In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Stefan Olander, founder & CEO of OMORPHO, a performance apparel company. Stefan explains how his time at Nike and own exercise experiences inspired him to create a better weighted vest. He also discusses how his fashionable microweighted garments won over athletes like Julio Jones and Annie Kunz.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at OMORPHO?
Stefan Olander: OMORPHO was created to put a stop to the common misconception that lightweight apparel is better for you when training. Instead, we’re revolutionizing training with micro-weighted Gravity Sportswear.
The groundbreaking collection, powered by “MicroLoad,” strategically places small amounts of weight across the body and is designed to make you fitter, faster, and stronger by adding resistance to key muscle groups without limiting natural movement.
Omorpho means “beautiful” in Greek, and our vision is to design beautiful solutions for all athletes. We’ve incorporated our deep knowledge from working with elite athletes to ensure fit and function complement the bold design. The end result is a Gravity Sportswear collection that moves in complete harmony with athletes’ bodies while providing unparalleled performance benefits.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
SO: Years ago, I participated in the “Murph,” a workout challenge that requires wearing a weighted vest. After completing the workout (which was no small feat), I couldn’t believe how militaristic-looking the vest was. More importantly, the weighted vest was extremely heavy and difficult to move in, putting undue stress on my joints.
I started imagining how to create a weighted vest that allowed for freedom of movement combined with an irresistible design.
After 21 years of working at Nike, I decided it was time to build something of my own and partnered with OMORPHO co-founder Ben Williams, designer Natalie Candrian, and developer Irena Ilcheva to develop the world’s best weighted vest.
As we started building the initial G-Vest, I was introduced to Erin Feser, Ph.D., a biomechanist who spent nearly a decade studying microloading, the effects of how adding small amounts of weight across key muscle groups when training provided significant improvement in performance. Her insights were key to validating OMORPHO’s unique value proposition.
We quickly realized there was an opportunity to create an entire sportswear collection featuring our MicroLoad concept—beyond just a weighted vest—and a huge market that was searching for this type of product. This was the start of Gravity Sportswear.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
SO: We knew from years in the industry that user testing is key before launching anything, so we spent two years developing prototypes that we tested with athletes from all levels.
The results were incredibly encouraging, so we proceeded to raise capital in order to build a world-class team, a robust supply chain, and a seamless platform. We launched OMORPHO in November 2021, and the consumer response has been amazing, with a highlight being a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 61.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
SO: The global sportswear market is massive. Though, there has been little, if any, functional innovation in the space for a very long time.
We believe our microweighted Gravity Sportswear could be the biggest innovation since compression apparel was introduced nearly 25 years ago. The collection helps athletes of all skill levels yield measurable performance benefits simply by changing what they wear when training, without having to alter their workout.
OMORPHO has partnered with some of the world’s best athletes (Ajla Tomljanović, Julio Jones, Alexander Mattison, Annie Kunz, Matthias Dandois, and more), trainers (Kirsty Godso, Claire Thomas, Julie ‘Jaws’ Nelson, Mandy DiMarzo, Eb Samuel), and fitness enthusiasts (actress Cynthia Erivo and dancers Brian and Scott Nicholson) to highlight its diverse training applications and fashionable approach to sportswear.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
SO: We aim to simplify the pursuit of a fit life for everyone from weekend warriors to fitness enthusiasts to elite athletes. Our core consumer is a fitness enthusiast who is tech-savvy and style-conscious.
Most importantly, they are looking for ways to live a fit lifestyle that doesn’t require additional time and undue stress to their already busy schedule. With the incorporation of MicroLoad in our Gravity Sportswear, OMORPHO amplifies the effect of any activity by providing just the right amount of resistance to get more out of every move.
To acquire new customers and continue growing the base, we’re leveraging our incredible ambassadors, live events, and use of social media.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
SO: We are incredibly excited to have seen consistent month-over-month growth since inception and have garnered incredible user and product insights during this time.
Later this fall, we will be introducing new product extensions, colorways, and a unique digital experience to complement our sportswear collection.
We are excited for what the future holds at OMORPHO and encouraged by consumers who have shared how their training and fitness have improved—without a gym or expensive stationary equipment—simply by changing what they wear.
Related reading from Fitt Insider:
Sportswear Maker OMORPHO Launches with $5M in Seed Funding
The Rise of Technical Apparel
If you’re interested in having your company featured in our Startup Q&A series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.