There’s much written about the kind of sportswear associated with sports few men play (polo, quail hunting, boating, etc), but little about the clothes we need for the kind of sports most of us engage in. Recently, however, it seems that everyone has picked up the new Gyakusou collection - that special collaboration project, now in its third year, between sportswear giant Nike and Japanese designer Jun Takahashi. Takahashi is famous for his cult fashion label Undercover, but he’s also an avid runner, regularly covering 10-15k distances in his hometown of Tokyo. The name of the collaboration is actually taken from his running group, the Gyakusou International Running Association. “Gyaku” means reverse or wrong way, and “sou” means run or running. Together, the word gyakusou is a reference to the group’s practice of running counter-clockwise around the parks of Tokyo, rather than the standard clockwise direction.
The line is essentially high-end fashion athletic apparel aimed at runners, and this season’s collection differs from those of the past in that it’s a bit more functional and simplistic in form. Gone are the extras zippers and pockets that have been previously used to distinguish the line as “designer,” and instead of color blocking, we see simple tonal colorways. What stays, however, are functional details. The collection’s best jacket, for example, has a small, unique chest pocket, just big enough for a set of keys so that they don’t jingle when you run. There’s also a zippered back that reveals some highly breathable mesh, so you can get more ventilation if necessary. In addition, the line continues to use Nike’s innovative technologies. The fabrics are lightweight and designed to wick sweat away from the skin, and certain panels are made with stretchier fabrics in order to allow greater ease of movement.
There’s a part of me that recognizes how ridiculous all this is. I wouldn’t consider myself a runner, but I do run about three or four miles a day, I appreciate the sport for its simplicity. All one needs is a pair of proper running shoes. The over-design of these clothes, on the other hand, remind me of Grant Petersen’s book Just Ride, which encourages bicyclists to get away from the ultra lightweight gear, flashy jerseys, and clunky shoes, and return to the simple joy of riding. Most people are not training for the Tour de France, after all, just as I imagine most people buying Gyakusou are not doing serious marathons.
At the same time, it’s difficult to find attractive running clothes, and to the extent we use clothing to look and feel good, is it so bad to like this line? After trying on a few pieces, I already want one of the jackets, and although the shoes are not practical for a pronator like me, I wouldn’t mind using a pair for short ~2 mile runs.
Gyakusou is limited and expensive, but available at a large number of stockists, which makes me think you’ll be able to find much of this on sale at some point. Keep an eye on End Clothing, Tres Bien, Nitty Gritty, Oki-Ni, and Mr. Porter to start. Just be careful of the sizing. In some jackets, I had to size up one; in others, I had to size up two. These are essentially designed for the Japanese market. On the upside, if you end up with a jacket that’s too small, at least you’ll have greater incentive to go running.
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- cooperfrederickson said: I like the ACRONYM stuff a lot too
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