I just counted, and I actually own eight (yes, that’s 8) pieces of clothing from INKnBURN. Wow. I’m a total addict. It seems like I’ve been contemplating putting this review together forever. But now I think it’s high time that I take a few moments and talk about my absolute favorite clothing line. Ever.
Several months ago lovely INKnBURN owner, Megan, contacted me to ask if I would test a couple of their new running skirts. At the time I’d all but given up on running skirts because they fit me weird and caused chafing problems that I don’t want to talk about.
Don’t ask. But I said yes because…well…it is INKnBURN – the one and only premier ultra-marathon runner clothing company. Plus I’d already heard great things about their skirts and still had high hopes of finding a good one.
Well I found two, actually. Megan sent me the “Peacock” skirt and the “Lust” skirt, both gorgeously colorful and fashion-statement-y in their own completely different ways. I reviewed them here. Since then I’ve become a totally nerdy INKnBURN super-fan, and the more I wear their clothes the more I love them. Now that I work from home, I wear something from INKnBURN almost every day of the week, whether I’m running or not. I’ve also been lucky enough to befriend Megan and her awesome husband, co-owner Rob, go see their amazing shop, and let them unknowingly half-support my addiction to high quality athletic clothing. (I say half-support because I’ve definitely made a few purchases of my own along the way.
Don’t tell my husband how many.)
I don’t have every item INKnBURN makes, but I’ve made an effort to gather most of their warm-weather items to make one big compilation review (my hoarding is for a good cause after all…see?). And for the sake of this review I even had hubby photograph me wearing the clothes. Oh, the sacrifices I make for my blog. Sigh.
I’d apologize about the photos, but you’ve had fair warning.
Why I Love Them
Before I get in to the meat of the review, I want to talk briefly about this company’s uniqueness. One of the major reasons I love INKnBURN is because of their pursuit of quality in both craftsmanship and design. Every single item of clothing that is sold to you from INKnBURN comes from their little manufacturing office right here in southern California. They buy bolts of expensive, high-quality fabrics and painstakingly press the designs onto each and every section of each shirt, skirt and short, through a process called dye sublimation.
The time it takes to create each piece is nothing like what you’d see in a typical large-yield manufacturing plant, and the end result is a truly well-made article of clothing with a design on it that was made to fit your shirt, in your size. Not to mention the design is “burned” into the fabric, so there’s nothing blocking the moisture-wicking effect or chafing against your skin.
Another great thing is that the care made to fit these articles is bar-none. It’s like they measured me for some of these clothes, particularly the skirts. Ever try on clothes at a mall store and wonder who the hell they were trying to fit? The proportions of some jeans are all wrong or you can’t get your arms through the sleeves of a t-shirt that should be your size? I hate that.
I also adore the energy and audaciousness INKnBURN puts into the artwork for their clothing. It’s nothing you’ve seen anywhere else (well, except maybe at a trail race, where you can pick out an INKnBURN fan by their richly colorful attire). They’ve got an amazingly talented in-house designer and a seemingly continuous string of new ideas to keep them going, so I’m pretty sure I’ll never get tired of seeing what they’ll come out with next.
I mean, for example: steam-punk t-shirts. Come on! Freaking awesome.
Living in New England, I pretty much never had any use for a short-sleeved shirt. Anywhere, really. I mean, it was either freezing and you were buried under seven layers of fabric, or stifling hot and you wished you were naked. Short-sleeve shirts never had much of a place because, especially when running, they contained just enough fabric to drive me nuts. If I ever wore a t-shirt running, I could be found stuffing the sleeves into the straps of my sports bra after about three minutes. Hated them.
But then again whenever I look at photos of people I know running, they’re usually wearing a t-shirt. So maybe I’m just a weirdo.
But the climate in SoCal is warm (not hot) and dry enough for me to appreciate the sleeved t-shirt again. Like a normal person. So I took the INKnBURN tech shirt out for a spin. The fabric is super light, you can’t even feel much on your shoulders. But it’s there, and it’s providing just that much more sun protection, which is nice for those afternoon runs when the sun is just leaning on you.
The cut on this shirt is very basic. Crew neck, regular sleeve length, cut to mid-hip. I felt the shirt was too short for my taste. Because I tend to wear tight-fitting bottoms running, I feel more comfortable in a top that’s long enough to hit the top of my thighs and cover most of my bum. So, unfortunately I was wearing a tank top under the t-shirt, so I overheated a bit from the extra layers. Might work fine in the winter, but not on a sunny 75 degree afternoon.
I hadn’t even mentioned this to Megan, because it’s just how most tech shirts are made, even all my race-acquired tech shirts are cut shorter than I like. But just this week I headed up to the INKnBURN office for lunch and lo-and-behold…they’ve changed the cut of their women’s tech shirts!
It was like some creepy magic ESP stuff was going on, or something.
As if reading my mind, they made the shirt a few inches longer than it was before, so now it falls exactly where all my favorite tank tops do. Also they widened the neckline, giving it a more feminine look. I dig the improvement, and the new cut will shortly be replacing the previous one.
