I own a lot of activewear. Think sweat-wicking running tees, base layer thermals with heat reflective lining, scent-blocking socks, compression shorts, multi-stretch socks, and so forth. I also own plenty of clothing that’s rather stylish, if I do say so myself. (Meaning if my wife tells me so.) Button downs, henleys, slim but-not-skinny jeans, chukka boots, et al.
Also present in my wardrobe are a number of items that strive to fit into that narrow crossover space, where activewear meets stylish clothing. Until recently, most of said garments stayed in the closet or in a drawer, because more often than not, brands that try to produce clothing that’s genuinely suitable for sport and actually looks good enough for general wear fail on both fronts, with the resulting apparel offering neither the flex and fit needed for action nor the looks needed for casual confidence.
Then some Brits showed up on the scene and the paradigm shifted.
Iffley Road’s garments check all the boxes you’d expect from activewear.
The Brits in question are the clothing designers from Iffley Road, a UK-based company founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Claire Kent and Bill Byrne. As lifelong running enthusiasts, they were also long frustrated that “there wasn’t much kit on the market they really liked” that was suitable for runners but could also serve “for more than just running, but for a wider active lifestyle.”
The Iffley Road collection was designed to be suitable to wear whether you’re running at the gym or off to the pub. And as I have worn Iffley gear ( being American, I don’t say “kit”) both while on a run and at a bar (ditto “pub,” though we all know “kit” and “pub” are excellent things to say), I can vouch that the company pulled off its mission.
The brand’s garments check all the boxes you’d expect from activewear. The running shirts wick sweat and stretch and flex with ease, the shorts are lightweight and have mesh briefs and waistbands that are elasticized and semi-adjustable, the hoodies are warm and soft and made from a durable poly-cotton blend, and so forth. You should expect performance from your activewear and not be surprised to get it. The surprise here is that so many Iffley Road shirts, pants, and layering garments that are at their core activewear really do look good enough to wear out on the town or at your desk at work, assuming your workplace isn’t a suit and tie sort of spot.
Take the Track White Cambria Striped Drirelease T-Shirt — worn with a pair of jeans, it looks just like any other casual shirt in your rotation. Worn during an hour-long run, it will lift sweat and release heat as well as any technical garment you’ve ever had in your gym bag.
Or try the Fife Striped Hooded Sweatshirt; it will be right at home at work, in class, or out with friends, yet it will also help you keep warm during a hike on a cold day or get your sweat on when worn in the gym.
Perhaps most striking of all is the fact that Iffley Road clothes just look so … British. It’s hard to put a finger on why — maybe it’s the stripes, the narrow cuts, the fabrics? — but the gear looks distinctly English. In fact, all Iffley Road clothing is designed in Britain and manufactured in Europe, so those looks aren’t deceiving.
This isn’t cheap stuff, for the record. Even a tank top costs £50 (that’s about $63 at today’s exchange rate, which is low these days with thanks to Brexit). But the crossover appeal and durable fabrication make Iffley kit (ah, just go with it) worth your pence.
Oh, and what’s the name about? According to their site: “Our name comes from the Oxford track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954. There is so much about that feat that inspires us.” And now you know that.
For more athletic wear and performance apparel options, check out our guide to the best athleisure brands, which do their best to pair style and function, just like Iffley Road.