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Respect Your Universe.

It’s a simple enough sentiment — one we, as the millennial generation, likely identify with more than ever. When it comes to our careers, our hobbies, the companies and products we love, the well-being of (and future of) our universe is a driving value that constantly guides our actions and aspirations. It’s also the driving principle behind the latest athleisure company to trickle over from the West Coast and hit the Toronto Market: RYU Apparel.

RYU Apparel has opened its doors at 361 Queen St W, a welcomed addition to the Queen West/Bathurst hub that is already home to lulu lemon, Titika Active Couture, Adidas Originals and other athleisure brand favourites. RYU aims to inspire the urban athlete within Toronto’s city walls and beyond — both through means of technical athletic and training gear, and the initiatives they’ve put in place for local trainers, athletes, entrepreneurs, businesses, fitness establishments and more. They believe that being respectful is a way of life, not a tag line, and that the only tough thing should always be your training.

Leading up to their grand opening, WHISTLE scored an invite to their launch party — a night spent checking out the store space, sipping on custom cocktails or beer, and chatting with health and fitness trainers, influencers and educators from every niche and segment. Modern, sleek and urban, RYU has a wide variety of training and athleisure staples that are as comfortable as they are fashionable (seriously, I’m currently wearing a pair of their joggers and I am obsessed). The colour scheme ranges primarily from light grey, to charcoal shades, baby blues and navy, and classic black — with a few graphic patterns thrown in here and there to mix things up.

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It only took a lap or two of the store for me to find myself deep in conversation with a man who I later realized was, in fact, the owner of the company. His passion for the industry was more than apparent, as he earnestly listened to my friends and I explain our role within the health and fitness industry here in Toronto.

I think, if anything, that’s what struck me most about the brand — the genuine and entirely unpretentious conviction that the owner, and all of the employees and brand connectors, embodied as they spoke to their collective vision coming into downtown, Toronto. There is no denying that the athleisure market is a competitive one, but no one affiliated with the RYU brand seems to be worried about that, at all. Rather, they are genuinely here to connect with the citizens of Toronto, and provide unrelenting support and appreciation to those individuals and businesses who have a positive impact on the lives, health and fitness of others, and the well-being of our community and Universe. An entirely fierce and wholesome entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well within the brand, and that is an element which I have no doubt will serve the company well as they evolve within the city.

Speaking of community, RYU is currently hosting a #RYUOneMoreRep Challenge in which they are using the simple action of an iconic kettlebell swing as their “symbol” of support, to bring awareness to mental health care around the world. Take the challenge and tag your friends — you can do it at the gym, at home, or even at a Kettlebell Rep station in every RYU store. Their goal is 1 million reps by midnight, November 30. Click here to learn more.

If you’re looking for a new favourite stop on your activewear shopping hit-list, or you’re an influencer or trainer looking to get familiar with a new, awesome fitness brand in the downtown core, definitely check out RYU Apparel.