We’ve always labeled our Runner Trucker a fan-favorite. Customers have continued to rave about its performance, it’s always topped our running accessories list, and we pride ourselves in the hat’s innovative, foldable design.

While it’s a beloved favorite, the reality is it’s not a running hat for everyone, as Alison Mariella Désir (Author of Running While Black, Host of Out & Back, Brooks Run Happy Advocate, and all-around kickass activist and disruptor) pointed out when designing her AMD collection back in 2021. The Runner Trucker, like most athletic apparel designs, is ultimately made with a white consumer in mind. The hat was too small to fit a variety of natural hairstyles, wasn’t going to protect textured hair, and quite frankly wouldn’t work for most Black women. And yet, Black women love the style and saw its functional benefits as well as appreciating the design features. And voila: Alison’s idea for a Satin Lined Runner Trucker was born. Due to supply chain delays, the hat wasn’t ready to launch along with the rest of her collection, but it’s imperative that we give credit where credit is due, and ultimately share the story behind the design.

And who better to share that story than Alison herself? We hopped on a call with Alison to talk about the conception of the Silk Lined Runner Trucker and how it is possible, and important for brands to be pushing their mission of inclusivity all the way through to the product level.


Photo credit: David Jaewon Oh // @thisisdizzle


So grab a pen and paper and take a seat, this interview is full gold.


When you tried the Runner Trucker, what were the technical features and adjustments that you felt were missing to make the hat better suited for you?

Alison: My number one concern is making sure that my hair is taken care of, and ventilation is maybe a second concern. So instead of holes that allow for breathability, I want a fabric that won’t break or damage my hair.

The second piece was the size of the hat. So many hats are built thinking of white people’s hair, which is typically straighter and flat, but Black women’s natural hair takes up more space.  

Important to discuss here is also the ways in which Black women’s hair is constantly under scrutiny. What is deemed as “professional” and “unprofessional” is rooted in white supremacy and because of that, many of us make decisions about our hair based on how whiteness sees us. Thanks to the Crown Act we finally have a blueprint for what protection against hair-based discrimination could look like, but it has not been adopted nationally.  

The third thing that I was thinking was that I wanted the hat to be within the same style of hat. It didn’t have to be a hat that signals, “Look at me! I’m so different, I need a different product”. I wanted a product that would simply normalize my experience and needs. Black women, like all consumers, are looking for a product that is built with us in mind and therefore gives us a sense of belonging.



How do you hope this product inspires Oiselle for future designs or even inspires other brands and designers?

Alison: I thought it would be important for Oiselle, which has this aspiration of being for all women, that you think more critically about how a product can align with your aspirations, pushing it all the way through to the product in an authentic way. And ultimately I hope with this product that it begins to inspire curiosity in other brands to think about what are the ways that their products are not in line with what they claim their values to be. And what are the ways that they can really get some consumer insight from racialized minorities they claim to want to serve?

For example, adding a satin lining was such a minor adjustment that could be made - literally any Black woman could’ve told you this - but when you look at the running industry, there is no other running brand that has a satin-lined cap. This is what happens when you're not actually speaking to the consumer that you want, right? Like, I will tell you what my needs are but you first have to be aware that my lived experience matters. And these can’t be one-time products, they have to become a permanent part of your line, showing your consumers they are important and that you're committed to meeting their needs.



Looking Ahead…

What a gift to have Alison - runner, mother, advocate, truth-teller, and friend to many - share her candid and creative challenge to us to make a beloved style walk its talk as a style that can function and still belong to the style family - the key word being “belong”. One product, one style, one step at a time, we’re committed for the long haul to do our part to overhaul ways that have made running less accessible to many who love the sport as much as we do.


June 14, 2023 — Hannah Calvert
Tags: Style

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