I apologise for more marathon talk but I promise this post is less about evangelical preaching and more about actual clothes. In any case, I can't quite shake off the memories of San Francisco just yet. Especially not since an email plops into my inbox with the subject line "You Run the World" cueing an ever-affirmative Beyonce soundtrack featuring of course Run the World (Girls). This very song was the background note to the San Francisco Marathon, especially when at about mile seven, I was huffing and puffing on a hill and in a vision of hot neon pink, effortlessly tied windbreaker around the hips and printed leggings, two girls ran past me, hair free and jewellery a-jangling. They were Samantha Jo Alonso and Valerie Julian, sisters and partners of Fruition LV, the one and only vintage store that I know of in Las Vegas, notorious because of its loud n' proud taste and incredibly addictive styling in their lookbooks.
It's this sister duo's combined prowess in both running and styling that got them involved with Nike, working with them on a consultancy basis, styling their running crews and speaking up for running with style. "At FRUITION, we’ve developed a platform that serves as an idea factory for a plethora of designers, including Nike, who are all looking to discover inspiration for their future collections through our archived compendium," explains Samantha in an email Q&A I badgered her for.
Beyond brazen styling, it's Samantha and Valerie's love of life and positivity that inspires even the most hardened of observers. Frankly as they both breezed past me in the half marathon, running with ease and looking like a million pounds whilst doing so, I can say that I would have listened to anything they said, soaking up their wise words like a sponge, purely because they looked like they OWNED their run. Samantha in particular with her super long jet black hair looked like a 21st century Pocahontas rushing through the woods, braving it all without looking like she's breaking into a sweat. "Life is a sport and the world is our RUNway. For Val and I, the world of fashion and sport co-exist therefore looking good for victory is a state of mind that’s effortless and a natural part of what we do. It’s the life we live. It’s the air we breathe."
The idea of the marathon route as a RUNway never even occurred to me but just to show that Samantha took her own sage words seriously, she challenged herself and for charity to doing FIVE FULL marathons in one year, spanning across Las Vegas, Chicago, Berlin, New York and Rome. FIVE. The mind just boggles. I can't quite compute that number yet on the back of my one singular half marathon. And yet Samantha ran them in outfits that included Michael Angel printed leggings, Jeremy Scott onesies or Walter van Beirendonck waistbags, not to mention some eye-catching jewellery and always with a smile and belief that she can truly combine her love of fashion with running in a symbiotic relationship. "As women, our responsibility to be leading examples of strong and courageous individuals is never taken lightly. We hope to bring light and encouragement to other women by using fashion and sport as our medium to communicate that message."
They never compromise functionality over style though when it comes to their running gear, sticking to materials and garments that are vaguely within the boundaries of sportswear but cannily knowing what works from a high fashion context - for example identifying a pair of Alexander McQueen leggings as possible running gear. "We refuse to compromise function over fashion. We find ways to harmonize the two by identifying which ready to wear pieces look great and perform just as well."
I may well slot in a pair of jazzy trainers every now and again but these girls know how to wear a sports windbreaker as well as not sweating in a pair of leggings. Or else, if they were, they certainly didn't look it which was not my case last Sunday morning. I thought I was making somewhat of an effort with my co-ordinated neon yellow and neon-edged run shorts courtesy of Nike but these girls took it to another level. Samantha admirably says in the video below "I treat those 26.2 miles like it's a runway show" and in her highly quotable email back to me, she adds "Life isn’t a dress rehearsal….this is it! Just like anything in life, we need to show up and be ready to give 1000000%." and that's certainly a few thoughts to carry through to my next run, which is pretty much a fixed certainty.
Samantha Jo Alonso and Valerie Julian
On their greatest achievement in life...
Samantha Jo Alonso: For years I sweated it out solo but overtime after countless miles, handfuls of marathon victories and infinite meditation, a vision that was bigger than myself was developed into my running dream team, Mission I’mPOSSIBLE. Our vision serves a purpose to our community as more life is revived through one running maverick at a time. Seeds of encouragement are being planted as we continue to lead by examplex. The transformation and revival that’s occurring in Las Vegas through our team is truly something supernatural.
Valerie: Realizing the vision that running has given me purpose to be a living example of bridging fashion with physical fitness. In addition, the gift to motivate and touch lives through being a catalyst of change physically, mentally and spiritually, an inspiration that keeps me uplifted.
Samantha and Valerie styled the SF Runway Crew for Nike
I may have highlighted Samantha and Valerie's enlightened running style but some of you might know their work through Fruition LV, their vintage store in Las Vegas that also operates as an e-store. Fruition LV sells the sort of vintage that has a contemporary spin. They flavour their descriptions with things like "Ancestral Proenza Schouler" and their selection of printed Versace, Chanel and Hermes as well as an array of eye-catching sportswear makes Fruition something of a highly bookmarkable site. It's easy to see how Nike picked up on the duo's styling from their photos on the online store that manage to make individual items stand out in their layered ensembles that mix up genres in a way that I undeniably relate to.