Sportswear Maker OMORPHO Launches with $5M in Seed Funding

OMORPHO

Portland-based sports apparel company OMORPHO launched after raising $5M in a seed funding round led by KB Partners, with participation from Bullish, Viking Maccabee, and others.

Its coinciding product debut, GRAVITY SPORTSWEAR, delivers an innovative line of weighted garments to an increasingly technical activewear market.

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Spearheaded by ex-Nike VP of global digital innovation Stefan Olander and joined by a group of nearly 20 execs with Nike ties, OMORPHO is bucking the trend of lightweight threads in the name of performance.

With weighted polyurethane microbeads dotting the exterior of tops, vests, compression shorts, tights, and more, the GRAVITY line can add as little as seven ounces and as much as 10 pounds depending on the garment — all while achieving a superhero aesthetic.

More than just style, sports performance is at the forefront. According to the company, this always-on resistance training has proven results, suggesting its apparel can lead to an increase in caloric burn by 8% and increasing work required by 6%.

Of note, women’s bike shorts are the cheapest item at $150, while a men’s weighted vest is $450.

But, with high-profile athlete-ambassadors like the NFL’s Julio Jones and Olympic heptathlete Annie Kunz, OMORPHO is taking a page out of WHOOP and Tonal’s playbook, where pricey elite performance tech trickles down to those seeking the high-performance lifestyle.

Technical Threads

With the activewear market expecting $157M growth through 2024, OMORPHO joins a host of other companies creating the threads of the future.

  • lululemon’s newest Lab collection features thermoregulating spacer layers, waterproofing, and airflow-enabling Swift fabric.
  • WHOOP (via WHOOP Body), Prevayl (secured $10.3M in June), and Cipher Skin (raised $5M in March) are leading the way on smart sensor clothing.
  • Researchers at MIT are pioneering self-ventilating performance fabrics made with reactive bacteria.

As the COVID-19 pandemic altered how we dress, emphasizing a function-over-formality preference that has normalized activewear well beyond the workout, our clothes are expected to do more.

Weight a minute. It’s important to note that OMORPHO is not the first to try to reinvent the weighted vest with lycra. TITIN, maker of weighted compression gear, showed promise in the early 2010s. The startup raised $100K on Kickstarter, then another $1M on Fundable before appearing on Shark Tank. Landing $500K from the show’s investor/personality Daymond John, the company reached a valuation of $2.5M.

But, after liquidity and inventory platforms, public disdain for the product from Mark Cuban, and a series of scandals from the founder, TITIN was no more.

Takeaway

The functional sportswear market is beginning to throw its weight around, but whether OMORPHO becomes novelty or need-to-have for high-performers may depend on how many professional athletes they can turn into evangelists.