Men’s activewear label Ten Thousand was built on the idea that dedication and commitment to a goal is needed to achieve greatness. “Simply put, you have to do something over and over again to get it right,” co-founder and CEO Keith Nowak says.
The New York-based brand, founded in 2017, came out of a simple frustration Nowak and cofounder Eugenio Labadie shared—it was just hard to find a good pair of workout shorts.
For Nowak, 37, a triathlete and marathoner who played professional soccer in Italy after high school, every brand he’d turn to when looking for sportswear was underwhelming and made with cheap materials. This was often coupled with online shopping experiences that were often just an “overwhelming list of indistinguishable products.”
Before starting Ten Thousand, he worked in venture capital with a firm that invested in companies such as Warby Parker, which gave him the inspiration to steer a brand that would present what he describes as a “very high-quality product” at a reasonable price and that would be curated specifically to the customer’s needs.
He saw a big void to be filled. A shifting fitness industry that saw the growth in popularity of CrossFit, high-intensity interval training studios, and gyms like Equinox over the past decade, didn’t have any brand that corresponded to “how modern guys think, train, and shop,” he says.
This commitment to the specific needs of the customer has carried over to a philanthropic desire to help an ailing fitness industry in the wake of Covid-19. With shelter-at-home recommendations keeping the doors shut and hurting the bottom line of many fitness facilities nationwide, Ten Thousand set a month-long initiative that began April 22 to donate 10% of net profits to local, independently owned gyms.
Beyond this, they launched a limited-edition collection, where 100% of profits go to 30 customer-selected gyms in the United States.
It was a success. Through their initiatives, they’ve donated more than $40,000 to gyms across the country. He says the response from Ten Thousand’s customers was overwhelming.
“We did this because we knew we could help out a bit, but it’s made this all so much more rewarding to see that our community is onboard with it,” Nowak says. “It goes to show me how we all identify with the struggle these owners are going through and how important these gyms are to all of us.”
Ten Thousand sells a wide range of products from their signature shorts to socks to even gear like water bottles and hats. Nowak says the unifying principle behind them all is a keen attention to detail.
Ten Thousand’s shorts range from US$58 to US$68, tank tops and shirts go for US$54, their Over Zip jacket sells for US$88, their interval pants are US$98 and 3/4 tight pants are marketed at US$88.
Nowak and Labadie spent two years researching and developing their first pair of shorts—sleek, light-weight, yet durable, designs with a focus on versatility to accommodate multiple kinds of workouts. From there, they built out the brand to incorporate other workout essentials beyond their signature shorts. Nowak adds that they work with a group of 200 athletes for product development and wear-testing.
He says the goal is “to deliver the most comfortable, best fitting, and highest performing gear available.”
WHAT’S THE GOOD?
As soon as news of the coronavirus pandemic hit, Nowak says it was important that Ten Thousand responded to ways to help its greater community. He says closing gyms forced coaches and trainers to wonder what the next couple of months would look like and if they would even “be able to survive the end of this.”
“For many of us, myself included, these are our sanctuaries and communities, the places we go to relieve tension, spend time with friends, and find purpose. Those hours at the gym represent some of the most valuable moments of our lives,” he adds. “We need these gyms to still be around on the other side of this, so we wanted to do something to support those who have supported us along the way.”
To find gyms to support, Ten Thousand reached out to its wide network of customers. Nowak says that when the company sent out its first email seeking suggestions, he was shocked by the number of replies, texts, and even LinkedIn messages that came flooding in.
Beyond the initial program, he thought it would be important to dedicate the Support Your Local Gym collection to the cause. The foundation shorts and interval shorts being sold through this initiative will be available while supplies last, all proceeds supporting the gyms.
While your local gym might still be closed, Ten Thousand has also posted ADAPT/OVERCOME , a series of free online workouts to help you keep in shape while staying inside.
“During a time like this, it’s more important than ever to keep up with training to relieve stress and stay healthy. Since we couldn’t go to the gym anymore, we needed to get in our training at home, but it’s not easy to program a challenging workout on your own and keep it interesting day after day,” Nowak says. “So, we thought our team of athletes could help our customers by programming short, hard, and fun workouts every day to keep them moving and to set a foundation for this new way of working out.”
Ten Thousand’s goal is to “become the hub for men’s training,” Nowak says. The brand hopes to include more core training essentials and ideally expand into physical retail spaces once the world opens up again.
He adds that they hope to focus on other charitable initiatives and continue to develop One In/One Out , a way to recycle old gear no longer in use to receive 10% off a new purchase.
“Being part of a community means doing everything we can to support and help out, so we will always be looking for more ways to give back,” he says.