Is Outdoor Voices In Trouble?

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AUSTIN, Texas — Tyler Haney, the founder of US athleisure brand Outdoor Voices has stepped down as CEO amid rumours of spiralling losses.

Despite raising over $60 million from various investors, including Forerunner and General Catalyst, and generating annual sales of approximately $40 million, the business is said to have suffered losses of $2 million per month in 2019, according to Business Of Fashion

The closure of the brand’s office in New York, in November, as well as the firing of key members of staff, also point to troubles behind the scenes. However, the brand is yet to comment.

Launched in 2014, Outdoor Voices mission to free fitness from performance anxiety and bring play back into wellness has built the brand a loyal community of customers, attracted significant venture funding, and facilitated the growth of a thriving e-commerce business and expansion into brick and mortar across the US.

As we reported in our 2020 Consumer Wellness Trends Report, by creating a new narrative around wellness, the brand had proven that it is possible to spark positive behaviour change and in turn engage new customers. 

For 31-year-old Haney, the goal to create a brand that would sit alongside market leaders such as Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armour seemed within reach. But despite the startup’s apparent growth, last year it found itself struggling to raise further investment, and no sooner had Nike and Under Armour veteran, Pamela Catlett joined the company as president, she exited. 

According to BOF, challenges rooted in merchandising were also to blame for its struggles, with the brand failing to create enough products that resonated with a mainstream audience. Despite a relaunch of the brand’s best-selling Exercise Dress, which retails for $100, and the launch of all-black workout sets, to compete against the likes of Lululemon and Nike, the brand still needed to carve out a more identifiable space for itself. 

Board members and investors remain confident that the Outdoor Voices concept does have the potential to scale if it can engage the mass market, but as more and more brands eye up the activewear category standing out for the crowd is only going to become more difficult.

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