Outdoor Voices swears it isn’t like other athletic apparel brands.
Rather than teaming up with athletes, the brand got a big press boost when Lena Dunham wore the brand in an episode in this past season’s Girls. One of its key collaborations was with popular fashion blogger, Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller, pictured right.
Now, it just got a pretty big boost to help it further its mission: a $13 million round of Series B funding led by General Catalyst, the same company that led its Series A round and that has also helped back Warby Parker and Honest Company. Other investors in this round included Forerunner Ventures, Collaborative Fund, 14W, and Mark Vadon, who is the Chairman of online jeweller Blue Nile and the popular flash deal site Zulily. To date, the company has raised $22.5 million.
Outdoor Voices prides itself on being a brand that centres itself around recreation, not competition.
“We’re freeing fitness from performance,” CEO Tyler Haney recently told Business Insider in an interview.
“How do we help people be active on an everyday basis without feeling pressure for it?” She asked. “It’s really about making activity fun and social and participating together.”
The company has gained a lot of attention for the 27-year-old Haney, who founded the brand in 2013. She was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 this year.
Following graduating from Parsons, she said she saw a space in the market for a new kind of activewear.
“I was sick of shiny black spandex and the idea of disposable activewear,” Haney said to Business Insider, “the stuff that was bright neons and blacks and didn’t look like the clothes that I was wearing in my daily life like, A.P.C or ACME Studios.”
Over the past few years, the company has garnered attention as it’s grown.
J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons noticed the brand in late 2013, and in 2014, it became the first activewear brand ever sold at J. Crew. Its first full retail store opened in Austin later that year. There’s currently a temporary pop-up in New York, and a permanent store will open up soon, amid more plans for expansion.
The company’s style has earned itself a reputation as an athleisure company for hipsters and fashionistas as opposed to athletes.
It’s important for an up-and-coming brand to stand out, especially given how saturated the athleisure market is — there are more groups popping up by the day. But Haney believes that the market isn’t evaporating anytime soon.
“I don’t think activewear is going anywhere,” she said. “People are becoming more and more healthy and interested in maintaining their well being.”
Fortunately for companies entering the athleisure field, it remains one of the few categories that consumers are willing to pay a premium for. And brands like Lululemon, Under Armour, and Nike have managed to win over young customers by selling more than just clothes, but communities, too. Outdoor Voices is taking a cue from that, by having in-store events that are, appropriately, tied to casual, noncompetitive activity — like dog walks.
Despite the comparisons, Haney doesn’t believe that her company has any competitors. “There are different moments in someone’s life to wear these different brands,” she said.
She does, however, aspire to be as big as those other brands.
“We want to be like a Nike, Under Armour or a Lululemon but just with a totally different positioning,” she said.
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