FOR SOME TIME now, dressing for a workout has meant confronting a sartorial dilemma: You either head out in dowdy sweats a la Rocky Balboa, or you parade around in garishly logo’d workout gear like some human Nascar speedster. The latter could easily tempt an athlete eager to maintain a seven-figure sponsorship deal. But the average Joe who just wants to burn some calories might welcome a more aesthetically restrained option—especially if it features the latest in fabric technology and has a higher style quotient than Rocky’s sweatpants. Fortunately, a few upstart brands are providing just that.
“When I moved to New York, wearing a big Swoosh or Under Armour’s [slogan] ‘Protect This House’ was not speaking to me,” said Gregg Cohenca. And given the minimalism of most Manhattanites, he wagered that other guys were equally turned off. So Mr. Cohenca founded Jacques, a new performance-wear brand that prioritizes sharp, low-key style; it features no outward-facing logos and a muted color palette inspired by natural materials. It’s an antidote to the garishness of most workout clothes, with their neon colors and logos visible from Mars.
Other players in this market find maximalism downright ugly. “You feel like you’re lit up like a Christmas tree when you are out running,” said Tim Soar, founder of London-based brand Soar Running, which makes monochromatic windbreakers and tops. And it’s not much of a leap to think that feeling comfortable with your look could boost your confidence at the gym.
Of course, non-repellent style is only one part of the equation—men also want activewear with moisture wicking, four-way stretch and odor control, three things Jacques’s performance fabrics offer, said Mr. Cohenca. For his part, Mr. Soar sources laminated fabrics from Japan, woven fabrics from Italy and technical fabrics from Switzerland. Gabriella Kelly, head of marketing for Satisfy, another scrupulously subdued running-apparel brand, points to its Justice fabric, a lightweight and breathable material inspired by medical bandaging that it says is 35% lighter than industry-standard sports fabrics and dries twice as fast.
One final benefit: Stripped of the noisy, blatant graphics, these minimalist clothes can be worn away from the gym. We might try strolling into a Sunday brunch in them. But don’t get carried away. Unless your office has Excessively Casual Fridays, steer clear of work.
SWEAT-SHOPPING // Low-Key Workout Apparel That Won’t Distract From Your Stride
- UNDERSTATED PULLOVER And Wander Top, $240, mrporter.com
- QUIET DUO Top, $95, and Shorts, $135, jacquesnyc.com
- JUST ENOUGH ZIP Jacket, $225, soarrunning.com
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