Monica DeVreese knew this day would come. When she launched rabbit alongside fellow runner Jill Deering eight years ago, she never wanted rabbit to be apparel alone. She always envisioned a more comprehensive running brand that would – someday – include performance footwear.

That day is almost here. On June 5, rabbit officially launches its first-ever footwear model, the Dream Chaser. 

“Worlds collided at the right time,” says DeVreese of the Dream Chaser’s arrival. “We had the capital and the right team and partners in place to put the necessary pieces together.” 

Rabbit’s entry into the footwear game follows a similar move by another running apparel brand, Tracksmith. In late 2022, the Boston-based brand known for its high-end apparel brought its distinctive New England aesthetic and penchant for premium materials to market with the release of its first running shoe, the Eliot Runner.

Now, it’s rabbit’s turn to make the apparel to footwear leap.

Building A  Brand

DeVreese is a self-described gear junkie, a fascination cultivated during a prep running career in which she accumulated state titles on the oval and tracked the latest sneaker releases. After college, she worked at Garry Gribble’s Running Sports in Kansas City, diving into the run specialty deep end while simultaneously pursuing an accounting career at a startup airline. 

But with Gribbles’ insistent encouragement, DeVreese entered the running industry ranks instead. She landed a RaTS (Running adidas Technical Sales) gig with Adidas, venturing from Indiana to Colorado to Oregon over a seven-year run with the Three Stripes before moving to a position with Deckers in 2003. That same year, she teamed with her husband, Joe, to open Santa Barbara Running in the coastal California city.

A decade later, as she and Deering lamented the lack of running apparel that looked, felt and fit amazing, they concocted plans for rabbit – a performance running apparel brand “without the hype and fuss.” After two years and one $45,328 Kickstarter campaign, the duo introduced rabbit.

The California-based brand found an immediate home in running stores across the U.S. and its business soared, including five consecutive years of double-digit sales growth. 

About 18 months ago, DeVreese felt the itch to add footwear – to provide runners optimal solutions from head to toe. Rabbit had penetrated the run specialty marketplace with apparel and DeVreese felt there was room for an everyday running shoe designed “the rabbit way.”

“The thing I feel rabbit does well is we find these little white spaces in the market that have opportunities for a better experience and build with that in mind,” she says.

Forward Into Footwear

To create the Dream Chaser, DeVreese first corralled the help of former Deckers colleague Stuart Jenkins, the man who played a major hand in bringing a novel, upstart brand out of France called Hoka One One into the Deckers orbit. 

“He’s a crazy mad shoe scientist,” DeVreese says of Jenkins, who steered innovation at Deckers from 2010-2016.

Jenkins, who was involved with his own entrepreneurial venture – insole company Blumaka – helped DeVreese formulate plans for rabbit’s debut running shoe and connected rabbit to a development team in Asia capable of overseeing on-the-ground execution. 

As DeVreese puts it, the Dream Chaser’s design language is simple: “Everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

True to rabbit’s premium materials focus, the Dream Chaser blends a hugging, soft knit upper comprised of recycled polyester with a highly cushioned ETPU midsole the brand labels Flowstate Foam. The midsole also includes a patent-pending technology called Carbon Trax — parallel carbon fiber panels in the shoe’s midfoot devised to provide stability and keep runners “centered.” 

Throughout the development process, the rabbit team focused on hitting a premium out-of-the-box feel, which DeVreese, given her 20-year running retail background, understands is valuable to captivating customers on the sales floor. To supply out-of-the-box comfort, the Dream Chaser features contoured Blumaka insoles made from 85 percent recycled ETPU. DeVreese says customers can expect a livelier feel from the insole, which is guaranteed to last 10 times longer than the competition.

“The insole is among the most important parts of the shoe, yet it is often overlooked and a place where many cut costs,” DeVreese says. “The insole’s an example of how we’re always going to pay attention to the details.”

Taking On The Big Brands

With the Dream Chaser, rabbit brings a carbon fiber story to the max cushioned trainer category, where it will complete against the likes of the Brooks Glycerin, ASICS Nimbus and Saucony Triumph. While those models are established heavy hitters, DeVreese is optimistic the Dream Chaser will resonate.

“It’s an exciting time for running footwear,” she says. “The barrier to entry is not easy, but running retailers are accepting of innovation and recognize they need to stay fresh and cutting edge.”

Paul Epstein, owner of Running Wild stores in Pensacola, FL, and Fairhope, AL, will carry the Dream Chaser at both of his stores. After seeing the model at The Running Event late last year, he placed his order, impressed by the model’s visual look and step-in comfort.

“I’m pretty confident someone will look at it and want to try it on, especially if they’re a rabbit apparel customer,” he says.

At The Long Run in Knoxville, TN, co-founder Ethan Coffey reports the store had secured numerous Dream Chaser pre-orders through early May. He attributes the early enthusiasm to rabbit’s reputation as well as the model’s crisp look, which heightens its versatility. 

“A lot of people are turned on by rabbit apparel already, so they’re hitting the ground running in that regard,” Coffey says. “And on our end as retailers, we know their history and feel confident they’re going to deliver on their promises.”

After the “soft launch” of a special blue-and-yellow Dream Chaser colorway in conjunction with the Boston Marathon last April, rabbit is ready for its full-scale launch this month. The brand intentionally targeted the release of the Dream Chaser’s three men’s and women’s colorways to about 40 select retail partners. Next spring, rabbit will open up orders to all retail partners, whom DeVreese calls a critical cog in rabbit’s brand strategy and evolution.

“We’re always listening and learning at retail, and we’re committed to growing and building with our retail partners,” says DeVreese, who also teases the development of a trail shoe. “Following our path with apparel, we’re going to make product with a purpose, finding white spaces and filling voids.”