Running’s past is filled with influential acts of defiance. And while many of us wish that the world of athletics was a brief respite from protest and posturing - the truth is - sport has always been a playing field for progress.
“Women aren’t allowed, and furthermore are not physiologically able,” was the race director’s direct answer to Bobbi Gibb's Boston Marathon application in 1966. Bobbi broke the rules as a bandit in the 1966 race, throwing down a spicy 3 hour, 21 minute marathon and starting a conversation about women’s right to sport. With Boston on the horizon, we can’t help but think about Bobbi.
Or the female steeplers in the 2008 olympics, finally able to see their stage.
Or Lauren Fleshman reclaiming her body, by reclaiming her body image.
Or Kelly Roberts' refusal of another’s definition of strong.
Or Kara standing up as a whistle-blower in the sport.
Or our CEO Sally’s unapologetic leadership and continued fight for the female athlete.
Our Spring Collection - Destroy // Create - was born from this insight. That a deconstruction must precede a reconstruction of any significance. That our most radical acts of progress come from first, the choice to break, shake, or take apart. We see it in this season’s designs - from rule breaking styles like the Two-Timing Tank and long sleeve. We see it in rebel-inspired moto inspired looks like the Portman Pants. We see it in silhouettes and prints that channel the breaking act itself (meet the Smash Tank). Even in feminine skirts and dresses, now in technical fabrics, reclaimed by the fierce as a new style altogether. Rebellion is our tribute to running. Saluting both the tradition of the sport, and the power it has to transform our future.
We rounded up some of our running rebels: The Famous Feather Stephens, Little Wing Rule-Breaker Jess Barnard, Fledgling Heroine Hannah Calvert, & Volée Member / Voice For Social Justice Morena Newton - to run rebellious in this spring’s most defiant designs. Outside the lines of the track or trail, with the streets as their playground, they talk about the intersection of running and rule-breaking - and explore how we change through sport.
JESS ON RUNNING (OR NOT RUNNING) LIKE A REBEL
I thought my rebelliousness was a new found identity. But thinking back, it's been me all along - especially in running and sport. In high school, I ran the ran the 4x400, 300m hurdles, did the long and triple jump because people said distance runners couldn’t do those events. I never ran with a watch. Sno-cones and pizza were my pre-race snacks. I was that annoying kid who never showed up to 7am practices all summer, but showed up in the fall ready to kick some ass and take some names. I became a steeplechaser in college because no one else was up for the challenge. My embracing of rebellion is tied to two things: my independence + my need to prove the nay-sayers wrong.
HANNAH ON CHANGING THE GAME
“Don’t make the first move.” This isn’t just in the context of relationships. This is a rule that needs to be broken in many areas of life. In careers, in dreams, even in racing. If you see a first-mover advantage that you want, be bold and take action.
MORENA ON WRITING YOUR OWN STYLE RULES
I dress myself according to a couple of rules, one of which is to approximate pajamas whenever possible while still looking academic chic. This means that I am very into wearing jeans that aren't stiff, slacks that sit low and and don't bind, flannels, cardigan sweaters. When I want to go my own way, I pull from either my collection of boots or my ugly shoe collection and work from there.
FEATHER ON THE DEFIANT ACT OF RUNNING FREE
I feel most rebellious any time I run unplugged. No music, no watch, no sort of measurement of pace, distance, or time. It's the freest form of running for me.
MORENA ON CHANGING RUNNING'S NARRATIVE
Growing up running track and flirting with running in college produced a competitive streak that is difficult to quell. I'm not nearly as fast as I feel I should be and this is a difficult reality that makes it really tough for me to put in the effort to improve. I want to be faster and stronger right now. I want to run how I used to run. This is what I would change about running. There is certainly a place for the competition part of running but I wish that the running community, and specifically the media, could be different and possibly smarter about the consistent narratives. Perhaps instead of articles about how to get faster, magazines could write about how to have more fun, how to make more running friends, and how to brunch the best after running.
JESS ON RULE-BREAKERS UNITING
Rebelliousness loves company? Is that how I ended up here at Oiselle? If breaking rules means fighting for change, celebrating women, speaking out... then where's the rulebook? It's our new to-do list.
HANNAH ON HER FAVORITE REBEL RUN
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is right in the backyard of my hometown, and sometimes in the summer I will go there to run the same routes I ski. Running up those hills destroys me, plus it feels a little rebellious to run up hills people usually prefer to rip down.
MORENA ON RUNNING LIKE A REBEL
I spent part of my sophomore year in Manhattan. I will always remember my first run in Central Park. It felt risky and rebellious. But the sights, the smells, the people! I remember running back down the perimeter of the park and gawking at the buildings on the upper east side, running to the northern border and into Harlem, striding past the Museum of Natural History and the Julliard/NYC Ballet/Metropolitan Opera campus. I remember having a difficult time sleeping, and running from mid-town to Times Square sometimes well after midnight. There were so many things to notice while I traveled on my own feet. This habit has become my preferred way to explore new places, which is where I find the rebellion in it.
FEATHER ON LIVING LIKE A RULE BREAKER
I believe strongly in exercising the right to question any and all things. Growing up, I learned in school that rules were rules. You either followed along or you were punished. It's a pretty narrow scope for developing any sort of meaningful understanding of the world. Who defines what is right and wrong? Whose ideals are being represented? I like to enter any situation with an open and inquisitive mind. Sure there are important rules that exist, but I'd say it's most important to fully grasp their value and the effect that these rules have on the forward progress our big and beautiful collective world.
Running has always been a venue that provokes “how would you change the run? your life? the world? Why?”.
Keep running. Keep asking. Keep changing. The rules were made to be broken. Let’s re-write them, together.