Fall style runs down catwalk

By Lindsey Woods

The squeaking of sneakers is an unusual departure from the click of high heels on fashion show runways, but one Chicago store is bringing the two worlds together.

On Nov. 9, Fleet Feet Chicago will host its fourth annual Fall Fashion Show, which features new lines from the world of running apparel. This year, it has teamed up with Nike, Mizuno and Saucony to put on its biggest show to date.

“For a long time, running has been a very geeky sport,” said John Moloznik, Fleet Feet Chicago’s general manager. “We’ve been trying to find ways to break out of the geekiness and bring it into the mainstream.”

The show started as a makeshift runway constructed on the sales floor in Fleet Feet’s Piper’s Alley location, 1620 N. Wells St. Now, the event is attended by 400 people at the Second City ETC stage, 1616 N. Wells St., with two shows, dueling disc jockeys, an after-party and a red carpet, according to Catherine Moloznik, buying manager for Fleet Feet Chicago.

“The vibe is always awesome,” said Lauren Matricardi, social media and marketing manager. “It’s not chic by any means, but we try to make it that. We try to do special things that make it a higher-end event.”

In the week leading up to the show, Fleet Feet hosts three events, each dedicated to one of three companies whose products will be featured. On Nov. 2, the store hosted Nike Shield Gear Up Night, where, in conjunction with its usual “fun run,” it had promotional products for Nike’s new line, as well as free T-shirts, pizza and beer.

On Nov. 4, the store offered a Mizuno event. According to John Moloznik, the event had a historic twist because anniversary editions of their Wave Rider shoes from the past 14 years were featured. The 15th anniversary shoe was released at the event, at which there were food and drinks, but no “fun run.”

The last of the Fashion Week events is a Saucony event on Nov. 7. The theme will tie in daylight saving time and the product, which is gear that helps runners remain visible when it’s dark outside. Catherine Moloznik said the event will be brightly colored, complete with strobe lights and a “fun run.”

The Fashion Week events, unlike the fashion shows themselves, are free and open to the public. Tickets for the shows are $20 and include admission to the runway show, a goody bag, an after-party—which will serve hors d’ouevres—entertainment and a private shopping experience.

Matricardi said that, in past years, the staff walked the runway. This year, she said it is including other models too.

“This year—because we have two shows—we wanted to open it up to other models,” she said. “We have a couple vendor representatives, local media models, news broadcasters and people like that. Mainly, it’s just local people.”

John Moloznik said he wanted the event to emulate Fashion Week in New York, which is why the store decided to put on multiple events instead of just one fashion show. He said they start planning in January for these events because he wants vendors to start debuting their new lines on the runway, instead of just showing looks that are already available.

Fleet Feet is in 34 states, but the Chicago location is the only one that hosts Fashion Week, though John Moloznik said they’re making some headway in persuading other locations to do the same.

“Skateboarders and skiers and snowboarders always [have] this whole line of clothing that they wear when they [aren’t] skateboarding or skiing,” John Moloznik said. “You [can] identify who they [are] based on what they wear. Runners don’t have that. To create that identity is kind of what we’re shooting for.”