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, told her she should wear compression tights and gave her a pair to wear overnight. When she woke up, 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 last month, eight years after she was introduced to its products, she 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 is currently in the midst of completely reinventing itself—and diversifying its range of apparel beyond just compression garments—ahead of a U.S. launch.
“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, who started as the chief marketing officer a little less than two years ago. “We want people to exercise more. We want people to take care of their health.”
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. Decades of independent research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the Australian Institute of Sport have gone into 2XU’s proprietary fabrics. 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 new moms to elite athletes who incorporate 2XU into their daily (and overnight) lives.
Jorgensen attested to the benefits of compression that she experienced firsthand 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.”
Heidi See, an Australian runner based in San Diego who is trying to qualify for the Olympics 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.”
2XU athlete, two-time Olympian, and four-time Ironman champion 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.”
While professional-grade technical items like McMahon’s beloved tights will remain at the core of the 2XU’s offerings, the company is now applying 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 important, 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.”
See, who signed with 2XU in April, 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.