After three years honing its collection within the men’s wear arena, Qor is now taking the plunge into women’s.
The California-based e-commerce brand that counts Mickey Drexler among its investors, launched in 2014 with a line of “everyday active” men’s wear intended to perform at both the gym and the office.
Its founder and chief executive officer is Joe Teno, the former ceo of Athleta, which was sold to Gap Inc. for $150 million in 2008. Teno’s chief merchandising officer is Kelly Cooper, who had been Athleta’s vice president of merchandise, design and product development and the others on the team are also Athleta veterans.
“We started to design and build this 12 months ago,” Teno said of the women’s line. The initial collection encompasses 22 pieces and includes long and short-sleeve tops and tanks, dresses, a blazer, sweaters and a selection of tights. Additional styles will be added for spring.
“They’re all designed to mix and match so it gives the impression that there’s more than there is,” he said.
The women’s had a soft launch on the Qor web site in mid-September and Teno said that while it’s still too early to get a full read on the collection, “we have orders for every one of the 22 items so that gives us confidence.”
Teno, whose background includes L.L. Bean and TravelSmith, said Qor opted to start with men’s wear “because we have a passion to help guys be more active. But since we started, we’ve had an overwhelming number of requests for women’s wear both online and at our warehouse sales.”
Teno believes that Qor’s focus on providing product that is comfortable and fashionable but with technical attributes sets it apart from the other brands in the market. “We wanted something that is broadly appealing to the very busy woman and gives her what she would need for her active life,” he said.
“Life is busy and being active is key to enjoying it, so we set out to design premium apparel that is made for motion,” Teno added. “Our women’s collection is designed to move with consumers through life with comfort and ease. We wanted to create attractive, fashionable styles that support an overall active lifestyle; most of which can be worn everywhere: from work, to yoga, or travel.”
Teno said that since Qor launched in 2014, “the business is growing and it’s in a great place. Whenever you start a business, you offer variety and let the customer weigh in and then tailor the assortment.”
He said top sellers in men’s in terms of units are the Powerdry T-shirts, which retail for $49, and the merino wool shirts. “Customers have really embraced our merinos,” he said. The performance blazers and the Hike Bike pants are also popular, he said.
For women, he’s expecting big things from the cashmere hoodie, which retails for $228, as well as the merino blazer for $198.
Qor will continue to be sold only through the company’s e-commerce site and in its catalogues — the brand currently produces 5 million catalogues annually.
To promote the women’s launch, Qor will “ramp up our social media advertising and promote to our existing customer base,” he said.
In addition to Drexler, Qor’s lead investor is Bippy Siegal, founder and ceo of Raycliff Capital, who put together a group of other high-profile investors including John Howard, ceo of Irving Place Capital. Board members include Bill End, the former ceo of L.L. Bean and Lands’ End, as well as Bruce Willard, the former ceo of Sundance Catalog.