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A sporting chance: men's activewear brands to know

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Meet the men’s brands, both new and established, vying for space In the competitive activewear market. 

Iffley Road

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Iffley Road is a men’s sporting brand focusing on technical details and versatility. It was founded by husband and wife duo Claire Kent and Bill Byrne. Keen runners, they were frustrated by the lack of variety in running gear. In 2012, inspired by the London Olympic Games, they quit their jobs to start the brand, which they named after the Oxford race track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile in 1954.

The founders sought to create a brand with durable, timeless designs. Pieces have subtle retro twists, such as varsity stripes, on muted colour palettes and classic silhouettes such as polo shirts and hoodies. Products are created through small batch manufacturing in Europe, some of which is in the UK.

The brand currently has six UK stockists, including Matchesfashion, Mr Porter and Opumo.

Wholesale prices range from £7.50 for a water bottle to £100 for a reflective jacket.



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Describing itself as the “champion for the running class”, New England brand Tracksmith creates activewear with a preppy, varsity flavour. Its retro 1950s sporting aesthetic is reflected in split-side shorts and striped singlet vests, but the collection also features technical pieces such as compression shorts and tights.

The brand has gained popularity thanks to its premium, minimalist aesthetic, which contrasts to typical bold sporting styles. It is currently stocked by Mr Porter in the UK, and has 12 wholesale stockists worldwide.

Retail prices range from $48 (£38) for a top to $148 (£131) for a track jacket (wholesale prices vary). +1 781 235 0027


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Café du Cycliste

Founded in Nice, France in 2009, Café du Cycliste hopes to equip keen cyclists for both riding and day-to-day life. In addition to technical items such as bib shorts and wind jackets, the brand creates cycling jerseys and separates in eye-catching, trend-led prints. A red-and-blue ombré stands out, as do floral and willow pattern styles.

The brand has achieved impressive growth in recent years since the popularity of cycling has soared – particularly in the UK thanks to high-profile sporting successes. Named as one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies in the FT 1000, the business has recorded 397% sales growth in the past five years.

Sold in 80 markets, the brand has own stores in London, Mallorca and Nice, and is stocked by Mr Porter and Matchesfashion in the UK.

Wholesale prices range from €80 (£71) for a jersey to €200 (£178) for a premium, professional technical top.



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Dutch brand Protest creates activewear and athleisure styles inspired by the worlds of surfing and skiing.

Designs feature technical detailing – waterproof and breathable fabrics – but are inspired by urban streetwear styles. Vibrant neon ombré board shorts and eye-popping lilac sweaters are standouts from the spring 20 collection.

The brand’s combination of bold styling and functionality has gained it 75 UK stockists, among them Asos and Snow+Rock.

Wholesale prices range from £6.90 for socks to £25.60 for a sweatshirt. 0191 257 6214




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Founded by fitness influencer Pietro Boselli – who has 2.7 million Instagram followers – Petra is seeking to fuse high performance activewear with high fashion designs.

After a small initial launch direct to consumers in January 2018, the brand launched its second collection in May 2019, and will be working with wholesale partners from autumn 19. For spring 20 it is looking for its first UK stockist.

The collection is designed in London and manufactured in Italy. The guiding aesthetic is bold and hyper-modern, and block colours, form-fitting silhouettes and neon colour pop accents are central. The brand creates styles for both men and women. Within the menswear collection, key pieces include a zip hoodie and leggings with vibrant piping detail.

Wholesale prices range from €40 (£35) for a tank top to €110 (£98) for a jacket. +33 6 5013 0368



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Danish brand H2O creates relaxed activewear with a distinctly urban aesthetic, that is nevertheless geared to be practical for outdoor, adventurous activities. It began as a swimwear brand in 1982, but expanded over time to include products for sailing, windsurfing, diving and hiking.

It has more than 200 stockists across Denmark, Germany and Norway and is on the hunt for its first UK stockists for the new season. For spring 20, the collection has been inspired by summers in Bornholm, a Danish holiday island, and products cater to activities such as cycling, fishing and hiking.

Wholesale prices range from €6 (£5.40) for a T-shirt to €40 (£35.90) for a jacket. +45 5353 0005


Readers' comments (1)

  • It's always interesting to read about new and up-and-coming brands, but it would be great if (given the lower pressure on space in the online version) Drapers gave a stronger focus on UK brands and then maybe showed the off-shore brands separately.

    It is a global-sourced world now, no doubt about it, but as the home press, promoting home brands seems mutually beneficial, and, if this helps to cut down shipping from all four corners of the world, then maybe also supports a move towards more sustainability?

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