Because I’m no longer under contract to a shoe or apparel company, I’ve been busy mixing and matching my old pieces with new finds I’ve picked up the past few months. I still am Kikay Runner, after all. Considerations of comfort aside, if I know I am put together well I can stop worrying about what I look like and focus on my session whether I’m training or racing.
If you think you can find good gear only with the famous brands, I’m here to tell you to expand your horizons! There are many great places to find deals — you just have to know where and how to look.
Upscale brands and bargain bins exist side-by-side inside department stores, providing a dazzling array to choose from. You might find the big names like Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, Converse alongside lesser-known names as well as the in-house brand.
I raided an SM Store last month to grab some tops and a sports bra from their SM Woman Active line. What drew me were the colors as well as the messages printed on the tops — definitely motivational for me when I put them on!
Both tops cost me roughly less than P400 each. I usually wear much looser-fitting tops for street running so I have enough room for my FlipBelt under them. For getting on a treadmill or for crosstraining work in the gym though, these tops are perfect because they don’t get in the way.
As for the sports bra, it was around P300 and very comfortable to wear. However once I started sweating, the color bled from the bra onto the top I was wearing. Huge fashion disaster! Make sure whatever you’re buying is colorfast, or if in doubt just wear them with like colors.
Big-Box Fashion Store
With the entry of Forever 21, Old Navy, Cotton On, and H&M into the Philippines, fashion choices expanded not just for streetwear, but also for active wear. I could get lost for an hour fitting stuff from their active wear sections. I particularly like Forever 21’s color-blocked arrangement making it easier to find pieces that will go well together — although in the end I usually snap up something neutral so I have more options for what to wear it with.
These are a bit pricier than the department store in-house brands: I think on average they cost P700-800 each. But the sweat-wicking works, they’re very comfortable, and because they’re brand-neutral I can avoid wearing stuff from competing brands at the same time (yes, I’m OC that way). Because the price is pocket-friendly as well, I can buy more items, which is great when you train every day and want to avoid wearing the same thing over and over.
Sporting Goods Megastore
I love places like Sports Warehouse where I can find the previous year’s styles from big brands. Back when I used to teach aerobics for a living this was my go-to for bargain Nike items that spiced up my wardrobe. I also picked up my first-ever pair of running shoes here. But I digress…
While we have places like R.O.X. which is a multi-brand and multi-sport mega store, I haven’t found the local equivalent to Decathlon, a French sporting goods retailer with more than 1,000 stores worldwide, one of which I visited in Singapore a few months ago.
What sets Decathlon apart? For performance wear, the prices are amazingly low. Decathlon designs and manufactures almost all its 22 in-house brands for the various sports they cover from swimming, to trekking, to running.
Some of these items I picked up from Decathlon cost me less than P300 each! They hold up performance-wise even with repeated use and are quite stylish as well. Definitely a great find and if we ever get a Decathlon in the Philippines you know where I’ll be getting my gear.
When it comes to finding affordable active wear, you really need to take your brand blinders off and open up to new possibilities with lower price points and a wide variety of styles. It’s not so much what brand you wear, but how you put together what you wear.
And because these options are so affordable, you might end up wearing active wear even when you’re not being active. That’s not a bad thing. ;)