Activewear upstart Vuori is now worth $4B, following a $400M investment from SoftBank.
The deal comes in the wake of several big activewear bets:
- Wolverine Worldwide bought women’s activewear brand Sweaty Betty for $410M in August.
- Levi Strauss and Co. added Beyond Yoga to its portfolio for $400M in late September.
- Gymshark is exploring a public offering after a $300M investment valued the company north of $1.3B last year.
All in on activewear. “It is clear that activewear is the key apparel story in 2021,” says senior sports industry adviser Matt Powell. Boosted by the pandemic, analysts found that the category accounted for 40% of all online sales last year.
This market, however, is as saturated as it is popular. What sets Vuori apart?
The Vuori Factor. Founded six years ago, the coastal Californian brand has largely flown under the radar. But when the pandemic hamstrung retail, Vuori outmaneuvered other brands, nearly tripling revenue, and has since amassed a loyal following.
- The brand employs a diverse mix of sales channels, from wholesalers to DTC, helping it pivot when buying habits shifted from brick-and-mortar to laptop.
- Following store closures, Vuori quickly reallocated retail talent, training “omni-associates” to support ecommerce in areas like customer service or online returns.
Outside of pandemic resilience, Vuori differentiates in core capacities:
- Performance-wise, Vuori rivals industry leaders like lululemon, but with a nondescript twist — sleek, functional quality and cozy comfort sans flashy logos.
- Eco-forward, the brand is uniquely positioned to tap into the sustainable activewear craze (keyword searches for the term are up 151% YoY).
- Like Nike, the company infuses technology into everything it does, from informing digital consumer engagement to guiding fabric construction.
Plotting its growth, Vuori is hiring top talent and plans to expand from 10 to 100 physical locations by 2026. Investing in influencers, the startup recently partnered with LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne, the most-followed collegiate athlete across all social platforms.
Punchline: As indie activewear brands tap into fast-growing niches like women-focused and sustainability, they’re steadily gaining on industry incumbents. Ahead, fusing its DTC prowess, operational agility, and environmental leadership, Vuori is on track to grab a hefty slice of the expanding activewear pie.