Words by Mr David Hellqvist
Just over 7,500ft above sea level, triathlete turned coach Mr Brandon Del Campo is out running in Colorado's Estes Park. Winter is around the corner and it's getting chilly, but with long-sleeved Dri-Fit tops layered under thin high-tech jackets and shorts sitting comfortably over Swift Long tights, enough heat is kept in while air is let out. He's been running up and down for about two hours so far and he's hardly breaking a sweat. It's the type of scene most runners can only dream of, yet in Mr Del Campo's world it's a daily reality.
Mr Del Campo is wearing pieces from the latest Nike x Undercover collaboration, a collection created chiefly by the Japanese designer and founder of cult fashion brand Undercover, Mr Jun Takahashi. For Mr Takahashi, himself a dedicated runner and amateur athlete, the morning run involves a more urban backdrop - Tokyo - where he is usually accompanied by co-members of GIRA (Gyakusou International Running Association). When launching Gyakusou as a high-performance running kit collaboration, it was Mr Takahashi's love of running and Nike's desire to push the sartorial boundaries beyond what Nike Running offered that led them to mix innovation and functionality with high-end design.
From day one Gyakusou had one purpose and one purpose only: to drill deep down into the art of running, producing high-tech exercise gear that works with - not against - a body in movement. And that looks really great, of course. Small but effective details - such as adding sweat fabric on the cuff of the arm so sweat can be easily wiped off, pockets for coins and keys, and detachable sleeves - make for a smoother run and a pleasant experience. Uncomfortable clothes can ruin your exercise through poor fit, non-breathable fabrics and chafing collars. Mr Takahashi has learnt the hard way to add underarm slits and laser-cut ventilation so that the body temperature can be adjusted, and clever drawstrings, elastic binding and thumbholes to make it all fit perfectly. These are the sartorial details that can make or break a run, something Mr Del Campo, who has competed in many competitions, knows only too well.