Runaway Clothes


designed by Runaway Clothes

Looking at the Runaway Clothes collection, it’s impossible to tell they’ve only officially been in business for about three months.

“It’s been an aspiration of mine for a long time,” said Gabriel Eng-Goetz, a native of Durham who studied illustration at Syracuse University, after graduating from Jordan High School. “It’s a process, but you’ve just gotta go in and put everything on the table.”

Runaway Clothes is a company with that hip, Nuevo, southern metropolitan vibe seen from other up and coming designers, promoting a street feel of independence, creation, and rebellion that seems to come hand and hand with well done, graffiti-inspired designs.

Although some of Eng-Goetz designs certainly hone in on the widely felt Durham vibe, he also takes inspiration from many other outlets. His sophisticated and detailed illustrations, and his constant thirst to do more, are what make the label different, setting it apart from others like it.

After studying illustration at Syracuse University, he spent time in Australia. It gave him an opportunity to witness first hand the ways street art can make social change and commentary accessible and unavoidable, and also how it can be expressed in new ways.

“Sydney, in particular, has a prevalent street art scene,” Eng-Goetz, who also took inspiration from street crossing signs he came across while overseas, said. “While living and walking through the city, I was exposed to this growing scene and the social impact it can have.”

Eng-Goetz creates a balance of play, technical skill, and imagination in his designs, giving wearers a chance to wear a statement without emblazoning it on their chest in stark, harsh, billboard-like manner. For instance, the ‘Prime Cuts’ tee, a map of historic Durham neighborhoods viscerally showcased in the jigsaw cuts of the infamous bull. In the ‘Southern Summer’ illustration, a half melted Rocket popsicle comes shooting out of your childhood memories. The ‘Lonely Drifter’, a silhouette of a young boy tagging a wall with Runaway’s logo, highlights the label’s graffiti influence and reads like a modern day The Boxcar Children promotional flyer.

The image of a train and the ideas that come along with it have had a wide influence in provoking the sparks that feed many of Runaway’s designs, and not just on his Durham shirts. The philosophies of old train hoppers in constant transit, running away from convention and literally living in motion lends to the movement away from convention and societal norms Runaway’s designs are sparked by.

After doing some time in the gallery scene of the art world after college, Eng-Goetz has found this collection to be the most fulfilling. He wanted to take his message and his work directly to the people. He recognized that the gallery scene was cost prohibitive for some his most fervent fans.

“A t-shirt is a piece of art, but it also goes to a bigger audience,” he said. “It more interesting sometimes to show your art on a different level, in a different way.”

Showing up on many different levels isn’t something that Eng-Goetz will be stopping anytime soon. Some of Runaway’s collection already appears in the swanky local gift boutique Morgan Imports, as well as the cute and kitschy, Vaguely Reminiscent on 9th Street. Between an upcoming new collection with more cut options and styles available for women (and men) due out in late October, his recent shirt designs for Durham-based band LiLa, and other upcoming collaborations, we can only expect to see more from this transient inspired, exciting new line. To view the collection, visit, and for more work from the artist, Gabriel Eng-Goetz, go to

Cady Childs is renown for her rapier wit and sharp eye for fashion. As our Creative Director, Childs pulled off great event after great project, from our own Fashion Drive-Bys which Childs styled to reFASHIONED Durham where she crafted a line of clothes, her endeavors have been par excellence. She has covered everyone from LiLa to the Carrack to Runaway Clothes for the Clarion Content.

Be first to comment