The Most Technical Outdoor Brand You’ve Never Heard Of
Australian gearmaker 2XU is beloved by everyone from new moms to Olympic athletes. Now they are looking to create a fitter, healthier world.
In 2013 professional triathlete Gwen Jorgensen was training in Australia when she felt pain in the back of her leg. Did I just pull my hamstring? Jorgensen, one of those otherworldly athletes who rarely get injured, started to panic. Her teammate, triathlete Aaron Royle, stepped in to help—recommending she wear compression tights and loaning her a pair to wear overnight. When Jorgensen woke up, her leg was much better; it was as if nothing had happened.
“It magically went away,” says Jorgensen. “Obviously I hadn’t torn anything, but I was like, whoa, compression actually works.” That was her first experience with the Australian brand 2XU (two times you) and how much better her performance could be after integrating compression into her training. 2XU firmly believes we can all use a little support when it comes to training—be it a friend or compression garments. Jorgensen’s experience demonstrated the value of both. Eight years after she was introduced to its products, Jorgensen signed with the company.
Perhaps you’ve had a similar aha moment with compression technology or are already a fan of 2XU. If not, that’s about to change. Long a cult favorite in Australia and the triathlon world due to the quality and performance of its proprietary fabrics, the brand has recently reinvented itself—diversifying its range of apparel beyond just compression garments—because triathletes aren’t the only ones who perform better with the use of compression garments.
2XU was born in 2005 in Melbourne, the brainchild of former professional triathlete Jamie Hunt. It was an outlet where he could direct his passion for sport into an obsession with performance fabrics. The brand has deep roots in triathlon and running, and its ethos centers on the indefatigable pursuit of multiplying human performance: to be 2XU, or two times you. But the brand’s identity has grown from focusing on the evolution of self to the bigger picture—personal growth makes us better, but when we do things together, we are unstoppable.
“In the last five or six years we never really stood for anything, so we took a step back and said, OK, what’s our role within society? What do we want people to actually do?” says Luke O’Shea, chief marketing officer at 2XU. “We want people to exercise more. We want people to take care of their health. Better individual health creates a fitter, healthier world.” Whether someone is signing up for their first run or enjoying a daily ride with the family, O’Shea believes the positive energy of community activities has a ripple effect.
Decades of independent research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the Australian Institute of Sport have gone into 2XU’s proprietary compression fabrics designed to impact preparation, performance, and recovery. Seemingly lofty claims, like the assertion that compression products aid recovery and reduce soreness, are backed up by data and anecdotal evidence from everyone from elite athletes to new moms who incorporate 2XU into their daily (and overnight) lives.
Two-time Olympian, four-time Ironman champion, and 2XU athlete Brent McMahon likes his 2XU tights so much he’s been wearing the same pair for almost 20 years. “It’s not like just putting on an extra-small pair of tights if you’re a size small,” says McMahon. “The fabric doesn’t just stretch, it moves left to right, up and down, and on the other axis, so a tight has at least seven or eight different panels that hold your calf under a different tension than your quads, because your quads are a bigger muscle and shaped differently.”
Heidi See, an Australian runner based in San Diego who has Olympic ambition in the 5,000 meters, said: “They’re super helpful for me with recovery. I’ve had so many injuries in my calves over the years, it just makes me feel like I have an extra layer of security.”
While professional-grade technical items like McMahon and See’s beloved tights remain at the core of the 2XU’s offerings, the company also applies its expertise to a carefully curated set of products that includes sports bras and running jackets as well fleece joggers and puffies. The goal is to make high-performance apparel that looks good, feels fast, and, most importantly, makes your next run, ride, commute, or post-workout hang more fun and comfortable. “It’s all about inspiration,” says O’Shea. “We want to make a difference in a person’s life.”
Jorgensen attested to how much better 2XU compression garments made her day-to-day when she was pregnant with her son. “I used 2XU all through my pregnancy,” she said. “They have really good prenatal and postnatal support within their tights.”
See, who signed with 2XU in April 2021, was immediately attracted to working with the brand. “As an athlete, you’re sometimes so caught up with feeling like your worth is totally based on your performance on the track,” she says. She was relieved to hear that her value to the brand was not just in her race results, but rather in the connections she could form within her own community. The most important thing, according to O’Shea, is meeting people where they are and helping them reach their own individual finish line, no matter what it looks like. “When it comes down to it, we want people to live a healthier life,” says O’Shea, “to feel alive. That’s all it is.”
Founded in Melbourne in 2005, 2XU is on a mission to create a fitter, healthier world. That’s our why – why we show up hungry each day, and why we continue to engineer the world’s finest sports performance gear for athletes of all abilities to prepare, perform & recover in.