Lululemon will go down in retail history as legend: the Starbucks of athleisure, they’ve profited incredibly off a trend they created and made exclusive. A few years ago it seemed Lulu couldn’t be eclipsed; despite controversy, leadership changes, and the Lululemon Murder they still perform well.
But a handful of smaller companies are giving Lulu a run for its money; two of our favorite disruptors are Alo and Outdoor Voices. This week we’ll introduce them, and next time we will examine the marketed cultures of each.
Alo—an acronym for air, land, ocean--was founded in 2007 by Danny Harris (CEO) and his partner Marco deGeorge. Mr. Harris sites his lifestyle as impetus to start the LA-based company, “We practice yoga daily. We eat organic. We're about minimizing social and ecological footprint…about this whole mindfulness, whether it be meditation or presence."
Alo focuses on making technologically advanced performance yoga clothing, and their IG feed is a lesson in modern marketing. They follow a strict yogis-only social media strategy: this means they shoot beautiful yogis working hard in gorgeous settings (many of these yogis are social media influencers with strong followings of their own).
The strategy’s working: Alo Yoga has its own e-commerce platform, two bricks and mortar stores, and is carried at Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Saks nationwide. Alo is also a cult celebrity brand favorite by way of Jennifer Garner and the Baldwin/Bieber/Hadid/Jenner set.
Outdoor Voices has a resonant philosophy: We believe in going out and Doing Things. Moving our bodies and having fun. Let's let go of our expectations, rules, shoulds and should nots. Let's have fun, be free, make discoveries, make friends, and make progress.
Founded by Tyler Haney (CEO) in 2013, the company designs and sells mens and womens athletic apparel and has a focus on activity and inclusivity. They sell online and at bricks and mortar stores, and they are incredibly successful.
Haney (a self-described tomboy) grew up playing basketball, soccer, and running track. She planned to run hurdles in college, but took a gap year and different path instead.
She graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2012 and started Outdoor Voices the next year. In 2014 J. Crew selected Outdoor Voices for its "Brands We Love" sections; soon after, Outdoor Voices opened its first store in Austin. In 2017 they received $7.5 million in investments to start an active apparel line, moved headquarters to Austin, and began collaborations with fashion blog Man Repeller, ClassPass (a fitness-class booking startup) and French fashion label A.P.C.
By March 2018 the company had Mickey Drexler (former CEO of Gap Inc. and J. Crew Group, Inc.) in place as chairman of the board, and raised roughly $57 million in funding (lead investor include GV (formerly Google Ventures), General Catalyst Partners, and Forerunner Ventures.
NEXT BLOG : A Look at Marketing, Culture, Profits…