Iffley Road was launched by married couple Bill and Claire, with a mission to celebrate the amateur athletics feats of athletes like Sir Roger Bannister. The subtle colour pallet and simple silhouette of the kit speaks of a simpler time when technology took a back seat to the purity of running for it’s own sake.
The brand aims to appeal to runners who are more interested in the journey than the end point – as the brand says ‘for people who run to escape, to search, to think.’ Here we find out more from the founders.
LtW: Where is the brand based?
Iffley Road: Richmond, Surrey in the UK
LtW: Can you give us a short history of the brand.
IR: We founded Iffley Road in May 2013. We took our name from the Oxford running track where Roger Bannister ran the first mile in under 4 minutes. We both quit our day jobs. Bill previously worked at British Airways and Claire worked at Morgan Stanley. Initially it was just ourselves, our designer and our specialist factory in Portugal.
LtW: What is your personal relationship with running now and how has running played a part in your life, going all the way back to your childhood?
IR: We met through running in our twenties. Caroline, who was a member of Serpentine and British Airways Running Club, set us up on a blind date after Bill revealed that he liked sporty red heads! Running has always been a constant in our lives (surviving and even enhanced by the arrival of three children and a cocker spaniel).
LtW: What were the key motives for you creating a running brand?
IR: We genuinely felt there was no running gear on the market that we wanted to wear. We both like minimalist, classic clothing in muted colours.
LtW: What have been the biggest challenges for you building your brand?
IR: The biggest hurdle has been getting the name out there in a cost effective way. Iffley Road is a self-funded business without a massive marketing budget.
LtW: What do you consider to have been your biggest successes?
IR: We think our biggest success has been customers’ satisfaction and loyalty (as demonstrated by our Feefo ratings for service and product). Also, when you go out running and see someone wearing Iffley Road, it gives you a real buzz.
LtW: Whether inside or outside of running, who do you admire and why?
IR: Rapha for taking cycle wear to a different level; Orlebar Brown for rethinking swim shorts; Paul Smith for its quirky Britishness; Prada for its style.
LtW: What do you hope that people will think, when they consider your brand?
IR: We hope people realise that if you buy Iffley Road you’re buying kit that is very well made and will last for years. We’re aim to be the antithesis of fast fashion.
LtW: If your brand was a runner, what type of personality would they have
IR: We’d be a runner who would run for the journey not the finish line. He’d run on the trails without a watch. In this sense running is a metaphor for life.
LtW: What is different about your brand from other running brands?
IR: Our classic style, our choice of fabrics and our colour palette. For most running brands performance is the end goal, whereas we believe running is about the journey.
LtW: What plans do you have coming up for your brand?
IR: We’re excited about some super light fabrics we’ve found for warm weather kit.
LtW: Is there anything else we should know about Iffley Road?
IR: Claire: Bill ran the marathon section of an Ironman with me, after he was disqualified (for missing the bike cut-off). The best thing he’s ever done for me!