Considering that Brice Partouche was only introduced to running six years ago at the age of 36, it’s quite remarkable he is now the CEO of Satisfy, his own hugely successful running clothing brand.
What’s even more impressive is that he has identified a gap in a market where everything had seemingly been done. A market bogged down by major sports manufacturers, battling to bring a new piece of technology to the fore, promising to shave seconds off personal bests.
In fact, it’s this last point that really makes his running brand stand apart from the rest.
When Brice started to run, he instantly felt a high, something he never thought was possible from running. But it was an altogether different type of exercise he was enjoying. One away from large groups, adorned in headbands and fluorescent t-shirts that he had seen pounding city streets. His experience felt much more like an individual, meditative one – something more personal and less competitive.
Like many of us, he started wearing standard running gear from major sports brands – shorts, tees and trainers but didn’t feel that their designs represented who he was and why he ran.
So he decided to create his own.
Raised in Grenoble, a city that sits in the heart of the French Alps, Brice was always deeply passionate about sports. Whether snowboarding in the winter or bowl riding in summer, he was always active – and endlessly inspired by the DIY music subcultures of the 90s and early 00s.
It was during this time that he first ventured into the world of clothes manufacturing, creating the hugely successful April 77 brand which he ran for 18 years before starting Satisfy. The knowledge and experience he gained during this period put him in the perfect position to bring his new running product to the market, with a tight-knit team that he had worked alongside for years.
“At the beginning, we started with shorts,” says Brice direct from Satisfy’s HQ in Paris. “Shorts are as important as shoes. When I was wearing standard running short shorts I was like, where do I put my keys or my phone? I didn’t like the idea of putting the phone on my arm, and I just couldn’t find anything cool and practical. So we decided to focus on shorts, making a phone pocket with a membrane that protects it from moisture, and a pocket for your keys with separation so they don’t jingle. We also introduced a double waistband to stop chord chafing.”
These subtle touches became very effective, with the designs gaining instant rave reviews.
Brice realised quickly that he was onto something and started to personally design Satisfy’s first collection together over a six month period, all inspired by his own personal running experiences with a touch of that old DIY ethos.
He knew that the collection needed to be aspiring, and offer something more to the runner than just practicality and on-trend designs. The clothing also had to provide something that enhanced the running process – something that helped others reach that same high that he so regularly experienced. So Brice looked into developing a material inspired by the now-defunct French silk manufacturing industry – a woven fabric that would later become known as Justice.
Justice is a “technical silk” that dries up to 35% quicker than materials used by major sports brands. It’s also an impressive 65% lighter, making the overall running experience a pleasurable one. It’s made in France and then exported to Portugal for production to fall in line with Satisfy’s commitment to sustainability.
“Our carbon footprint is very important to us,” says Brice. “I am a vegan so we don’t use animal products. Sustainability is not just about the product, it is how you produce it. We don’t overproduce and we keep our production to a calendar in line with our consumer, which is also an important sustainable aspect of the business.”
He continues, “From next year we will also use only 100% recycled organic cotton in all our products.”
Satisfy have also been involved in some interesting collaborations in 2019, one of which was a running shoe they created alongside another famous French brand, Salomon. This represented the latter’s first foray into the road running market after producing a range of trekking and hiking shoes.
“Salomon is a very specific brand that covers a particular area of a sport,” says Brice. “They are the perfect brand for the transition between road running and trail running. We like this romantic idea of being able to leave the city and be a solo runner in the outdoors, and it made perfect sense when they approached us.”
Then came the Keiichi Satisfy project alongside sports eyewear pioneers District Vision. These stunning, handmade Japanese titanium frames with shatterproof lenses are made for the serious adventurer, proving again that luxury, style and performance needn’t be considered separately.
But it’s possibly Satisfy’s limited edition New York marathon collection that says more about the brand as a whole. Inspired by the glam rock band the New York Dolls, the range is made up of hand-dyed cotton pieces that represent the counterculture values Mr Partouche holds so dear.
Brice highlights this perfectly when he says – “It wouldn’t be me if it didn’t have a relation to music. Everything I do is inspired by music. It is who I am, and is always reflected in what I do.”
In 2020 Satisfy will be ever-present at other major marathons in Los Angeles, London and Paris, with a few more interesting, yet tight-lipped collaborations set to drop throughout next year and 2021. These new designs, as with all of Satisfy’s earlier collections, will be available to purchase via their website or SSENSE.