When the women and men who wore Quiksilver and Roxy in their teens and 20s grow up, what do they wear? Former Quiksilver president Bernard Mariette, who’s been chief executive officer of Canadian activewear brand Lolë since leaving the surf giant in 2008, is betting that he knows.
“I know these ladies, I’ve followed them my whole career. The Roxy girl who was 15 to 25 years old 25 years ago is our customer now. They’re not teenagers anymore; fashion is not as important to them as style,” said Mariette.
His company is now in a position to cater to them even more, and that includes the men. Coalision Inc., the parent company of Lolë and Paradox, has secured $18 million in cash financing from existing backers and shareholders Simon Equity Partners and Pelican Investment Fund, a management-based fund owned by Mariette.
Mariette, a well-known yoga business guru who worked alongside Quiksilver founder Bob McKnight from 1993 to 2008, plans to break with conventional activewear brands with the recent injection of capital.
“Our priorities are developing in the U.S. market, launching men’s and developing internationally,” said Mariette. “It’s an exciting time because we have the financial resources for hiring new players on the team and a vision that’s strong.”
Lolë, founded in 2002 in Longueuil, Canada as a feminine camping gear and outerwear brand, today comprises women’s activewear — yoga, swim, running — as well as outerwear, sportswear/ath-leisure and yoga mats and hard goods. Marketing-wise, it is best known for unifying communities by organizing free events focused on well-being which include physical activities mostly surrounding yoga, the brand’s primary fitness pillar. The brand’s largest experiential concept, coined “Lolë White Tour,” consists of multiple gatherings throughout the year, which have been attended by more than 50,000 people in cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Toronto and New York.
Mariette said the growth goal for the brand is to double the business in the next three years, with 30 percent growth coming from U.S. development, 30 percent from e-commerce and another 30 percent from the launch of men’s this fall.
Mariette sees the men’s business becoming about 30 percent of the overall apparel pie.
To handle the new business, Lolë will open U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles this summer, which will be home to a U.S. president, vice president of digital and several other sales positions.
While Lolë’s distribution is primarily wholesale and will remain that way, the company currently has 40 retail stores with plans to open 10 in the U.S. in the next 12 months, starting with Vail, Colo. this week followed by Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, this summer. “The idea is that the women who shop there will also buy pieces for their husbands or boyfriends,” he added.
“We’re a strong alternative to Lululemon or other wholesale people, but only one part of our line, the activewear competes with Lululemon. We also have outdoor product that can compete with North Face, Patagonia and Canada Goose, and there’s sportswear and ath-leisure around it.” Lolë sells about 400,000 yoga mats a year, and those and other hard goods represent 10 percent of the company’s merchandise, with apparel making up the bulk of it.
“From a distribution point of view, it’s a real strength that we are not just in one category,” he said.
“I don’t think we compete against Lululemon; we build the industry together. We compete against fast fashion. They have some good values, but they are different values. At the end of day, they push for heavy consumption and people waste things.”