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Zen Running Club Is Merging Style, Performance and Sustainability to Attract the Modern Runner

As many athletic heavyweights work to attract the modern runner, the new performance brand Zen Running Club is focused solely on this athlete — and their lifestyle.

“Our consumer is someone who wants to go running and hang out with friends, someone who wants to look and feel good. It’s as much about the coffee afterward as it is about running around the park,” explained Richard Rusling, one of Zen’s three co-founders, who also include Dominic Sinnott and Andy Farnworth. All three are footwear industry veterans.

After scrapping its launch in November 2021 due to the global logistical issues, the Netherlands- based brand made its proper debut in April, with the ZR 01, a functional and stylish shoe that is also sustainable. The plant-based look is made using sugarcane, natural rubber and eucalyptus, and retails for $139. It is both lightweight and well-cushioned, and features sock-like uppers with a snug fit and rocker midsoles meant to propel the runner forward.

While Zen’s sustainability characteristics draw obvious comparisons to Allbirds and Veja
— which have both dabbled in performance — Sinnott said the brand likens itself more to running industry disruptors Hoka and On. “Our competitors are the young, innovative upstarts rather than the clear, sustainable flagbearers,” he explained.

Zen Running Club ZR 01
A runner in the Zen Running Club ZR 01 shoe.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zen Running Club

As for Zen’s retail strategy, e-commerce will be a main focus, though the founders also plan to establish wholesale partnerships with select retailers and expand when the timing is right. “As much as there’s this complete direct-to-consumer business model, people still want to touch and feel shoes. It’s something personal,” Rusling explained.

Zen has landed Kadewe and Oberpollinger as its German retail partners in Berlin and Munich, respectively. In the coming months, the brand will launch with Bründl in Austria, Fenwick in the U.K. and a soon-to-be-named retailer in the United States. Looking ahead, Zen will continue to focus on those regions, including opening pop-up shops in key cities.

Zen Running Club ZR 01
Zen Running Club ZR 01.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zen Running Club
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