With Lululemon brushing a $7.4 billion valuation in public markets, there’s no denying that so-called “athleisure” wear is a huge business.
As with any multi-billion dollar industry startup investors are looking for a piece of that action, which is why investors are pouring $7 million into the new athletic and leisure wear company Outdoor Voices.
With offices in both Austin and New York, Outdoor Voices is working hard to establish itself as a contender in the burgeoning market of athleisure wear (replete with the necessary spread in lifestyle sections of national newspapers).
The brainchild of 27-year-old designer Tyler Haney, who serves as the company’s chief executive, Outdoor Voices was founded in 2013 as a way for Haney to integrate her passion for casual fitness (a hallmark of her Boulder, Co. upbringing) with her design aspirations.
“I was always an athlete growing up, running track and playing basketball, but never resonated with the credo to be ‘faster, better, stronger’ that so many major activewear brands are built around,” says Haney. “Activity isn’t necessarily measured by performance, it’s social and fun. I started Outdoor Voices because I wanted an activewear brand that really celebrated approaching activity lightheartedly.”
Shortly afterward, Haney brought on Andrew Parietti, a consultant with a boutique agency, as President and the two were off to the races.
The company wrapped up a small $1.1 million round in April and began laying the groundwork for a nationwide expansion.
Previous investor, General Catalyst, led the latest funding with participation from Forerunner Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and 14W.
Now, with the fresh financing in tow, the company says it will look to expand with new brick and mortar locations, build out its staff and continue to bring new clothes to the market. It’s first expansion beyond Austin (the current site of the company’s only storefront) will be a pop up shop in New York opening in November.
Already, New York is the company’s biggest market, followed by LA and San Francisco. Austin, the home of the company’s only storefront, is its fourth biggest market for online sales. The bulk of sales come from online sales.
Outdoor Voices makes its clothes at factories all over the world, including Hong Kong, Portugal, Turkey and even Los Angeles (shades of American Apparel without the specter of Dov Charney).
As part of the expansion of its product line, Outdoor Voices is taking a page from services like Trunk Club, Birchbox, et al. by putting together curated bags of workout clothes that it calls OV Kits.
Outdoor Voices isn’t alone in its attempt to knock Lululemon off of its perch atop the athletic wear mountain. Fabletics, the Kate Hudson-branded subsidiary of billion dollar startup JustFab, has also built a reputation around chic athletic wear that’s for more than just workouts.
Still Haney and her co-founder know their demographic and their target customer, because they are the target customer.
“The average age of customer is the average of our team, so there’s an inherent understanding of our customer,” says Haney. “I started Outdoor Voices to make clothing for myself and my friends—people who are active but not necessarily defined by that activity—and our customer is really just a broader representation of that.”
Here’s a sample of the company’s clothes: