Monday, May 17, 2010

Vertical Athletics - Superstar Top Review

Author's Note: If you're looking for high-performance base layers, but you don't fall into the "tall" category (or even if you do!), you'll want to check out my Icebreaker review, recently posted over at the Wilderness Running Company. Check it out here!

The moment I saw the Vertical Athletics booth across the room at the Lake Tahoe Marathon Expo, I was drawn like a magnet towards the sign that read, “For Women 5’8” and Above, and Men 6’2” and Above.” Running clothes for tall people? I was in love before I even saw what they had to offer.

To be honest, I don’t consider my five feet, ten inches to be unusually tall. Yes, I’m tall, but I’m not that tall! Nonetheless, my biggest complaint about most clothes, and athletic clothes especially, is the length. I’m always sizing up to large tops when they are long-sleeved, and I am definitely not a size large. I just can’t stand sleeves that don’t come all the way down over my wrists, or shirts that allow cold air to tickle my belly while running.

So when I found myself fingering all the clothes at the Vertical Athletics booth, I was in heaven. Finally, someone made clothes to fit me!

Vertical Athletics was started by volleyball player and renaissance woman Renee Krieg, who found herself with my same fit challenges and decided to do something about it. She designed Vertical Athletics clothing specifically to meet the needs of tall athletes. The garments aren’t just longer, they are specifically designed for tall, athletic men and women with appropriate knee, elbow and waist placements.

When I spoke to Renee at the LTM Expo, she told me that she was 5’11” and she sized herself as a medium when designing the clothing line. I tried on both a small and a medium in the Superstar Top, and ended up going with the small. You will definitely have to reconsider your usual size when shopping at VA! Fortunately their website has a helpful size chart. The pictures with each product also tell you the height of the model and the size he or she is wearing, so you have some idea of what a size medium looks like on a woman who is 6’1” (or whatever the size-height combination is).

Before the Kokonee Salmon Trail Run in the Superstar Top. (Not the best shot to show the top, I know, but I hate the modeling poses!) I'm on the far left with the pigtails and the red top. See how it has plenty of length in the waist and the sleeve comes down over the top of my hand? I love that!

In addition to creating high performance clothing, one of VA’s goals is to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Many of their garments use Cocona fabrics, which are made from coconut shells and offer excellent moisture and odor management. (I have a number of shirts made with Cocona, and I really like them.) Other environmentally-friendly fabrics offered by VA include Eco-P.E.T. Tech Fleece and Organic co

The Superstar Top, which I happily purchased at the LTM, is your basic, high-performance, long-sleeved running top. I could have chosen a medium, but I prefer more of a slim-fit. Even in a size small, I had plenty of room in both the torso and sleeves. It’s made of Eco-Drytech with Cocona fibers, and it performed beautifully for me all winter, both as a stand-alone top, and as a base layer under a jacket. It dries quickly and resists odors. I made sure to keep it out of the dryer to avoid shrinking, and it has maintained its fit perfectly.

Currently, the Superstar Top is on sale at VA, but with limited sizes. The top has been redesigned as the Superstar Improved, with a lighter-weight fabric and slightly lower neckline, and you can find a full selection of size and color choices in this one. If you’re looking for a great, all-around workout top, I think this is the one to get! VA also offers a colorful array of popular headbands, as well as short and long-sleeved tops and pants for both men and women.

Post-LTM in the Superstar Top

Renee’s own story is enough to make the company intriguing. A competitive volleyball player, she was also a platoon Sargent in the Army, as well as a top sales consultant for both Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Pre-Paid Legal Services. She then studied Apparel Manufacturing at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA. From there, she designed and launched her own clothing company, Vertical Athletics. I can only imagine that with such a diverse array of experience, talent and hard work behind it, Vertical Athletics is destined for success. I hope so, because I can’t wait to see what new, beautiful clothes they come out with!


  1. Ha! I remember that first photo! :) I also recall that you were telling us in the car on the way over about how much you loved this clothing line and I was immediately intrigued! I also have the same problem with wrist length- maybe not so much because I'm overly tall as just because I have monkey arms. Headed to the site now! Thanks for sharing Gretchen~ I'd forgotten the name of it.

  2. I am only 6'1 and I just posted about niche clothing too...there's a huge market for us outliers!

  3. Thanks for the awesome review Gretchen! I'm about to have a big sale next week so anyone looking to get one of these tops (men or women) They will be marked down to $35 next week. The extra long unisex running tights will also be marked down for the first time ever. Thanks for spreading the word! Have an awesome summer :)

  4. don't buy from this company. It sucks. They won't deliver. It's all about them, and not about the consumer. I ordered a headband for my daughter 2 weeks ago. It was promised to be here in 7 days. 2 weeks later, still not here. There is no phone number on customer service to call, but they certainly took my money. I have emailed 3 times now asking for a tracking number and to find out what is going on, still no reply. I would NEVER recommend them. Looks like they are buying themselves new volleyballs with my money. Very classy.