Brands on the Rise is a regular Ad Age feature spotlighting the marketing and business tactics of successful challenger brands. Read the first installment here.
Few brands are up to the task of breaking into the $171 billion crowded activewear market, but Vuori, a seven-year-old retailer out of Encinitas, California, is rising to the challenge. The company, named after "mountain" in Finnish, is climbing to new heights thanks to a range of smart marketing and business strategies.
By incorporating sustainable sourcing and materials into its fabrics, Vuori saw an opportunity to differentiate itself from established players, such as Nike and Under Armour. It also began by targeting yoga wear for men—a category white space that had been overlooked by rivals such as Lululemon. Throw in a steadfast commitment to customer service and a founder whose background in accounting made him more critical of excessive costs and it's no surprise that Vuori landed on market research firm NPD’s top emerging activewear brands list this year.
The clothing is technical and made with performance in mind, but styled for life, according to Nikki Sakelliou, chief marketing officer and the first employee hired by Vuori Founder Joe Kudla.
“It has a lot of versatility and doesn’t necessarily look like fitness clothing,” Sakelliou said. She added that many brands have popped up in the last decade in the athleisure space. But Vuori's Southern California aesthetic "sets us apart," she said.