Thanks to Lululemon and other yoga and active lifestyle companies, the term “athleisure” is now used readily to describe clothing for sport and life. Now, whether sarcastic or genuine, District Vision has been anointed “zenwear” by fans of this running apparel company that seeks to promote mindfulness in addition to high end running performance.
While unlikely, mindfulness in terms of design and construction certainly are appreciated. District Vision uses some recycled materials and they’re proud of their European-made products. As runners, we know better than anyone the feeling of moving meditation that our sport provides. If we can apply the feelings of peace and big thinking that we get from running to the rest of our lives and the world, we could do worse than to invest in companies who use mindfulness as a brand value.
Scrolling through their website, you won’t find familiar tropes of the modern, hyper-marketed running company. There are no incentives to save money by signing up for a newsletter; there are no customer reviews on the product pages; there is a “mindful tapes” page where you can download instructional videos for improving your running through mindfulness, hosted by a person who taught at Esalen Institute, the famous mindfulness retreat in Big Sur, California.
District Vision found early traction with their lineup of Japanese-produced eyewear, and slowly expanded into the apparel market. The brand doesn’t use trail running-inspired language, and in fact, their products are positioned more in urban green settings.
I imagine the target audience are fast road runners ticking six-minute miles through San Francisco, before restoring purpose at Hua Zang Si Temple in the Mission neighborhood; this feels like apparel for nature-appreciating urbanites not nature-obsessed nitwits like me. And so, even though I feel a little self-conscious wearing District Vision’s apparel, it was a rewarding experience because the apparel is just very nice.
In this review, we write about three District Vision men’s apparel items:
- District Vision TomTom Half Tights ($100) knee-length compression shorts
- District Vision Spino 5″ Training Shorts ($110) traditional running shorts
- District Vision Greg Cabin Fleece ($190) jacket
District Vision TomTom Half Tights
The District Vision TomTom Half Tights ($100) are the brand’s shorts I wear the most. I run with fairly few accessories, almost never with a phone, unless I’m testing products like these, so the TomTom Half Tights are the ultimate streamlined shorts in my arsenal. Not only do you feel a little faster in a half tight, but they are also nice to wear on cooler days since the extra length covers more of your legs.
These shorts are lighter and a little stretchier than other half tights I’ve tested, moving with you, not restricting your stride. The fabric is a 100% recycled four-way stretch with outstanding odor protection. I wore the TomTom Half Tights day after day for a week without washing and there was no stiffness from dried sweat or intense odors.
The words “Mind Body Spirit” are screen printed down the right leg, inviting passersby to consider the message of this gear with the brand’s logo on the other leg. None of these logos has suffered any detachment or peeling in spite of brushing up against trees and rocks on my trail runs. The fabric comes from an unnamed Italian mill and is handmade; a red drawstring is a nice contrast to locate easily when making mid-run adjustments.
Despite my aversion to extra features, the shorts hold an iPhone well along with a specially constructed sunglasses pocket, which is very useful when on a big climb where your sweat rate outpaces evaporation and drips all over your frames.
Side note: District Vision is mostly a men’s company. This should be mentioned in the context of the TomTom Half Tights which District Vision says is a unisex piece. I’m 6 foot, 4 inches tall and weigh 180 pounds and wore a medium in this short. I got a pair of women’s The North Face Flight Series Half Tights from a female friend also in a size medium and the fit is virtually the same. Women and men should proceed with caution though and check the size chart before ordering.Shop the District Vision TomTom Half Tights
District Vision Spino 5” Training Shorts
The District Vision Spino 5″ Training Shorts ($110) are moderately split shorts with a super-comfortable brief liner. The outer short is made with a very breathable shell fabric. There are two mesh sections on either side of the zippered center pocket, helping to reduce weight and increase airflow. The fabric feels luxurious against the skin, again sourced from an Italian mill and constructed in Europe — in Lithuania, to be specific.
I tested many shorts for the previously published Best Men’s Running Shorts buyer’s guide< and found that even in some top-performing models the inner short is not very stable or conforming. The opposite is true in this short; the inseam of the inner brief is about 2.5 inches and it fits very snugly.
There is one small inner pocket about the size of bygone accessories like an iPod shuffle, a Suunto M-3 compass, or a couple of Power Shower wipes. But that is to say, you’ll probably just put your house or car key there. Like the TomTom Half Tights, odor and moisture control in the Spino 5″ Training Shorts are excellent.Shop the District Vision Spino 5-Inch Training Shorts
District Vision Greg Cabin Fleece
I have lived in the District Vision Greg Cabin Fleece ($190) jacket for many months now. It’s a deep “pile” fleece, the kind more popular in the 1990s than now. It’s certainly not for running but it usually accompanied me to and from every run this fall and winter.
My wife thinks it’s an obnoxious design but I appreciate how different and unique it is. The jacket is so warm and soft and even has a two-way zipper. Over time the jacket has pilled a little and lost some threads in the elastic finishing at the wrists and waist, but overall it is one of the most comfortable and stylish “running” jackets you’ll find.
The Greg Cabin Fleece is made from a 300-gram recycled Italian fleece. The breast pocket has a hidden zipper and is made of a waterproof membrane, perfect for stashing your paper training notebook.Shop the District Vision Greg Cabin Fleece
District Vision Men’s Apparel Overall Impressions
Mindful running can happen with or without District Vision clothing, but some people will appreciate the company’s persistent reminder to aim for reflection. I would frame these pieces as running basics with interesting subtleties; they get the job done without the obsequious pfaff we’re sold constantly from other companies.
The high prices will raise some hackles but if you’re keen on tuning in to the independent and forward-leaning running apparel brands bubbling beneath the surface, check out this company. They phase in and out of new styles frequently and you might be surprised at what you find.
Call for Comments
- Are you familiar with the company District Vision?
- How do you implement mindfulness in your running and daily life?