Fourlaps, one of New York’s freshest athletic apparel brands for men, is the brainchild of Clayton native Daniel Shapiro. Here’s how the WashU alum went from selling clothes at Banana Republic to starting his own “game-changing” company.
First things first: Tell us about your St. Louis connection.
I was born and raised in St. Louis. I went to Clayton High School and Washington University. I haven’t lived in St. Louis in 17 years, but the city and people have a very special place in my heart.
How did you end up in New York starting an athletic apparel brand?
It was a long journey. I’ve always been interested in consumer behavior, clothing and fashion. I worked for Banana Republic in college and loved selling clothing. After college, I went to work for a consulting firm in St. Louis and then a series of startups in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
The last startup I worked for did a lot of work for retailers. I thought I’d start my own apparel company then, but a close family friend advised me to get some experience. I was living in San Francisco at the time and went to work for Gap Inc. I spent about eight years there, working in various roles with the Gap and Old Navy brands.
At the end of 2009, I left to work for American Eagle in Pittsburgh. While there, I began working out a lot and became frustrated at the lack of athletic apparel with great styling and colors — a lot of over-designed products in neon with big logos and lots of seams. I started conceiving the brand then.
In 2013, the Gap hired me again in New York. It was a challenging year for me personally and professionally, and at the end of it, I left my job and took a long trip to Australia and New Zealand. When I came back, I decided the time was right to start Fourlaps. I stayed in New York because it’s a great place to start a company. There’s so much creative energy here.
What sets Fourlaps product apart?
We create functional athletic apparel with a unique styling point of view. Clean lines, bright optimistic colors and minimal logos. We design everything with a guy’s lifestyle in mind. What that means is that our products are great for the gym, the court, the street and everywhere in between.
You’ve gotten some good press. Tell us how that has impacted your brand.
We were featured in the January issue of GQ, where they said Fourlaps was their “favorite new apparel brand.” After the GQ piece, our orders and brand recognition definitely increased. It’s a big deal to get an endorsement from one of the most respected men’s fashion publications. We were really honored.
Both Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness have covered Fourlaps. The credibility factor of the brand is important when attracting consumers, so getting press coverage from esteemed publications like these helps to solidify that.
Finally, Debra Bass from the St. Louis Post Dispatch recently wrote a piece about us. She said Fourlaps was “not only wearable but unintimidating and covetable.” It was great to get such nice coverage from my hometown newspaper.
Where did the name Fourlaps come from?
Fourlaps comes from the four laps around the track that it takes to complete a mile. Fourlaps isn’t about your first mile, it’s about what happens after that. It’s about accomplishing your goals and moving forward.
So, what’s your sport?
I played water polo in high school and wasn’t great at it. I prefer a combination of several things. Cross training, pilates, yoga and the StairMaster with the real stairs — you can’t cheat on that thing. I lived in San Francisco for 10 years and would spend a bunch of time outdoors. Lots of weekend hikes with friends.
How often do you make it back to St. Louis?
I get home at least three times a year but usually four. It feels great to be home, and I love spending time with my parents and friends.
How does your connection to St. Louis impact your brand?
Many ways. Growing up in St. Louis, it’s always part of you. From a business perspective, I work with STL Style to create my signature tees and hats. It’s nice to have a connection with St. Louis above and beyond just being from there.
Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain magazine.