well. And we can’t have your boy stinking up the coffee shop.
Recreated in the image of a specific 1980's track pant, the Bislett Pants($148) are a bit odd. They're made of a thicker stretch fabric that's warm, and like everything else, moisture resistant, which is great. But Tracksmith stayed so true to the originals they even retained such details as stirrups and what seemed to be a high-waisted 80's fit. Size up.