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Women’s Running Shorts: A Comparison

September 30th, 2011

For nearly a decade, a single short has dominated the women’s run apparel industry. The Nike Tempo Track Short is the queen of running shorts; women of all shapes, sizes and abilities adore it, some so faithful that they refuse to wear anything else. Through the years, the Tempo has taken on over 1500 color combos and hundreds of prints, from tie die to stripes, checkers to polka dots. Other running brands have tried to confront the Tempo “craze”, but they have ultimately been unable to draw attention away from the hoards of colors and the incredible following that the short maintains. (There are entire walls of tempo shorts in many retail stores, and even a blog entitled “Confessions of a Tempo Addict”).

In some ways, the success of the Tempo Short is peculiar – it’s very basic in shape, fabric and features. In other ways, it’s no wonder that it has won over the hearts (and purses) of so many female runners: the fit is forgiving and generous, not to mention that it’s reliable and always available, with 20+ colors and prints to choose from during any season. Women need not “shop”, they can simply “buy”.

Priced at $30.00 MSRP, the Tempo is clearly a price-point buy. But Tempo-mania goes far beyond that, and it is likely to continue given that Nike is offering some 50+ versions of the short for the Holiday season alone.

Fascinated by the dominance of such a simple short, we decided to do a comparison between the Tempo and its competitors. Interestingly, when put in a line-up among other 3”–3 ½ ” running shorts of similar price and style, the Tempo didn’t pan out where expected.  According to an in-house survey of 5 different shorts, a Saucony short actually out-did the Tempo in all 3 areas of criteria: Fit, Fabric and Aesthetics.

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