Oros Brings Together Space Age Science and Fashion in $ 240 Billion Sportswear Market – Forbes
“Imagine a technology that allows a consumer to wear a long-sleeved shirt that will keep them warm … [+]
Photo by Nicole Schmiedl for Oros
The fashion industry has been forced due to the pandemic. As an industry that thrived on novelty and style for personal expression, fashion consumers suddenly expected more from the clothes they wear. They demanded comfort and performance first. Less important was the fashion that looks great on the outside, but the fashion that feels great and is good on the wearer.
Consumers have found the answer in the larger global sportswear market, with sales of $ 240 billion, which McKinsey has classified into three sub-segments: sportswear / sports-inspired clothing (40% of the total market). ), performance (45%) and outerwear (15%).
Of these, athleisure / sports-inspired clothing saw the strongest growth, with CAGR growth of 3.9% from 2019 to 2023, compared to growth of 3.1% in the other two categories.
“The boundaries between sportswear and classic clothing are becoming less and less clear as sportswear brands introduce everyday styles and general fashion brands that incorporate performance fabrics and venture out. in sports, ”explains McKinsey’s“ Sporting Goods 2021 ”report.
The report adds that while traditional fashion brands take advantage of shorter development cycles, sporting goods companies are “well positioned to innovate in design and materials, and strike the right balance between usability and comfort.”
Oros Apparel is located at the interface of innovative materials that offer more user-friendliness and comfort. At Oros, founded in 2013 by self-proclaimed science buffs and outdoor sports enthusiasts Michael Markesbery and Rithvik Venna, science comes first.
Listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2018, they used airgel technology developed by NASA to insulate spacecraft and developed patented Solarcore insulation for clothing.
Solarcore has been tested and found to be the warmest insulating material in the world without most traditional insulating materials like goose down. The result is ultra-slim, body-conscious fashion that works in sub-freezing temperatures.
First introduced in outerwear that can withstand a jet of liquid nitrogen (-321 ° F) and maintain an internal temperature of 89 ° F, the company’s Orion Park and Endeavor ski jackets are its products. headlights. But the company has applied the same technology to a wide range of sportswear for men and women.
CEO Markesbery has identified three main categories for the company’s product lines: super tech clothing competing with Nike ACG (all-weather gear) and The North Face Black series; Raised sportswear like Lululemon; and Progressive Outdoor, which outperforms Canada Goose in heat without the bulk, not to mention the price. Her Orion Park is $ 440 and Endeavor is $ 480 in male and female silhouettes.
“Oros sits in the middle of these three categories from a product design standpoint,” says Markesbery, adding that while its cutting-edge clothing offerings generate the most revenue, its premium sportswear products have been the fastest growing category over the past three years.
“In the near future, premium sportswear will eclipse the outerwear category,” he confidently predicts.
This is because Oros is currently developing a revolutionary insulation technology that is incorporated into the fabric itself and not added as an insulating layer like Solarcore, no matter how thin it is.
“Imagine a technology that would allow a consumer to wear a long-sleeved shirt that would keep them warm in sub-freezing temperatures,” Markesbery teased.
While he kept the details of the next NASA-inspired hardware innovation close to his vest, a new $ 14.5 million Series A funding round, led by Elizabeth Street Ventures and Enlightenment Capital, will be used to build new. product line slated to launch in 2022. It is also being used to open a new manufacturing facility in the Boston area that uses the latest 3D knitting technology to dramatically reduce waste.
“Traditional clothing manufacturing uses patterns to cut fabrics that leave up to 20% fabric waste on the factory floor,” says Markesbery. “With our 3D knitting technology, we will eliminate this process so that there is no waste, which is extremely important from an ecological point of view. Additionally, the entire supply chain of all fiber garments using this next-generation technology will be entirely in the United States for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the new funding round, Oros will be supported by a carefully selected team of managers, board members and consultants, inspired by the company’s technological advancements and its vision of the paradigm shift for the category of sportswear and outerwear.
At the top of that list is industry veteran Hal Klopp, who made The North Face the brand it is today.
“Oros is not steeped in the same beliefs that traditional outdoor businesses do, such as the idea that thicker outerwear means better outerwear,” Klopp said in a statement. “Oros has changed the paradigm and offers a whole new concept that combines thinness and warmth. The brand’s ability to turn an existing idea upside down is what excites me the most about working with it.
Another alumnus of The North Face, Jeff Nash, who served as director of advanced products and materials there, is the chief technology officer and vice president of products at Oros. Alistair Hather, who was previously a senior designer in the Adidas Future team, and Grace Jehan, vice president of brand marketing, who comes from Athleta, where she was senior creative director and before that, creative director at The North Face, work alongside him as Apple Design Director.
And Rachel Ulman of Elizabeth Street Venture, who is joining the board, is an expert in digital retail credit. His resume spanned four years at Walmart E-Commerce, two years at Amazon and president and chief operating officer of digital native shoe company Greats, which was acquired by Steven Madden, and years as consultant for retail and consumer brands, including the founder and CEO of 27 Edge based in New York.
With the new round of funding and a world-class team, Markesbery is confident that the NASA-inspired Oros vision of taking another ‘giant leap’ in keeping people warm without bulk will be realized.
To date, the sale of its existing line of Solarcore insulating fashion products directly to consumers via the Internet has grown successfully. Convince them that a long-sleeved shirt can do what only a coat can do before it’s all gone.
So far, Oros has tested a pop-up store early last year, but the Covid pandemic has shut it down. The company is gearing up for a stronger local presence, including another attempt with pop-ups, as well as retail distribution in Japan, which now generates around 10% of sales. “Japan is an emerging market for outerwear and technical functional clothing,” he says.
To showcase the paradigm shift in the next generation of Oros products, Markesbery will draw heavily on the creative expertise of VP Marketing Grace Jehan. With a fine arts degree paired with professional creative work for over 20 years, she will provide Oros left brain corporate culture with the right brain creative vision to bring the next series of innovative products to market. .
Markesbery doesn’t reveal how she’s going to do it, but hints, “Grace’s go-to-market strategies and how she’s going to express this paradigm shift to consumers is really cool. Fortunately, we have smarter people than me leading this consumer education, ”he concludes.