This week, we're launching a new segment called Industry Insider, where we'll feature noteworthy people in the fashion industry -- from brand founders to bloggers to photographers. You will get a glimpse of what it's like to be on every side of the table. Today, we're sitting down with Matt Taylor, the founder of Tracksmith.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember. I had early success in the sport and then gravitated towards running in high school. But it wasn't until college that I really fell in love with racing. I ran cross country and track at Yale and really learned to relish the the challenges and rewards of competition. After graduating, I started my career in sports at IMG and from there focused on marketing in the running industry. As Global Head of Marketing for running and fitness at PUMA, I worked with world-class runners but started getting frustrated with the way the industry was marginalizing elite achievement in favor of watered-down fitness messaging and homogenous product. That’s what really inspired me to start Tracksmith. I wanted to celebrate the sport I love and reinvigorate its racing culture.
Tell us about Tracksmith
Tracksmith crafts premium performance running apparel, inspiring publications and distinct experiences so that runners can indulge in the sport’s rich culture. Everything we create is intended to inspire and satisfy the committed runner. Headquartered at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon, we were founded on the belief that the richest rewards in running are only found through racing.
What options did running enthusiasts have in terms of apparel prior to Tracksmith?
As a whole, the product offering in the running category has become very homogeneous. Remove the logos and everything looks and feels similar. Every brand is basically producing the same apparel, with the same materials, in the same colors. We felt like there needed to be a brand that truly celebrated all of the unique elements of running, including its history and race culture.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Tracksmith’s offices are located at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon, right in Wellesley. So a typical day starts with an early run and then I’ll walk my daughter to school on my way to the office. I brew a big pot of coffee for our team and then dig in on the biggest priority for the day. Then it’s usually design meetings or planning meetings for upcoming events, like our Boston Marathon Runner’s Lounge and Showroom. Our team is filled with runners and other competitive athletes, so we’ll often do meetings on the run or on Workout Wednesday, we’ll hit the track for intervals. I always (well, almost always) get home for dinner with my family and then get the kids to bed. After that, I sit at my home office and get through emails and other small tasks.
Most brand publications are peppered with branded content, why did you choose to do the opposite with METER?
With everything we do, our goal is to celebrate and steward running culture. And we saw there was a void when it came to in-depth storytelling. That’s why we started METER - not to promote Tracksmith -- but rather to create the kind of content that we, as runners, wanted to read and to surface stories that aren’t being told in the mainstream press.
What’s your favorite Tracksmith item?
Every product we make is really rooted in the love we have for the sport, its distinct culture and the specific needs of runners. So choosing a favorite item is hard because I’m so connected to the inspiration and story behind the product. I do really love our Bislett pants, however, because they represent exactly what Tracksmith is all about. Back in the 1980’s a now-defunct Wellesley company, Bislett Sports International, made 200 sets of the original Bislett pants. We redesigned them for the modern runner, taking the best qualities of the originals (their durability and fit) and adding performance details like our four-way stretch fabric and perfectly positioned pockets for the long run. They’re hands down the best running pants on the market.
You closed a $4.1M Series A a few months ago, where will that money take you?
Our main focus is to keep building the brand the right way, focused on delivering culture and style for the competitive runner. That means continuing to build the foundation of the brand by making great products, telling culturally relevant stories and engaging the running community through unique events. The ultimate goal is to transform the way running is presented and perceived.
Tracksmith Race League – will you be setting up your own races or will this be a collection of curated races?
A little of both, the goal is to inspire great performances and foster connections within the community.
Which is your favorite marathon? Why?
It has to be the Boston Marathon. Our offices are right at the halfway point, so every month our team runs the “Half on the Half” either from the finish line of the marathon back to the office or vice versa. From the history of the race, to the way the entire city and surrounding towns shut down in order to welcome and cheer on the runners, to the fact that runners have to test their limits in order to qualify - it’s the embodiment of what makes this sport and city so great.
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