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"Boutique fashion for the subculture"

Neuschwander's Run WTF
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Ultratrail runner Flo Neuschwander can not only run fast and far - he also knows a thing or two about having the right gear. At the beginning of November 2023, the German world record holder, and his wife Constanze launched their new running clothing brand Run WTF. The Swedish Ingredient Brand Polygiene sat down with the two to find out why Run WTF was urgently needed, what Florian Neuschwander's goals are with the new brand and what makes Run WTF so special. With you can also read along.

Polygiene: You recently presented your brand "Run WTF" in new splendor and launched the corresponding new web home. Congratulations! As a runner, you are the world record holder for 50km and 100km on the treadmill, you are in the Guinness Book of Records and have numerous victories over medium and long distances.

Flo Neuschwander wants to bring individuality and culture to running with his Run WTF brand
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Polygiene: What does running mean to you, Flo?

Flo: I've enjoyed running for over 26 years. In fact, I've run around the world more than three times in training and competitions during that time. Running is my life and is part of me and my everyday life.  I've never lost the desire to run, even though there have been defeats and low points. I always come back. I hope that I can continue to do this sport into an old age.

"Ran around the world three times - and never lost the desire to run"

Why is the brand’s name Run WTF?

Flo: The name has been with me since my beginnings on the internet. In the early days of social media, around 2012, I had the "Run with the Flow" running blog where I reported on my training experiences, competitions, and my life as a runner. In 2015, after my German victory at the Wings for Life World Run in Darmstadt, a merch store with this name was created. Fans could buy lifestyle and later functional clothing there. With the new running clothing, we have condensed the essence of "Run with the Flow" a little and given the whole thing a meta level. So "Run with the Flow" has been with me for a very long time and now as an acronym.

There are already numerous running brands on the market. Why did you still decide to start a new running brand?

Flo: I've been very interested in fashion since I was young. I think brands and trends outside the norm and the mainstream are particularly cool. I think - even though this has fortunately changed more and more in recent years and there are very urban brands - the groove of functional running clothing is not very individual and contemporary. Yet for people like me, running is more than just sport. It is a big part of my personality. I also want to emphasize my individuality when I run. That's why we founded Run WTF. It's boutique fashion brand for the running subculture.

"You can't feel good running clothes."
Run WTF is a ”boutique fashion brand” with functionality for runners – all made in Europe

The running segment is broadly diversified and the runners themselves are very different. For whom is Run WTF made for?

Constanze: Inspired by the contemporary digital running culture, we make functional clothing for those who are looking for high-quality clothing and for whom it is important to express their individuality in training and competition - boutique fashion for running.

When the workout becomes a nightmare

What makes a good running outfit - and how is this reflected in your collection?

Flo: You can't see good running clothing. It just must be there, and it must support you. It must not be distracting. There's nothing worse than hitting a hard interval training session and being distracted by the friction of a shirt or shorts. The workout quickly turns into a horror show and the clothes end up at the back of the wardrobe.  We're still in the early stages of developing our own designs, but I'm very pleased because we've put a lot of time and effort into optimizing our first collection. Nothing rubs, nothing is annoying. It just feels right.

“Our label in three words: independent, fresh and sustainable" says Constanze Neuschwander.
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"RUN WTF can't keep up with the speed of big industry players."

How do you differentiate from other running brands?

Constanze: What makes us different is that we are a two-person independent family business. We develop our collection together with a designer from Hamburg, we work digitally, avoid all unnecessary business trips and we attach great importance to sustainability throughout the entire value chain.

We source fabrics and accessories 100% from the EU. This means, from the zipper to the fabric, everything in our clothing is made in Europe. Our items are sewn in a Portuguese family business. Unlike running, we avoid unnecessary kilometers. This is something that only a few running brands can achieve. And since sport and a sustainable lifestyle are important to both of us, we strive to ensure those targets are met with Run WTF.

You are also gradually incorporating Polygiene odor control technologies into the collection. How does this relate to your sustainability concept?

Flo: With Polygiene's StayFresh™ technology, we have integrated an invisible upgrade into our running clothing. Anyone who runs or does endurance sports in general knows how nasty sports clothes can smell after just one wear. This means that the clothes end up in the washing machine after almost every running session. This requires water, electricity, detergent, and time, every time. Another point is that the clothes suffer with every wash. The longevity is reduced by the washing process. Even if you put them in a laundry bag before washing. We therefore looked at what options are available to address this issue. We came across Polygiene, tested it and were happy.

I hang my running clothes with StayFresh technology on a hanger after training and leave them to dry. Then I can use them again - up to eight times. It's a sustainability upgrade that suits us perfectly.

The Swedish Ingredient Brand Polygiene brings built-in FRESHNESS into products.

The first new products have been launched. What else can we look forward to?

Flo: Our work on Run WTF is always planned around my training and competition schedule, my sponsors and everyday family life. Accordingly, our schedules are not comparable to those of other brands. In mid-January, we launched the first item with Polygiene technology. A windbreaker that rounds off the collection and completes our Winter 23/24 kit. Caps and a color update followed in February. We are also currently working on circular knit running socks made from Econyl - with Stay Fresh technology, of course. We want to gradually add more running essentials to the Run WTF collection.

What else is Run WTF planning in 2024?

Flo: For me, it's a personal ambition to support the next generation of runners. I know from my own experience how difficult it is to win over sponsors - especially when you're at the start of your running career. I was lucky and am very grateful that I was able to make a living from running for at least the last five years thanks to my great sponsors. Many athletes can't do that - even though their achievements are impressive. RUN WTF gives me the opportunity to support promising young athletes, at least for now, with equipment.

Is there an Run WTF athlete whose name we should have on the radar?

We are very happy that Marius Abele from SSC Hanau-Rodenbach has been our first Run WTF Pro athlete since January. He is a talented short and middle-distance runner from Hesse. We are also working on an ambassador program. These are two topics that we are pursuing in 2024. In the long term, I would like other athletes to represent the brand as well as myself.

Where do you see yourselves in five years' time?

Flo: In terms of sport, I hope that I can carry on doing what I've been doing for a long time. I want to break a few more records and there are still a few competitions on my bucket list.

For Run WTF, I hope that we can establish ourselves in these difficult times and that we are accepted by the community. Only then will it be possible to expand the collections and promote sponsorships. Our big wish is also to organize a RUN WTF race event, but I can't say whether that will happen in the next five years.

Polygiene: Thank you, Constanze und Flo Neuschwander!