Business

Outdoor Voices will close all stores this week

Outdoor Voices, a sportswear company, is closing all of its stores Sunday, according to four employees at four different stores who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the news.

In an internal Slack message reviewed by The New York Times, some employees were informed Wednesday that “Outdoor Voices is beginning a new chapter as we transition to an exclusively online business.” In-store products will be 50% off, according to the Slack message.

The news came as a surprise, two of the employees said, adding that they were not offered a severance package.

Outdoor Voices, which lists 16 outlets on its website, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Founded in 2014 by Ty Haney, the brand has become popular for its muted tones and highly Instagrammable aesthetic. Think crop tops and matching leggings in pale shades of earthy tones. Its hashtag and company mantra, #DoingThings, became popular on social media, where brand loyalists regularly shared images of themselves participating in athletic activities like running, hiking or spinning. The company often hosted events, like group exercise classes, and even built an editorial platform called The Recreationalist.

Many of Outdoor Voices' customers weren't just buyers; they were devotees. The company was a chic sports brand perfectly positioned to attract millennials, but it also sold a lifestyle. A lifestyle that helped the brand raise millions of funds. In a 2019 profile, the New Yorker compared Outdoor Voices to Lululemon.

However, behind the facade of hashtags and spandex, brewed in difficulty. In 2018, the company was valued at $110 million. (The same year, Outdoor Voices published its exercise dress, a stretchy dress with shorts underneath that inspired numerous imitators.) By 2020, that valuation figure had fallen to $40 million. Several senior executives successively leave the company. Ms. Haney and Mickey Drexler, a retail veteran known for his work at Gap and J Crew who became an investor and president of Outdoor Voices in 2017, apparently wouldn't get along. In February 2020, Ms Haney stepped down as chief executive, retaining a seat on the company's board of directors.

A store manager said she was informed the store was closing Tuesday and was offered $500 to stay for the rest of the week. She said it felt like a slap in the face.

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