Elite runner Kate Martini wants to bring an edgier aesthetic to the straight-laced world of running apparel
Kate Martini was tired of looking like a goody two-shoes. As an intensely dedicated marathoner ("obsessed" is how she describes herself), Martini dons running clothes six days per week and notches race times fast enough to qualify her as pro. Last month, the 35-year-old recreational runner started the Los Angeles Marathon with the elite corral, despite being six months pregnant. Yeah, she's a badass. Yet all the running apparel she tried—for women and men—looked prim and pristine and tech'ed out.
When she looked at running gear emblazoned with slogans like "Run Happy" (a Brooks motto), she thought, "Yeah, that's great, but there are more layers to it." She didn’t end up running sub-three-hour marathons by keeping a serene smile on her face. She had to dig deep into a well of suffering and determination. She wanted a kit that conveyed that grit.
So she partnered with two other run-obsessed friends, Derick Gallegos and Nicole Sedmak, to launch Los Angeles-based Aevok. None of them had any background in fashion or apparel, but the southern California city is home to a thriving textile scene and they soon connected with the suppliers and manufacturers they needed. Their specifications? Running shirts for men and women that fit well, looked edgy, didn't chafe, and felt comfortable.
The Aevok tops that hit market last November are all designed, sourced, and made in L.A. They look more like rock concert memorabilia than performance T-shirts. One tee depicts a skull emblazoned with “Run Obsessed” ($68). There’s a tank top with a graphic illustration of a roaring lion ($65). The "BAMF" acronym stamped across one women’s tank ($65) stands for "Bad Ass Mother Fucker."
"People feel motivated by it," says Martini. “Buyers tell us that wearing our shirts keeps them from slacking off during their workouts, which is great to hear."
The shirts have solid technical specs, too. The bottom hem curves up at the sides, preventing the shirt from riding up, and the tanks feature extra-deep armholes to reduce chafing. The quick-dry fabric—a mix of polyester and cotton—has the soft feel that Martini sought. Plus, she used a novel spinning technique, called Siro, that creates an unusually plush yarn that also wicks well and quashes odor.
"A picture can't tell you how a fabric feels," Martini says. "You need to see and feel it to understand."