Megan didn’t have a sample of the new cut in my size, but I took home one that was a size up and I’ve been wearing it all day. I am recovering from a sprain so I haven’t run in this shirt yet, but I can tell you that I already know the new cut solves my wear-ability problem, one hundred percent. And not having to wear an under-shirt brings a huge improvement on the breatheability of the shirt. It seems much lighter than most cotton t-shirts I wear.
The women’s tank top is made of the same material as the tech shirt, which is a super light-weight, stretchy micro-mesh. Megan gave me the tank with the iconic “Run or Die” graphic on it, which is pretty much the design that originally put them on the map. So bad-ass. Anyway, the tank is cut with a wide scoop neck and racer-back style. I’d say there’s probably a little more shoulder and back coverage than I’m used to for a tank top, and also it’s shorter, which I already talked about (at time of writing this I don’t know if they’re planning to lengthen the tank top as well). But the shirt still looks great over a running skirt and it kept me cool on a few great beach runs.
I can’t say enough about the INKnBURN running skirt. I have three now. I wear these things around the house, to the grocery store, to the mall, and on just about every run I go on, ever. After hanging out with me a few times, my friend Kate asked me if I ever wear anything but a running skirt.
The fabric of the skirt itself is a sort of criss-cross mesh, a little sturdier than the shirts. The compression shorts underneath are made of a slightly thicker spandex material, the kind of fabric that really holds on to you. If, like me, you’re not a stick figure, you’re probably wondering about the chafing factor. In the beginning of my run I will have to adjust the hem of the shorts here and there, but once I get going and start to sweat, the fabric stays put. In fact I ran a 50K in my INKnBURN Peacock skirt and had absolutely no chafing. The waistband is a nice, wide panel with a built-in elastic band that you can pull and tie tighter if necessary. This skirt tends to run a size large, so order down.
The skirt is a lot more substantial than all the others I’ve seen out there, with bigger pockets and more complex fabrics. Some have found the skirt to be warm, but truthfully I’ve never thought that.
Like their other clothing items, the INKnBURN running skirt costs more than most ($75). But I’m telling you, it’s worth it. After having spent so much time practically living in my INKnBURN running skirts, I have absolutely no problem spending the money on more. I feel this way about most items they offer, but more so with the skirt. You’re just not going to find anything more comfortable out there.
I almost didn’t try the shorts because I really don’t like running in shorts. I don’t like how they ride up and look bad, and I especially dislike the chafing. Well, these shorts are very short so you can’t avoid chafing. But if you’re good with the BodyGlide or have legs like a Barbie Doll then these shorts are pretty darn fantastic.
My first thoughts on these shorts is that they’re so light. So cool. It feels like there’s just nothing to them (probably because there isn’t – they’re very short!). But I don’t feel naked in them, either. The shorts are made of a similar material as the running skirt (although it feels a little lighter so perhaps it is), and they have a built in skivvy so you don’t have to wear underwear. They have the same wide, fold-over-able waistband that the skirt does, too. I prefer to leave the waistband up because I like my running bottoms to go right up to my waist. It’s good to have that versatility, though. I like the curved stripe design on the back of the shorts, too, it’s quite cool and flattering.
And for your information, the shorts do not run large like the skirt, so go ahead and order your regular size.
The newest craze over at INKnBURN is their “denim” line. They’ve got shorts, skirts, pants and capris now that have a denim print on them, which is pretty cool and truly convincing. Megan gave me a pair of the capris and they’re wonderful. They’re made of the same stretch fabric as the compression shorts they put under the running skirts. Same foldover waistband. But they look like jeans so if I wear them to run errands I don’t look like I just threw on a pair of yoga pants like a lazy ass. Even though I did.
The capris have a cool Asian-inspired design on them that’s in the same vein as their “Lust” design, as well as “pockets” in the back and front. There’s even a “button fly” at the front, which is so cute. There’s two generous (real) pockets in front for carrying stuff.
I found these pants to be longer than I’d expected. Most of the capri pants I like to run in stop just below my knee. As a result these feel more like running tights than capris, so they might be great for winter running. But right now I’ve mostly been wearing them to do things other than running, such as yoga, shopping, and paired with a cotton tee while I work all day at home and want to be comfortable. I look forward to running in them when the weather cools a bit. My friend Vanessa loves hers, and has even run a couple of ultras in them.
Again these also come true to size. You may find the waist band to be a little snug like I do, especially if you don’t have one of those tiny waists, so order the size you usually wear.
I’m not sure what else I can say about these athletic clothes. The cool people over at INKnBURN have gifted me with many of the items I talked about today, but I have been back to purchase more because I simply love them. I do want to point out that besides some test samples, I’m not being paid, befriended or otherwise coerced (not even with chocolate!) to write a falsely positive review. I walk around San Diego looking like an INKnBURN ad because I’m just a die-hard fan and I want to wear their clothes. The quality is there, the styles are growing by the minute, and I appreciate feeling like my hard-earned cash is going toward something that will last awhile. And I truly believe that a wider audience of runners and athletes deserve to hear about this company.
So get out there and wear some INKnBURN!