We caught up with Richard Rusling, one of the brand's founders, to talk running shoes, lockdowns, and the origin of the ZR S.
For those of us new to Zen Running Club, please tell us a bit about where the brand came from and why you do what you do.
Zen Running Club started during lockdown with a couple of friends, we have all been in the sports industry for a long time and saw the need for change – first of all a shift to proper sustainability is long overdue - not recycled boxes or plastic bottles, but a concerted effort to re-think the way that things are done.
Secondly we wanted to remove the misconception that with sustainability has to come compromise. There’s no reason for sustainable product to be low performing, expensive and not very pretty to look at – we pulled together the insights of athletes, material scientists and trend forecasters to prove that it doesn’t have to be that way.
With the amazing reviews coming from the ZR 01, what makes it so special?
First of all, we’ve been blown away by the feedback for the ZR 01, and how it has not only become a running favourite, but also something that people want to wear all day, everyday.
When we worked on the ZR 01 we briefed a very democratic product based on the monumental changes that we saw in the running industry. During lockdown people found the joy in running again, gone were the short shorts and sports watches and people started to run to switch off from a slew of video calls, and prioritising smiles over personal bests.
Where does the ZR S come from, and why build a second shoe?
As I said, we wanted our first shoe to be a shoe that people love – all day, every day. We test our products with athletes at lots of different levels right up to former Olympians and elite level - there was a push for us to be faster – something that had the core benefits of the ZR 01 that people love, but more support and structure – for those days that you go further and a bit faster. We moved the support that’s on the outside of the ZR01 to the upper itself, playing with different materials and weaves to create a more stable experience at higher intensities, and built the heel a bit differently to balance out the ride.
What does the S stand for? Well, we were talking about structure, support, speed, stability, smiles and a lot of other things in the meeting when we named this shoe – so it’s somewhere in there.
We’re starting to make waves, it’s been a crazy ride that gets more amazing week by week – we launch at Champs Homefield in Miami tomorrow. There’s a run that we are co-hosting with them on November 19th in Miramar – sign up here if you’re in the area - https://events.footlocker.com/champsrunclub
We’re working on lots of new product, but it’ll have to be a surprise – watch this space…….