We use dating apps as such a force of habit that it’s worth wondering how people are even supposed to approach each other in real life anymore. Here’s one easy opener: “Hey, I love your ’70s-style yellow Bumble-branded varsity sweater!” It’s low-hanging fruit, sure, but that sweater looks incredible on everyone, so who could blame a complimenter?
Bringing Austin easy openers like this and easier-on-the-eyes designs, the locally headquartered dating app Bumble is partnering with California lifestyle brand Aviator Nation to create an online store. The clothing line follows Aviator Nation’s track-striped athleisure sensibilities, in a simple color story aligned with Bumble: black, white, and a range of yellows, from cream, to canary, to mustard.
A sunny crewneck sweatshirt runs encouragement up and down the arms in a ticker-tape stripe spelling out Bumble’s motto, “Make the first move.” Even though women have that honor (or shoulder that burden, depending how you look at it) when starting conversations on the app, the sweatshirt is unisex. A trucker cap in a striped ochre gradient says the same, while a corduroy bucket hat simply shows off the logo.
One item in the store mimics Bumble’s functionality, but face-to-face. A deck of cards asks thought-provoking questions like, “Should you talk to someone you’re dating every day?” and, “What are you glad your parents don’t know about you?” The potentially controversial prompts could be just as useful years into a close friendship as they are on a first date.
The most unmistakably Aviator Nation-designed items (priced accordingly) are a matching pullover and sweatpants set in cream and yellow stripes. Even without touching these super-soft pieces, it’s clear they’re visibly elevated from a standard sweatshirt. The pocket closes with two brass zippers, and a ribbed cowl neck keeps the structured shape cozy and unique. The 50 percent cotton pieces are all handsewn in California.
It may sound odd that a dating app is taking a risk with such high-end merch, but there’s already an explicit demand for it. Selby Drummond, chief brand officer at Bumble explains via a release, “When Bumble was founded in 2014, we originally created our merchandise for the Bumble staff, brand ambassadors, and those who attended our events. However, before we knew it, people were asking where they could purchase our items, from pens to T-shirts, and everything in between.”
It’s not just because the merch looks good — although it does really look good. People want to rep the app. Bumble has a sparkling reputation in Austin through word-of-mouth alone. Some 93 percent of Bumble employees in a 2019 Great Place to Work survey praised the workplace. This year, Bumble instituted a companywide week off to combat burnout.
For those not on Bumble’s payroll, the app is many city dwellers’ first stop off the sometimes dreadful Tinder train, and has expanded to fostering platonic connections (Bumble BFF) and even business networking (Bumble Bizz). Similarly, Aviator Nation raises goodwill in the community by welcoming Austinites through store doors to do a lot more than browse clothes. A stage at the back of the brand’s Congress Avenue showroom welcomes local bands and comics (Nané, Broken Zoo), and a rooftop deck gives space for parties and open-air yoga classes (Collette Hill, Adam DiMarco, and DJ Cassandra).