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- Janji is a Boston-based running apparel brand with a mission: working to bring awareness and provide aid to communities that lack access to clean water.
- Its men’s and women’s collections are inspired by the cultures, textiles, and colors found in countries affected by the global water crisis. Janji donates 5% of every sale to clean water initiatives in those countries.
- It’s new Spring/Summer 2019 collection is inspired by Cambodia. I tried a few pieces from the men’s collection, as well as the older Bolivia collection, and found them to be great for working out, running, and wearing casually.
- While some of the styles are more expensive than comparable pieces from sportswear giants, the quality is better — and it supports a great cause.
Water: It’s the foundation of life as we know it, and essential to our survival. Still, even as the most vital resource on earth, many of us take it for granted.
What should be treated as a sacred gift from the planet we share is often thought to be infinite and always on tap for everyone. We take hour-long showers as a de-stresser, flush toilets after every single use no matter what, and toss half-finished water bottles because event venues rather we spend money inside. These wasteful luxuries illustrate just how privileged, and perhaps unaware, we really are.
Even if it doesn’t affect your life on a daily basis (or ever), access to clean water is an issue that millions of people all over the world face. While one organization can’t solve the problem on its own, a startup called Janji is doing its part to bring awareness and provide aid to the crisis through an unconventional method: running.
Janji creates collections of running apparel for men and women that are inspired by countries affected by the global water crisis, and then donates 5% of proceeds to clean water initiatives in those countries.
We first wrote about the Boston-based running apparel brand last year when it released its Uganda collection. Now, the brand is back with a new collection for Spring/Summer 2019. This time, Janji landed on Cambodia, a former Communist nation that’s steadily growing and improving its infrastructure, as the subject of the collection.
I got to try some of the men’s styles from the newest collection and talk to its founders about how they’re using running to make positive changes around the world, why they chose Cambodia for its latest collection, and what initiatives the new collection specifically supports.
If you’re more interested in learning about Janji’s products than the story behind them, you can scroll down to my review of the clothes themselves towards the bottom of this post. Otherwise, you can keep reading to learn more about Janji’s mission.
Running is a universal sport. It has the ability to break down cultural barriers to unite athletes from all over the world. Unfortunately, a lack of clean water, which is essential to hydration, can keep athletes in impoverished areas from reaching their full performance potential or from simply running for the love of the sport.
Runners at heart, Janji founders David Spandorfer and Mike Burnstein wanted to change that for other runners and anyone else that need clean water.
"Running can help you explore, connect, and to really create substantial change — be it in yourself or in the world around you," Spandorfer told Business Insider. "Running is something that most of us can do, it’s something that can forge connections, and we think it’s the single best way to see the world."
Taking inspiration from and providing aid to Cambodia
Once Janji selects a country to design a collection around, it works hard to highlight that country’s triumphs, beauty, and culture through its designs. "We chose to work with Cambodia because of its rich heritage and inspiration," said Spandorfer. It’s a country with a fantastic art scene, vibrant cities, and beautiful parks. The country has been growing since the dark days of the Khmer Rouge, but still has unexplored areas that venture off the beaten path."
In Cambodia specifically, Janji has partnered with Clear Cambodia, a non-governmental organization that works to improve the health of rural Cambodian communities through increased access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education.
"Clear Cambodia is making a massive difference across Cambodia using BioSand filtration systems, resulting in clean, pathogen-free water at a low cost," Burnstein told Business Insider. "It’s exciting to think of the impact Janji’s community can have through our partnership with the organization."
The brand’s principles alone are commendable, but after wearing a few pieces from the new Cambodia collection and the previous Bolivia collection, I can say that Janji is more than just a good cause. I found the crewneck sweatshirt, shorts, and T-shirt I tried to all be comfortable and of great quality.
Keep reading to find out my full thoughts on the pieces, below:
Circuit Crew Pullover
Of the three pieces I tried from Janji, the Circuit Crew Pullover was my favorite. It’s a distinctly sporty runner’s garment, but it has a style that’s fitting for casual wear, too. The sweatshirt is made from the brand’s proprietary HI-2-Low knit, a fabric made from a blend of cotton, recycled polyester, and elastane for stretch.
My favorite part about the sweater is the large side pocket for travel. A lot of sportswear brands try to incorporate storage compartments, but very few have one large enough for a passport or, at least, more than a pair of headphones. I found it large enough to hold my large iPhone Xs Max and my car keys when I was at the gym. Features like this and the reflective logos on the back are also a clear indication that the piece is designed with the traveling runner in mind.
I also love that the crewneck is able to tell part of Cambodia’s story through the color. The haze color, in particular, is a washed-out green that’s inspired by the usually misty skies over the Angkor temples.
Runpaca Short Sleeve
The Runpaca T-shirt is one of Janji’s best-selling designs — and the new Cambodia collection got a special-edition treatment. Inspired by Southeast Asian Batik textiles, this Runpaca features a hand-painted dot print that symbolizes raindrops.
The shirt itself is made from soft Pima cotton and hypo-allergenic, odor-resistant alpaca fleece. The blend of materials is naturally moisture wicking and temperature regulating and provides a comfortable next-to-skin feel. Some T-shirts have a rough, slightly abrasive or itchy feeling that can become increasingly uncomfortable with movement, but that is not the case here. My workouts consist of some running and lifting and I was comfortable the entire time.
The garment isn’t pre-shrunk, so you should be careful with washing it in hot water or drying it. It’s best to use cool to cold water and lay it flat to dry.
7-Inch Chiller Shorts
I decided to go with the 7-inch Chiller Shorts from the Bolivia collection because they’re a bit longer than the other versions in the Cambodia collection. While $64 seems like a lot for shorts, I think they’re well worth it.
They come with built-in boxer brief liners that have hidden quad pockets on each side. The design is comfortable, useful, and eliminated two issues for me — having to readjust my underwear and shorts after each movement and having to worry about stuff falling out of my pockets while working out.
While people who typically work out in the gym can easily lock their belongings in their car or in a locker, they’ll serve a greater purpose for outdoor runners who need to carry essential items like a phone, wallet, and keys.
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