how it started
Like many successful brands today, Vuori started in a garage. After noticing a void in the men’s fitness market, Kudla, a yoga enthusiast who had worked at Ernst & Young, decided a decade ago to found a menswear line focused on the southern lifestyle. of California, namely surfing, yoga, hiking and cycling. A friend from college invested in the brand and offered his garage as a workspace where Kudla and Sakelliou strategized on product, design and marketing. From the outset, Vuori focused on using sustainable practices and materials — a smart move, given that 47% of U.S. consumers recently said they find sustainable clothing “very or somewhat important,” according to a survey by NPD and CivicScience. Suppliers are required to sign a “Vuori Code of Conduct” which includes fair treatment of labor and safe and healthy working conditions, and products are produced with reduced waste and carbon footprint in mind.
While he planned to establish wholesale early on, many retail buyers were confused by the offering, Sakelliou said, noting that stores wanted to place Vuori in a category like lifestyle or fitness, not both. “A lot of buyers have misunderstood positioning and versatility,” she said. While waiting for wholesale, Vuori shifted gears and invested in her own e-commerce business instead, handling grassroots marketing by speaking to different communities, attending trade shows, and showcasing products at design studios. yoga across the country.
However, the wait for wholesale was not long. A year after Vuori began selling directly to consumers online, REI brought the brand as a test partner to a few of its stores. Shoppers were able to touch and feel the fabric, which is woven rather than knitted like many competitors. At the same time, many fitness instructors began to wear the product in class, and Vuori was also spreading by word of mouth.
The company, which has expanded into women’s clothing alongside men’s, now sells at REI, where it woos outdoor enthusiasts, and Nordstrom, where it attracts a more luxurious clientele.
“They are two different retailers catering to different consumers, but they are both credible retailers, and that also lends credibility to the brand,” Fernández said.
As for its own brick-and-mortar, Vuori opened a flagship store in Encinitas and expanded its fleet. It currently has 17 stores, including 12 in California. Earlier this spring, the brand expanded its e-commerce offerings beyond the US to parts of Europe, Australia and Canada, with wholesale plans at Selfridges and Barry’s Bootcamp.