“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 Volée members, new runners, men, strollers, fourlegged
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,
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