Austin-based Outdoor Voices has already been picked up by the likes of J. Crew in the U.S. and Garbstore in London, but founder Tyler Haney is taking a quiet approach to launching the activewear line locally.
“I don’t want to be too loud about it. We will be loud at some point, but only once a lot more people are behind it,” she says. “I’m young and my business partner Andrew [Parietti] is young, so we decided to stay under the radar for a bit so we aren’t making mistakes on large amounts of money.”
That easygoing perspective doesn’t fall far from the manifesto of Outdoor Voices, which is to approach activity with “moderation, ease, humor and delight.”
“We’re flipping performance activewear on its head,” explains Haney. “Outdoor Voices is apparel for recreation. We’re not going after people who are firstly defined by [fitness].” Instead, Haney has opened up the audience of Outdoor Voices to people who may, on one day, train for a half marathon, and on the next, spend the afternoon leisurely brunching or lounging with friends — all while looking comfortably “fit.”
Haney started Outdoor Voices in 2012 straight out of college. After growing up in Boulder, Colorado where “casual activity is baked into everything you do” and attending Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, she was acutely aware of the fact that she couldn’t find any workout garments that aesthetically appealed to her. So, like any young entrepreneur would, she independently started researching technical fabrics and absorbed everything she could about patterns and construction. “I had nothing to lose after school,” she says, “so I just went for it.”
It didn’t take long to attract attention. The simple, clean, muted palettes quickly drew in a women’s order from J. Crew, among other retailers, and Haney’s artful point of view consistently sets the company apart. The Outdoor Voices website and social media is jam-packed with imagery you’d never expect to see from a fitness aficionado; Haney references a Vogue health and beauty book from the 1970s as a great source of inspiration.
“I like there to be an element of surprise,” she explains. “So a lot of imagery that we create and select is not the whole picture, but mindfully focusing on a certain section of the body to make you feel something ... We’re thinking of representing activity outside of stretching on a track. Every moment counts.”
This unique positioning allows Outdoor Voices to sit comfortably in both high-end lifestyle boutiques, as well as a high-end sports stores. And to tap into the active Austin marketplace, Haney opened the first Outdoor Voices brick-and-mortar on October 2 in the quiet neighborhood of Clarksville. The choice to take up residence in an old craftsman bungalow off of the busy West Sixth Street thoroughfare was very purposeful. “It’s kind of like a hidden gem,” she says, which allows potential consumers to discover the brand on their own.
Haney says she’s eager to watch the community build itself in and around the new store, which boasts an outdoor space where plenty of classes will be held and groups will be hosted. Though she’s willing to let the process take its natural time, don’t be fooled into thinking that the eventual scope of Outdoor Voices will be a small one. “Our ambition,” she reveals, “is to be the Lululemon of our generation.”
Outdoor Voices is located at 606 Blanco St. It is open to the public as of October 2; join Outdoor Voices for a public opening party October 2 from 5-8 pm.