“The Next Lululemon” Raises $34 Million
Outdoor Voices (OV), an “activity and sports” brand, raised $34 million in a Series C round; led by Alphabet (GOOGL) owned GV. The company will use the capital to expand its “physical presence” (currently has 7 stores, to add 5 more in ’18), believing brick and mortar retail (and hosting events nationwide) will help them to “unlock markets online.” Often referred to as “the next Lululemon”, the digital first company has been able to stand out in a crowded athleisure sector by developing a loyal social media following (200,000 followers on IG) and effectively using pop-culture influencers (see: Harry Styles, Frank Ocean), as brand ambassadors.
Howie Long-Short: Outdoor Voices’ direct-to-consumer online platform and the R&D behind their “technical apparel” is what’s drawn the interest of venture capitalists. To date, the company has raised $56.5 million; with General Catalyst leading the prior 3 rounds. In August 2017, former Gap and J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler was named Chairman of the Board; Drexler is credited with turning Gap into a “global megabrand” in the 1990s.
Fan Marino: 2017 was a milestone year for athleisure, as “women’s elastic knit pants” outsold blue jeans for the first time. While sales of blue jeans have been on a steady decline since 2010, at an average annual rate of 3.9%, it’s been the fast rise (avg. of 25.7% per year) of elastic knits that have enabled the versatile pants to overtake the American staple.
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