Oros, a Portland, Ore.-based technical outerwear brand, has received $14.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Elizabeth Street Ventures and Enlightenment Capital. Also participating in the financing are entrepreneur Thomas Tull, the chairman of Snap Inc.; Michael Lynton, and Brandon Shainfeld, among others.
The brand is known for using innovative insulation technology to transform thermal materials into technical fabrics that it then uses for its apparel collection. Its website touts its jackets as the warmest jackets on earth. In 2015, it patented Solarcare insulation, a material that is based on materials used by NASA and protects against extreme cold. In 2022, it will unveil a new, lightweight insulation product, once again based on technology used by the space agency.
“Who would have thought that the same science used to insulate spacecraft at -450 degree Fahrenheit could keep you warmer than a bunch of goose feathers? Astronauts,” Oros writes on its website. “NASA’s groundbreaking aerogel technology is the foundation of our patented Solarcore insulation. This earth-shattering material combines the unparalleled thermal properties of aerogel with the flexibility of foam to create the warmest, zero-bulk gear on the planet.” Its parkas retail for $480 or $440 and the brand also offers jackets, vests, pants, leggings and accessories.
The capital will allow Oros to refine the new material, create new apparel products and invest in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility outside Boston where it will convert recycled fiber into a thermal performance fiber and create garments using 3D engineered knitting, the company said. The plant will also allow Oros to customize machinery, equipment and engineering processes and sustainably scale production.
“Since day one, Oros has endeavored to transform insulated apparel, using only the best materials and technologies – some of which have been developed with exclusive access to NASA IP and have been used for their most demanding applications in space,” said Jeff Nash, chief technology officer and vice president of product at Oros. “I’ve been in the industry for decades, and Oros is completely doing things differently. I strongly believe we’re on the cusp of something groundbreaking: recreating the category of insulated products for the industry.”
At the same time, Oros said Rachael Ulman, a 20-plus-year veteran of digital retail, a partner at Elizabeth Street Ventures and founder of 27 Edge, a consulting agency, will join its board of directors.
“Since meeting Oros’ founders, Michael Markesbery and Rithvik Venna, several years ago, I’ve been amazed by the potential of their advanced materials science technology for the apparel and accessories market, but also for the broader insulation industry,” Ulman said.
In addition, industry veteran Hap Klopp, who is best known for acquiring The North Face in 1968 and running it for 20 years, will serve as board observer.
“What energizes me about Oros is its unique approach to building products,” Klopp said. “Oros is not imbued with the same beliefs that traditional outdoor companies hold, such as the idea that thicker outerwear means better outerwear. Oros has shifted the paradigm, owning an entirely new concept in which thinness can be equated with warmth. The brand’s ability to take an existing idea and flip it on its head is what excites me most about working with them.”