“Born and raced in Seattle” is the motto prominently announced on a wall in Oiselle’s flagship store in Seattle’s University Village. Founder and CEO Sally Bergesen launched Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) in 2007. The flagship store opened in July 2015 just two miles away from its headquarters. This is a homegrown, local company fittingly named after the French word for bird. Oiselle wants women to soar. It specializes in athletic wear and strives to help women boost not only their health through athletic activities, but also their confidence. More than a retail store, Oiselle aims to be a hub for the local running community. Store manager Valerie Woods explained that they host Thursday evening “Flight Club,” where runners meet for a run. Everyone is welcome: Oiselle’s special Haute Volée members, new runners, men, strollers, four-legged friends, everyone. Woods said this open arms attitude helps boost “the culture we want to spread of inclusivity: anybody can run, we want you out there doing that, being active.”
Oiselle sponsored two athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which is incredible considering the company’s size. The beautiful and efficiently designed flagship store can transform to host events, like a viewing party for the Olympic races. Racks in the middle of the floor can be lifted up with a customized pulley system. Drawers on the perimeter can be tucked inside and folded out into seating and tables. The large Smart TV offers a crystal clear picture and high quality sound. When a race isn’t streaming on TV, it displays pictures of Oiselle’s biggest fans, a scrolling collage made possible by interactive hashtags. Take a picture tagged with #FlyStyle and you might end up in the photo show.
It’s easy to see why customers are enthusiastic. Oiselle’s apparel really delivers. Bergesen works with two in-house designers to create clothing designs. The longtime wholesale and online company has rightfully earned a reputation for attention to detail. They focus on a small array of great quality fabrics for each season’s styles. Woods explained the design philosophy: “[We] hone in on running and what our athletes need and want, and make sure it has this design quality that might once in a while crossover into a lifestyle piece.” She then invited me to touch the luxe fabric, which was silky soft and a real treat on the skin. And the fit? Incredible. Take the popular Roga Shorts (running + yoga = roga). They come in three lengths and various colors. The stretchy material lays flat in all directions, including over the hips. These shorts were clearly designed by women who understand the female form and an athlete’s needs.
More great finds include cool Aero tights with a sizable back pocket, eye-catching Spandos perfect for runners who like to stand out from the crowd, breathable Wazzie Wool shirts made from responsibly-sourced New Zealand wool, and the fun Drape tank made popular by runner Lauren Fleshmen. Many of Oiselle’s clothes can work double duty on the trail or at the after party. That’s a testament to the well-thoughtout design and functionality. There are also Runaway Bride running dresses, and Every Mother Counts (EMC) tees and water bottles. EMC is a joint venture with Christy Turlington to help raise money for moms who can’t afford prenatal care or access to birthing care. Forty percent of EMC merchandise profits goes to this great foundation.
Run out and visit Oiselle in person. They’ll even track your purchases in their system so you’ll always know your size and which colors you already own. Whatever your athletic endeavor, Oiselle can prepare you to soar.
2632 NE University Village St., Seattle