Ladue News Feature Stories

Lapping the Competition

The entrepreneurial game is full of makers who saw an aspect of the market they were unsatisfied with and sought to make better. One such creator is St. Louis native Daniel Shapiro, who wasn’t happy with the options being offered in the workout clothing market. As a result, the New York-based entrepreneur launched his own company, Fourlaps, about a year and a half ago.

Shapiro grew up in Clayton and attended Washington University in St. Louis. He had always been interested in retail, apparel and consumer products, so working for Gap, Inc. doing apparel merchandising came naturally to him. It wasn’t until later, though, that Shapiro began a more active lifestyle.

“I was thinking about the clothes I wear to the gym and how I wasn’t satisfied with what was on the market,” he says. “So many of the big brands were super heavy on the logos or only came in neon colors. I wanted to create a fashion-inspired brand for men.”

Shapiro thought about starting his own brand for a while but was nervous about the process and what it would entail. He moved to New York to work for Gap but ended up leaving the company in 2013 to start his own venture: Fourlaps.

The name refers to four laps around a track, equaling a mile, signifying what might be one’s first athletic milestone. With a motto of “start before you’re ready,” the brand encourages its customers to wear the clothing both inside and outside the gym, as well as for everyday attire.

“Fourlaps is changing the game with standout, thoughtfully designed workout essentials for men who aren’t willing to compromise on performance and style,” Shapiro says.

Although he had the concept down, getting Fourlaps off the ground was hard work.

“I had a large network of people, so the process [of creating Fourlaps] began by networking to find an agency to create the logo,” he says. “I also had to find a designer and a company to produce the clothing. I was working on production, brand and design all at the same time. These things always take longer and cost more than you expect.”

Fourlaps took about two years to come together and launched in August 2016. The line consists of T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, shorts, jogging pants, hats and even a duffel bag. Most of Fourlaps’ line hovers around the $50 price point, with a few products like the hoodies and jogging pants retailing in the $70-to-$80 range.

While some of the pieces are colorful, they’re mainly muted tones like grays, blacks and blues. Products like the best-selling Advance Short and sophisticated Dash Tank have captured the attention of renowned publications like GQ and Men’s Fitness, which, in 2016, called the brand “our favorite new apparel brand” and “an absolute game-changer,” respectively.

Customer feedback has also been “overwhelmingly” positive, Shapiro says, with customers showing enthusiasm for the independent brand.

“Color is always part of the brand, but we’re going to be [softer] about color in spring of this year,” Shapiro says. “We’re going to take this next line to the next level in styling, color and technology.”

Although Shapiro and his company are based in New York, some of the products are printed here in St. Louis – something that’s important to the Clayton High School alumnus.

“St. Louis is such a huge part of who I am,” he says. “Much of Fourlaps has been influenced by my upbringing.”

As the brand grows and evolves, Shapiro says he’ll be looking into doing some brick-and-mortar wholesale. As of now, though, the entirety of the Fourlaps brand is available only online.

Founding his own brand has been a learning experience for Shapiro, but already he’s taken away some key lessons.

“First, you have to trust your instincts,” he says. “Also, [the process] isn’t a sprint – it’s an Iron Man triathlon. You need to be able to think long term and short term. Sometimes things take a day, and other times they take months. It’s all about perseverance.”

With a solid, driven fan base and big plans for 2018, Shapiro and his athletic endeavor show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

This story was originally published at Read it on LN’s website here.

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