Get your ‘Durm’ stuff while you can -- Bull City apparel brand Runaway is closing

Runaway clothing store in downtown Durham will close in January. The company started seven years ago and sells the iconic “Durm” T-shirt.
Runaway clothing store in downtown Durham will close in January. The company started seven years ago and sells the iconic “Durm” T-shirt.

Get your “Durm” T-shirts while you still can. The Bull City apparel company Runaway will be closing in January.

First online and then with its own downtown shop on Main Street, Runaway rose up as the city’s revitalization took hold. It offered T-shirts with “Durm” spelled in the shape of a bull and a train and clothing that incorporated the city’s flag.

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an annual event in that draws thousands of filmmakers and fans, sold Runaway hoodies that featured a bull. And the Durham Bulls used Runaway designs, too.

The company’s website and social media announced the January closing with the headline: “Forever grateful. Forever running. Forever DURM.” It also included an illustration of Runaway folks depicted as characters from “Doug,” the early 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon.

“Runaway was born in a dusty basement with one goal; create the life we wanted to live, founded in our passion for clothing, art, music and Durham subculture,” they wrote.

“Don’t worry we’re not bankrupt or in legal trouble, it’s just time for our team to shift creative energy to chase dreams new and old,” the statement said.

One of Runaway’s founders, Gabe Eng-Goetz, already started a new artistic venture this year. You’ll see his art on giant banners when the new city parking garage at Mangum, Morgan and Rigsbee streets is finished in 2019.

Eng-Goetz’s design, chosen from five finalists, is called “Leading the Charge” and is a colorful depiction of running bulls and a girl leading them.

Runaway will still release a new clothing line — its last. Eng-Goetz told The Herald-Sun earlier this year that it will celebrate people and neighborhoods. They want to educate customers about the legacy of Black Wall Street and “to preserve that history so it doesn’t get washed away in all the money coming,” he said.

Runaway’s closing will also mean one less minority-owned business in downtown Durham. Less than 4 percent of downtown businesses are minority-owned, according to Farad Ali of The Institute (formerly NC Institute of Minority Economic Development) and 2014 data used by Downtown Durham Inc.

Justin Laidlaw models Runaway by Gabriel Eng-Goetz. Leigh Moose & Ozzy Ojito for Side Yard Studios

The final collection by Runaway will salute the “amazing place we call home,” leaders wrote. “This isn’t a sad goodbye, more of a drunken cheers to all the kids from Durham that make something positive out of nothing. The love this city gives is endless.”

Runaway’s winter runway show and after party will be held Nov. 30 at The Fruit, 305 S. Dillard St. downtown. Its store at 212 W. Main St. will be open until the end of January.

Justin Laidlaw of Runaway responded on Twitter to customers who are sad about the closing.

“The spirit of the brand will carry on in the people who joined us on this seven year journey. I hope that many others were inspired by our work and will continue to build the kind of Durham we want to live in,” he tweeted.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563; @dawnbvaughan
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