In past years, there was no pressure on the Boston Marathon jacket. It just needed to keep the April chill off the runners.
This year, however, expectations for the humble zip-up are enormous, and designers and race organizers have spent months working to strike a balance between commemorating last year’s tragic events and moving forward with one of Boston’s most elite sporting events.
So far, early reaction on the eye-catching new design has been split.
The 2014 Celebration Jacket made its debut last week in Solar Zest, a fluorescent orange with contrast blue and white striping around the shoulders and across the back. Boston Athletic Association officials consulted with Adidas on the colors and design, which include an embroidered BAA logo with the words “Boston Runs as One” on the back collar. The saying is an evolution of Adidas’s “Boston Stands as One” motto conceived just days after last year’s Marathon bombings.
“The tragedy is beyond anything we can do for color palette or verbiage. It’s bigger than this jacket,” said Mikal Peveto, who oversaw all race apparel design as director of running for Adidas America. “We want to look back and be reverent, but it’s a new beginning.”
“The message is simple, loyal, and in unison. It’s perfectly put,” said runner and radio personality Sue Brady, who signed up to run for the Red Sox Foundation this year. “People recognize how important and how different this year is. It’s a privilege to run this year.”
Fashion expert Lydia Santangelo praised the “Boston Runs” sentiment (a percent of sales from the jackets will benefit the One Fund Boston), but gave kudos for the style components as well. The owner of TESstylist said bold orange, seen on Spring 2014 runways from designers such as Thakoon, Ralph Lauren, and DKNY, “represents happiness, success, enthusiasm, and determination.”
“People are going to argue about it being a little more traditional [here in Boston], but it offers promise,” she said. “I like to think the use of orange — and its positive, forward connection to all good things — can be used in a good way.”
But first-time runner Joe Ranft isn’t so sure. The 48-year-old cofounder of Cinch Financial questioned whether the embroidered logo deserved a place on the jacket at all.
“I don’t think [the BAA] should make such a statement,” he said. “Making a big statement on the bombing on the jacket almost, in a way, gives the terrorists a little publicity that they want.”
Ranft, who will run in support of the Brookline Teen Center, isn’t sure he will buy the $110 jacket, which is available at adidas.com. He’s seems to be in good company, given the stream of critical reviews at the sportswear company’s e-commerce site.
RunnergirlMichigan, who titled her review “So disappointing,” gave the jacket only one star out of a possible five, and wrote: “This will be my third and likely final Boston marathon. I ran 2013 and was one of the runners prevented from finishing. We were hoping the colors would reflect the meaning of the survivors, the experience, the trauma, the hope — and be in navy blue, red and white — both to represent the support of the country and matching the Boston colors. . . . This is an ugly design and color scheme and does not reflect what the 2014 Boston marathon stands for.”
But BAA spokesman Jack Fleming said he hopes the 36,000 runners — and the expected throngs of spectators who will cheer them on — will feel differently when all of the designs, including the forthcoming debut of the royal blue T-shirt and windbreaker handed out to runners and volunteers, respectively, can be viewed as a cohesive collection.
“People are going to be really happy with what they see when everything comes together on marathon weekend,” Fleming said. “It will be impressive.”
Jen Andruzzi is already excited and inspired. The executive director of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, who is running as part of her nonprofit’s team, received the Celebration Jacket as a gift from her staff for Christmas.
“It looks fabulous,” said the 34-year-old Mansfield mom. “I tried it on once, but I can’t wear it until the race.”