Runaway makes fine art accessible to all

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In the heart of downtown Durham lies everything from tasteful eateries, amazing art, and of course, chic and trendy shopping stores. New to downtown, but no stranger to the Bull City is Runaway, a local clothing line.

Mass communication senior Justin Laidlaw is one of the creative minds behind Runaway.

Laidlaw became Runway’s communications and media specialist a couple years after the brand was founded.

Mass communication senior Justin Laidlaw serves a customer in downtown Durham's Runaway store. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer
Mass communication senior Justin Laidlaw serves a customer in downtown Durham’s Runaway store. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer

Runaway was created by Gabe Eng-Goetz, a local visual artist and Durham native, in 2011. The store opened its doors to the public last April.

Laidlaw said the name Runaway came from Eng-Goetz’s experiences while traveling through Australia. “The idea comes from the idea of running away from convention and searching for something greater than yourself.”
Runway’s shop is decorated with paintings by Eng-Goetz and art from local artists.

The brand embodies a combination of fine art, street style and music.

“The idea behind a lot of the designs that Eng-Goetz created was to make fine art, which can be really expensive. An oil canvas painting can go from $2,000-$3,000 at an art show, but a T-shirt can go for about $26 with the same print on it,” said Laidlaw. “A lot of it comes from trying to make fine art accessible for people who want to be fans but don’t have a disposable income to pay $2,000 for a painting.”

Durham's Runaway store aims to make fine affordable. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer
Durham’s Runaway store aims to make fine art affordable. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer

The lifestyle brand also represents for those born and raised in the N.C. Triangle and for those who are into street-wear and hip-hop.

“We do a lot of designs focused on our upbringing here and our pride for growing up here,” said Laidlaw.

The DURM T-shirts are popular and one of their best sellers. The Runaway brand doesn’t just cater to Durham natives, but also to those traveling through Durham.

Runaway sells apparel, art, home décor and souvenirs such as mugs, shot glasses, beanies, and T-shirts.

Aside from art and fashion, the line also incorporates music and film.

The line aims to promote creativity and entrepreneurship.

“We do gallery showings for other artist, we host music shows and listening parties for musicians,” said Laidlaw. “It’s an arts company. We try to have our hands in every aspect of art.”

Laidlaw advises students who are thinking about starting their own line to take their time and not rush the process.

“There’s a lot of other components to running a business that you don’t even know are there until you run into them,” said Laidlaw.

He said it’s not as easy to come up with a design and get it printed on a shirt. There’s a lot more to the process, including the legal aspects, the cost of doing business, and management.

The Runaway store carries a variety of items, including apparel, art, home décor and souvenirs such as mugs, shot glasses, beanies. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer
The Runaway store carries a variety of items, including apparel, art, home décor and souvenirs such as mugs, shot glasses and beanies. Photo by Shakira Warren / Echo staff photographer

Laidlaw gave this final piece of advice: “Be authentic. Consumers are smart, and they can see through if you’re not being genuine.”

Runaway is located at 212 West Main St. Suite 102. Its online address is runawayclothes.com.

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