Ciele is a brand that started at the top by designing and manufacturing running headwear – caps specifically. The brand says that they are pacing themselves. But whatever the case may be, the caps coming out of their headquarters in Montreal, Canada have really flipped the running world on its head [Sorry – couldn’t resist, ed]
Since its founding in 2014, Ciele has taken the humble running cap to new heights as well as expanding the range with beanies, visors, bucket hats and – most recently – t-shirts. Here we learn about the history of the brand as well as the future direction from Jeremy Bresnan, one half of the founding team. As the world famous (no, just us then) 1952 Hat Council advertisement said: ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat.’
LtW: Where is the brand based?
Ciele: Montreal, Canada
LtW: Can you give us a short history of the brand.
Ciele: Mike Giles and myself started Ciele Athletics in 2014. We were looking for a project to work on together and our background in design and my background in technical sports apparel and branding, as well love affair with run commuting, led to the idea that we should focus on making products we would want to run in. Performance based products that we’d want to wear whether we were running or not. We settled on the cap as the original product because we love caps in general, but we saw that it was mostly seen as an afterthought or a promo item. We knew we could do better.
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?
Ciele: Running was something I did as a child at school. I enjoyed it, but it was just a part of an overall active life of being outside in every possible way. In my early 20’s I started run-commuting from design school home. When school ended, so did my running. The reason was A to B and even as I enjoyed that challenge, time and life got in the way and I stopped. Although I ran on and off through my 30’s it wasn’t until 2011 that my health forced me to find something regular to get back to a better place. Running to work became the answer and to an extent still is.
LtW: What were the key motives for you creating a running brand?
Ciele: Mike and I both love brand building. As we looked at what was out there, it crossed my mind that I had a hard time finding products that I liked or even a brand that I related to within the run space. Nobody was really speaking to us. We figured we weren’t the only ones.
LtW: What have been the biggest challenges for you building your brand?
Ciele: Convincing retailers to take on an unknown upstart run brand that started at the top as opposed to the bottom. Running product culture is rooted in footwear (for obvious reasons). Caps, again, were an afterthought. Taking caps seriously, presenting them well, explaining our touch points, took a lot of convincing.
LtW: What do you consider to have been your biggest successes?
Ciele: Our products are worn by every kind of runner at so many levels. People who love running have picked up our products and put them to the test on 7 continents on every kind of run possible; from their first runs, their daily city run, to their marathon run, to their mountain run. And they come back for more. Proving we’re doing something right.
LtW: Whether inside or outside of running, who do you admire and why?
Ciele: It’s brands and designers so a mix.
Tracksmith, Satisfy, Janji because we need more run brands with different personalities and points of view.
Nike for being huge and still innovating. Salomon for being the mad scientist from the mountains. Patagonia for showing us we don’t just have to be clothing brand we can also stand for something. Arcteryx for being meticulous engineers.
And then, watch and study and learn and be inspired;
Stussy, Rapha, Alyasha Owerka-Moore, Reigning Champ, Atelier New Regime, Veja, Pigalle, Obra, Dime MTL, Aitor Throup, Monocle, Myles O’Meally, Girl and Chocolate Skateboards, Bon Vivant, Fear of God, Kim Jones, Cote et Ciel, Margaret Howell, Vans, Black Crows, Visvim, Goodee, Saturdays, Olmsted Outerwear, Illy, Comme des Garcons, Muji, Joey Roth, La Fille D’O, Supreme, Agnes B, Colin Meredith, Vivianne Westwood, James Brand, Raf Simons, Gentemstick, Adidas, Fucking Awesome, Aimé Leon Dore, Polar Skateboards, Yohji Yamamoto, Coca-Cola.
LtW: What do you hope that people will think, when they consider your brand?
Ciele: From a product standpoint – considered equipment designed for performance and protection for everybody who runs. That’s what matters to us. That’s what drives us in terms of design. We don’t always hit all the marks but we’re striving for it all the time.
In terms of the brand itself, we hope people see us caring and inclusive and as connectors and supporters in their community as we all work to move people to movement.
LtW: If your brand was a runner, what type of personality would they have
Ciele: Inclusive and caring. Open. Respectful of the road behind us but always looking at ways to do get to the line on the horizon creatively. Driven.
LtW: What is different about your brand from other running brands?
Ciele: I think most new brands are doing unique things. We do our thing. We’re not building product to fill a price category or to answer the latest trend in running. Ciele comes out of finding a place no other brand was paying much attention to and that will continue to be our approach.
LtW: What plans do you have coming up for your brand?
Ciele: Good things coming. You’ll see new equipment and new experiences in the coming months. Same considered approach.
Find out more about Ciele on their website. And you can follow the brand on Instagram @cieleathletics