Athletic apparel start-up Outdoor Voices raises $34 million in latest round of funding
- Outdoor Voices raises $34 million in a series C funding round led by Alphabet's GV.
- Its total funding to date is nearly $57 million.
- The athletic apparel brand aims to open up more stores across the U.S
Athletic apparel start-up Outdoor Voices has raised $34 million in a series C round that brings its total funding to nearly $57 million.
The latest round, announced Tuesday, was led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), which has invested in names like Jet.com and Blue Bottle Coffee. Previous funding rounds have been led by General Catalyst and Forerunner Ventures, which are known for backing Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club, among other up-and-coming retailers.
"We're focused on building the No. 1 digital active brand," founder Tyler Haney told CNBC. "This definitely requires a physical presence. ... Doing things in real life definitely works and unlocks markets online."
Austin, Texas-based Outdoor Voices established its name online in 2014 and has since opened seven stores: two in New York, two in California, two in Texas and one in Aspen, Colorado.
Using its latest round of funds, Haney said the company aims to grow its store fleet across the U.S., "so that everyone can have their local O.V." She wouldn't count out having 50 stores in the future, one in every state. By the end of 2018, Outdoor Voices plans to open five more shops.
Key to the company's success has been its large and growing following on social media. It boasts more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, along with a long list of influencers serving as brand ambassadors. That list includes celebrities like Harry Styles, Natalie Portman, Frank Ocean and Gwyneth Paltrow and Olympic skier Nina Lussi.
"We have a very diverse cast of characters who believe in the O.V. mission," Haney said.
One of those believers also happens to be Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J.Crew and Gap. He now serves as the chairman of Outdoor Voice's board, which also includes Nicolas Jammet, the founder of the fast-growing salad chain Sweetgreen.
"We speak to [Drexler] almost on a daily basis," Haney said. "He's really focused on retail with us. ... He has incredible pattern recognition, so we can get ahead of things."
Haney wouldn't call Outdoor Voices "the next Lululemon," though it's often billed that way.
Later this year, Outdoor Voices will roll out new categories on its website tailored toward various exercises, beyond running. Shoppers will find gear built with specific movements in mind and will be able to browse by sport.
"We are a true activity and sports company," Haney said. "We really want to focus our assortment, instead of relying on [so many] legging options. ... I think a lot of the shopping experience can get complicated when you're not sure what to choose for what activity."