On Our Radar: Outdoor Voices

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We have been casually obsessing over the anti-fitness, fitness brand, Outdoor Voices, from a distance for longer than we would like to admit. Maybe we just think that we are totally like soulmates and they are totally killing it when it comes to making beautifully articulated performance apparel for people that don’t want to look like they just came from the gym. Please note the subtle color harmonies and ’90s-inspired crop-top sportsbra.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Voices, known simply as OV, Tyler Haney, known simply as Ty by friends and colleagues, has always been attracted to the concept of casual activity. If you’re wondering, jogging, yoga, swimming and hiking all fall under the umbrella of casual activity. In mountain towns, much like beach towns, life tends to revolve around being outdoors. From socializing to business meetings, long days usually start and end outside. When Ty headed to NYC to become a student at Parsons New School, naturally she found it difficult to shake her love of the outdoors and her need to be active outside. Coincidentally, she also found it challenging to find athletic apparel that she could relate to on a visceral level. So, after a few brainstorming sessions with her partner, Andrew Parietti, Outdoor Voices went from being an incubated idea to a serious solution.

What separates OV and the other “macho” fitness brands in the market? Other than being manufactured domestically in Los Angeles from innovative performance textiles and bringing in a visionary designer with a portfolio that includes stints at Calvin Klein and T by Alexander Wang, it’s is pretty simple. It boils down to accessibility. According to Haney, “We are more interested in catering to ‘recreation’ than ‘working out.’ Rather than sponsoring professionals or super hardcore athletes, we want to sponsor people who are active, but not defined by it. We are approaching activity with moderation, with ease, with humor and with delight. We are uniquely positioned because we are so in touch with and directly connected to people our age. We want to bring in social elements, so for example, one day a week our team does Pilates, one day we do yoga, and one day we do the OV joggers club, which is a three-mile jog we do before work. It is about mind and body, and being thoughtful about health and wellness, but not in an over-the-top way.”

Social media plays a huge role in the growth of the brand because they rely heavily on a compelling visuals and artwork to tell their story aesthetically. “The content we are producing is so different than what is out there, and that is really why people are starting to notice us. Our Instagram is really our strongest point of conversation right now and that is because we are able to show more of the OV world that inspires us as we build it out. All the imagery is about the body, but thoughtfully cropped and artistic,” notes Haney.

In addition to being picked up by J.Crew for an exclusive partnership for Holiday 2014 and Spring 2015, Outdoor Voices has just opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Austin, Texas with plans to expand to NYC. The Austin outpost serves as a home base for the brand and its growing community by offering “indoor/outdoor spaces where group runs start and end, and where people want to hang out after their exercise.” Plus, from a biz dev standpoint, since there are no real active brands based in Austin, they will be providing a fresh alternative to a city that is teaming with tacos and vintage, but is slim pickings when it comes to active-specific, lifestyle stores. It sounds like a win-win to us.

Check out more from Outdoor Voices here, and if you are in Austin anytime soon, make sure to tell them who sent you.