Former Nike Executives Start Weighted Workout Clothing Label
(Bloomberg) -- Former Nike Inc. executives are starting an athleticwear company that makes workout clothes heavier, instead of lightweight.
The company, called Omorpho, is making gym clothes with micro-weights built into the garments to provide more resistance while working out. The business is led by 21-year Nike veteran Stefan Olander, who served as the sneaker giant’s head of digital innovation, with products designed by former Nike designer Natalie Candrian. Its backed by investors including venture capital firm KB Partners and Viking Maccabee Ventures, which is led by Mason Plumlee and partners. Other former Nike executives are also involved.
A group of athletes and celebrities have joined as equity partners, including the NFL’s Julio Jones, tennis star Ajla Tomljanovic and actress Cynthia Erivo, who will promote the sportswear in ads.
Specialized brands for training have become more popular. Crossfit favorite Nobull, for instance, has amassed an endorsement lineup for its shoes that are designed only to be used in the gym.
“We think this is an entirely new category,” Olander said in an interview. “All the apparel that’s being built for sport is built for competition, but most people spend 1% of their time competing and 99% of their time preparing or training.”
Olander and his staff have spent the last three years testing products and doing research on athletes before making goods available to the public. Omorpho’s collection of shirts and leggings, called Gravity Sportswear, swerves away from a trend toward lighter garments used by companies like Nike, Adidas AG and Lululemon Athletica Inc. The concept is to load the clothes with resistance without affecting natural movements like a clunky vest or belt would.
Upstarts like Omorpho have flocked to Portland, which is a sportswear hub anchored by Nike’s nearby headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Adidas and Under Armour have a major presence in the area and startups, incubators and design firms have multiplied.
At Nike, Olander worked on initiatives such as its partnership with Apple Inc., the FuelBand activity tracker and training club app.
Omorpho’s clothes will be sold online and management is in talks with retail partners so shoppers can try out the goods in stores and gyms.
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