Outdoor Voices has had its share of drama over the past several months: its founder and chief executive officer Ty Haney stepped down, employees were terminated, offices closed and the valuation of the once-high flying company had plummeted from a reported $110 million in 2018 to $40 million earlier this year — and that was pre-pandemic.
An Outdoor Voices spokesperson said the company had no comment on the state of the business or its future plans.
But despite its struggles, the company is continuing on the path that had led to its early success, creating a community of athletically minded customers who embrace an active lifestyle and subscribe to the company’s motto of “Doing Things.”
The next chapter in that story is a collaboration with the high-end U.K.-based cycling brand Rapha, which has created an Outdoor Voices-specific collection for women that will launch today. The Rapha + Outdoor Voices collaboration marks the Texas-based brand’s entry into cycling kits. Eight pieces are being offered: a sports bra for $70, a jersey for $150, a wind jacket for $180, cargo bib shorts for $250, high-waisted padded shorts for $110, a cropped T-shirt for $40, socks for $20 and a bar bag for $80.
Rapha, which was founded by Simon Mottram in London in 2004, is known for its technical, highly functional — and expensive — cycling apparel. While a partnership with Outdoor Voices seems a bit of a reach for the brand, Calais Zagarow, director of brand marketing and strategic initiatives at Outdoor Voices, said, “Although our end product might be a bit different, the missions and values of Outdoor Voices and Rapha are very much in line. Both brands are invested in creating high-quality, long-lasting product that equips and inspires our communities to move their bodies. Plus, in our opinion, Rapha produces the most beautiful and functional cycling apparel out there. Our customer trusts OV to create the best possible apparel for re-creation and is willing to invest in our pieces knowing they look great, perform and last. Sometimes we look to best-in-class partners like Rapha to help educate us on what we don’t know, which in this case was a dedicated outfit for cycling.”
Maria Olsson, head of design at Rapha, said the collaboration product offers the same fit, fabric and features as the rest of the company’s product line. “Collaborating with Outdoor Voices from a technical point of view was not different at all,” she said. What was different was the design.
“There are a lot of preconceptions of what cycling kits should look like,” she said. “We wanted to break that and not compromise on quality. As a result of the partnership, she said, there are a lot more “playful pieces.”
Zagarow said the two companies worked together from the outset to create a truly collaborative collection. “Both of us had clear value to bring to the project in solving for the best possible women’s cycling gear — Rapha more on the technical on-the-bike essentials and OV more on the female-specific needs, like the supportive, easy-to-layer Apex bra, and unique color-blocked design aesthetic.”
The brands opted to offer only women’s because cycling is generally perceived as a male-dominated sport, Zagarow said, “sometimes alienating women who participate by not championing female cycling heroes and not offering apparel that is designed for their bodies. We saw an opportunity to come together and create a collection that would inspire and empower more women to get on the bike.”
Outdoor Voices attracts people who participate in a variety of activities including figure skating, cross-country skiing and power-walking, and cycling, both for commuting and competing, “is definitely part of that activity landscape,” Zagarow said.
Olsson said the U.S. is one of the fastest-growing markets for the Rapha brand, especially since the company launched a trail/offroad collection. “We want to expand in the U.S., particularly in the women’s market,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential for us there and hopefully this will help raise awareness.”
Although there are no plans to continue the collaboration at this point, both brands said they’re open to working together again in the future.
Over the years, Outdoor Voices has collaborated with brands including Peloton, Hoka One One, Madewell and Teva while Rapha has partnered with Paul Smith, among others.