Bandit Running is More than a Brand, It’s a Community

19 1 e1689622883709
Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

“It's a really stylish, community-centered, performance running apparel brand,” Tim West, co-founder of Bandit Running explains to me, the adjectives rolling off his tongue with an agility that suggests there are many more to come, before he continues: “That kind of hits all the notes in a short sentence. But if you ask me how it was different, I might dive into community. Or the nuances of the design, and the feeling that you have. And why it's not products that are chasing trends.”

Tim's brother and co-founder Nick elaborates: "The mission is 'Evolve Running.' We're thinking through every touch point in the runner's journey." I spent an afternoon at Bandit’s sunny Greenpoint storefront to catch up with co-founders Tim, Nick and Ardith Singh, to hear about the trajectory of the brand thus far and what’s to come. 

RELATED: From Formalwear to Tracksuits, Designer Rich Fresh is Redefining Luxury Menswear

The History

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

All three founders are runners. Nick and Tim grew up with a father who was a 12-time marathoner, and frequently took them to the events throughout their childhoods. The brothers would go on to both be competitive soccer players—with Tim playing D1—and maintained running as part of their conditioning for the sport. 

Today, Tim and Nick both represent different kinds of running—which is a big part of the ethos of the brand being accessible to any level. “I’m more of a mental health runner, I get out there super consistently,” Nick tells me. Tim tells me that he really loves "the mental side of the sport. I fell in love with ultra running. My first marathon was in 2017."

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

New York City is the global hub of running culture, but there's no brand that truly waves the New York City flag.

- Nick West

The very first Bandit product was a pair of performance socks that Tim released in October of 2020 after prototype testing with his running community. Tim soon started to release some other pieces to build out the line, and “everything was selling out faster and faster and [Tim] didn't spend a dollar on marketing for the entire first year. It was entirely organic, all word of mouth. It was pretty clear that we had just touched on like the sensibility of the New York City runner. There's running brands based out of Boston, Eugene obviously... and New York City is the global hub of running culture, but there's no brand that truly waves the New York City flag. And that felt like a big opportunity just to inhabit the spirit of New York City,” Nick explains. Nick and Tim left their full time jobs at the end of 2021 to run Bandit full time. 

The Community

Throughout our conversation, it’s always very clear that Bandit is more than a running brand; it’s a community. “I think it was a very simple product in a great run sock, but the community is what really brought it to life. Once the product was made, I was spending most of my time just thinking about community and how to really demonstrate New York in it, and the multiculturalness to it, and the inclusivity of it. And so we really started doing community spotlights and showcasing people out in the wild who were wearing it,” Tim explains.

The community is what really brought it to life.

- Tim West

Ardith is the Chief Design Officer for the brand, and leads the efforts in designing all of the product. And even in this practice, community is a huge part of how they determine what to make and how to evolve it over time. “I look to what's happening in performance, and really let that be the guide. So really starting from there—the headspace runners are in, in that moment, in that season,” she tells me of her process. All of the Bandit products then go through an immense process of wear testing, both internal and external, to get some perspective from actual runners.

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

“So it's really developing fabrics that take that feedback into consideration and can perform at the highest level, but all that has to be tested. That, paired with inspiration from the runway, art, and architecture influences the aesthetic approach to the product," Ardith explains, adding: “You have to be really creative, but then also really tactical, because you can't sacrifice one for the other.”

“The brand was essentially built on the track at McCarren Park,” Tim tells me, going on: “I was a member of Brooklyn Track Club, and I had a bunch of friends who were a part of the club. A lot of people in Brooklyn Track Club were wearing Bandit socks, so it felt like they were sort of, you know, one and the same.” Tim and friends would coordinate races and long runs together, and all of these things eventually spiraled into actual Bandit-organized running events.

Most recently, in January: “We started our own run club out of this store called Greenpoint Runners. We didn't want to name it Bandit Run Club. We wanted to be about the neighborhood, bringing people together. No barrier to entry, no need to wear Bandit to come, just come hang out, go for some miles, have some breakfast, meet your neighbors. It’s a really good vibe every Saturday. We always knew we wanted to do something formal. We were just kind of waiting for the store to take shape.” 

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

“I just personally love the running community,” Nick tells me when I ask him his favorite thing about running Bandit, adding: “It feels good to be building a business in such a healthy ecosystem of cool, interesting, diverse humans.” 

We're not just putting things out in the world because we like them. We're really building something that needs to be there.

- Ardith Singh

Ardith’s favorite thing about Bandit is similar: “I have to say the community too. I've designed for a lot of different types of people, and this audience is so real and so specific about what they want and it really feels like we're doing this hand in hand with the running community. And that feels really, really good. We're not just putting things out in the world because we like them. We're really building something that needs to be there.”

To hear from the community, we spoke with Rob Perez, a running enthusiast/content creator and long-time fan of Bandit. He was eager to share some of his excitement around the brand with us, and his answers truly demonstrate that the community the founders envision is in fact a reality.

"One of the biggest reasons I love Bandit is I feel like a part of their community and that they're more than just a running brand. They go beyond a product and they really care about their people," he tells ONE37pm, adding: "I also love how Bandit has allowed me to connect with runners at all different levels. They support the pros and the elite runners just as much as they're willing to support the brand new runners and welcome them into the community as well. I think it's amazing that something that started as a sock company turned into a community and has grown so much in such a short period of time."

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

The Future:

When we look to the future, there is no shortage of exciting things on the horizon for Bandit. They recently announced a partnership with Asics, the details of which are still under wraps. “We're partnering on a host of different activations and experiences over a long period of time. The goal was to find a longer term partner, not like a brand that we were going to work on a one off project with. We're super excited, we're gonna be going over to Japan and creating content with them, so we're super excited to tell that story alongside them,” Nick tells me. 

As far as the future more generally, each co-founder’s excitement flows out. "Every day, I'm just super energized about thinking how we can push things further and doing it in new and refreshing ways. It’s that kind of high level mindset which drives everybody here. It's not one individual thing that I'm excited about. It's just this perpetual improvement of the sport,” Nick tells me, before Ardith adds: "The momentum. A year ago, we were talking to our smallish community here. To see the past year and then knowing we're just picking up speed and connecting with more people across the world. It's so exciting. It never gets old seeing our product on people in the wild.”

Ashley Thompson for ONE37pm

Tim, smiling, ends our conversation with a reminder that this is just the beginning: “We’re still so small relative to our vision and ambitions for the brand. So double down on the momentum. What you see now is just the tip of the iceberg of what we want to be doing, and we're inching our way there, but we've got a long way to go.”

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down