Go the Distance
This Small Brand Is Making the Most Important Clothing in Running
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From Issue Seven of Gear Patrol Magazine.
Nike and Adidas may have long set the trends for stylish running gear, but a small brand based in Paris is trying to change that. It’s called Satisfy, and in many ways, it’s an anti-running running brand. Founded in 2015 by Brice Partouche, Satisfy isn’t so much interested in fitting into the current running world as it is in totally pushing the boundaries with fabric, color and overall design.
Partouche came to running later in life. “I started running after decades of skateboarding,” he says. “My girlfriend at the time was into running, and I’ve always been a vegetarian, a vegan — I’m a very healthy person.” Partouche fell in love with the meditative aspect of the sport and quickly began logging 125 miles per month. “Everyone has a personal reason for running, it could be wellness or getting fit, or in my case, it was stepping out of my comfort zone.”
Stylistically, Partouche’s tastes didn’t really fit what most would consider typical for a runner. In fact, he found himself struggling to find gear he felt was cool. “It’s funny that even with rebellious roots, running has never really embodied a strong rebel subculture the way skateboarding has,” he says. Partouche pulled that thread, prototyping designs for a year before finding factories to produce them. His choice of colors — black, white, blue and some hints of tonal tie-dye — express Partouche’s desire to “alter the perception of runners to the rest of society,” he says.
In keeping with the rebellious qualities of Satisfy, Partouche looks beyond the fitness world for materials, using the same suppliers as many luxury fashion houses. He also works with manufacturers like Schoeller, an innovator in materials manufacturing. It’s details like these that set Satisfy apart and have helped fuel its organic, cultlike following.
One look at Satisfy’s Instagram profile provides a glimpse into the brand’s strategy as a whole, and you’ll notice a completely different approach when you compare it to the likes of Nike and Adidas, who choose to focus on new-gear releases rather than the culture behind their brands. Satisfy’s feed is monochromatic and free of inspirational quotes. “My way of thinking is very much about the lifestyle and not about the product,” Partouche says. “I didn’t do it on purpose, it’s just my way of thinking and building a brand.”
Instagram has allowed Satisfy to engage with the running community in an organic way. Partouche found the star of Satisfy’s latest campaign, Jamil Coury, through the app. This type of grassroots engagement has been crucial to the brand’s early successes. “I saw friends wearing or talking about it, and it piqued my interest,” says Sam Anderson, the former beverage director of Mission Chinese Food, a popular restaurant with locations in San Francisco and New York’s Lower East Side. “From there, Brice and I connected through Instagram and it became evident that we share a similar aesthetic as it crosses over into the world of running and apparel.”
But for both Coury and Anderson, Satisfy is about more than just looking good. “They are willing to put out some meaningful pieces of clothing that convey a message and identity,” Coury says. “Brice comes from a unique fashion background. It is something unique in the running world that isn’t just designed around performance, although that is a big factor in his pieces as well.” For Anderson, the race-day feel of Satisfy running apparel “transmits energy. It has a lightness, a movement with the body. Often, you forget it’s there,” he says.
While its pieces have incredible technical elements — durability, virtual weightlessness and impossible softness over many miles — Satisfy, ultimately, isn’t out to find its place in traditional running circles. It’s looking to appeal to runners like Partouche on the fringe of mainstream running culture. “We are a cult brand,” Partouche says, “so it is important that we have a presence in the places where our community lives, works and runs. The end goal is really to change the perception of running on a global level, through inspiring more creative people to chase the high.”