With news this week that NYC/Austin based active wear fashion house Outdoor Voices raised a further $7 million to propel the company towards world domination, it appears the athleisure movement is here to stay. At least for a while. Everyone from Tory Burch to Adidas is going after a piece of the casual wear pie dominated by $7.4 billion Lululemon.
Outdoor Voices makes technical apparel that is “designed for lives spent on paths, fields, streets, and everything in between”. OV sells pretty much everything you can think of as active wear from leggings and sports bras to hoodies and sweats. For those overwhelmed by choice, OV also puts together kits featuring all the essential gear needed for a certain activity—nothing more, nothing less—nestled into a custom tote and sold for 20% off the retail price.
You won’t find bright neon colors or crazy prints throughout any of the collection. According to OV founder, Tyler Haney, the focus in on “grays, and a more minimal, less-macho performance aesthetic”. The whole brand is about approaching activity with moderation, ease, humor, and delight.
The company does not sponsor professional athletes nor fitness gurus of any kind, instead choosing to focus entirely on “recreationals” and building a community through social and direct-to-consumer sales.
What can the outdoor industry learn from the athleisure movement, if anything? Is it really that much different from the outdoor set wearing Chacos to their wedding or puffy coats to the bar? You could argue that much like us, the fitness consumer sees working out not only as a hobby but also as an all-around lifestyle. Should outdoor brands move away from sponsored athletes and instead focus on building communities of weekend warriors? Do we want them to? Could make for an interesting debate.
I still can’t get away from this image whenever I hear the word athleisure, however, especially after seeing a group of young women last night eating gourmet pizza and drinking expensive wine at a restaurant in their activewear.