NEW YORK, United States — Activewear brand Outdoor Voices has appointed Millard “Mickey” Drexler as chairman of its board of directors following a $9 million convertible note (a debt round that is converted into equity at the next round of equity funding) led by Drexler.
The announcement follows Drexler's decision in June to step down as CEO of J. Crew after 14 years. Drexler, who was succeeded by former West Elm president Jim Brett, launched Drexler Ventures earlier this year to advise and invest in young companies. Along with his new role at Outdoor Voices, he continues to work with J. Crew in the capacity of chairman and retains a 10 percent stake in the company.
Outdoor Voices, which was founded in 2014 by Tyler Haney, first worked with Drexler when it was sold at J.Crew as part of its "Discover" programme. "I have been impressed with Tyler and Outdoor Voices since day one," says Drexler, who prior to J. Crew, led radical turnarounds at Ann Taylor and Gap. "The product and the larger community she’s built around Outdoor Voices is incredible."
"Mickey is an expert at building teams and a fantastic leader," Haney tells BoF. "Having him on Team OV gives us an incredible resource of knowledge and experience when it comes to building the next great activewear brand."
Outdoor Voices has gained traction in the activewear market since launch: in 2016, it received $13 million led by investors including General Catalyst Partners (also investors in Snapchat and AirBnB) and Forerunner Ventures, which allowed the brand to expand into retail: Outdoor Voices has opened five stores across the US in the past year, with locations in Manhattan, Aspen and Los Angeles.
The brand is on track to quadruple growth in 2017; the latest investment from Drexler will enable the brand to open two new retail outposts this year, with more planned for 2018. It also enables the brand to continue investing in fabric innovation and product development. It will also ramp up the digital experience, launching a virtual kit shop to create custom outfits: 70 percent of the brand's sales are done online.
Its point of difference from other athleisure players is in its design: Outdoor Voices follows a distinctly muted colour palette, favouring hues of navy, grey and black, following more closely garments the wearer would actually wear in real life. As such, the brand has earned itself a level of fashionability not seen across other brands, and has previously partnered with cult French label A.P.C. (A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou is also an investor in Outdoor Voices) and the influencer Leandra Medine on limited collaborations.
Editor's Note: This article was revised on 24 August, 2017. A previous version of this article misstated that 40 percent of the brand's sales came from kits. This is incorrect.