One To Watch
Posted on April 1, 2020
Encinitas-based clothing company Vuori has rapidly become one of the most popular active brands for men and women, but a whopping $45 million investment by Norwest Venture partners last August proved that the brand is not only a darling among the active fashion set but also within the financial sector.
Launched in 2015, Vuori originated with founder Joe Kudla’s search for activewear that fit his lifestyle and activities, including yoga, which he felt traditional athletic brands weren’t delivering. Though his original path was in accounting — he worked as a CPA for Ernst & Young after graduating college — a stint in a completely different field proved to be a source of experience that also sparked a personal interest. “My friends love giving me a hard time about it, but I spent a couple years modeling overseas,” says Kudla. “I graduated from college, went to Milan, and spent two years traveling and working with designers.
So, I’d always been dabbling, it was always my passion, but it wasn’t until Vuori that I was able to jump in with two feet and say, ‘I’m going to give this a real honest go and try to make this my career.’”
Achieving this caliber of success in less than five years might seem like a quick rise to the top, but Vuori is actually Kudla’s third apparel venture, and while the other two may have missed the mark, they provided experience and an understanding that in order to be successful, he had to be all-in. “If I’ve learned anything about entrepreneurship, it’s very hard to make a business go with only investing ten percent of your energy into something,” says Kudla.
Although $45 million is a significant infusion, Kudla says nothing inside their doors has changed. “Our strategy is still the same strategy. If anything, we are investing heavily in product. We’ve always been a product-obsessed company,” he explains. The money will surely prove helpful as the company expands due to its popularity; Kudla predicts he’ll double both his workforce and his production facility’s footprint this year. “The line is going to be expanding out of core training into outdoor. We’re launching a really cool exclusive outerwear collection with an incredible partner that’s going to drop this fall, and then we’ve got this really cool travel commute assortment,” Kudla says, offering a glimpse of what the brand’s fans can expect to see in the coming months.
Through its advancements, the company remains true to its roots. “From day one, our whole brand premise was to draw inspiration from the coastal California lifestyle as this integration of yoga, surfing, fitness, healthy, conscious living — it’s Encinitas. Encinitas was the birthplace of the brand, it’s what inspired the brand, and it’s what motivates us and drives us, so it’s really the lens by which we look at everything we do,” says Kudla.
vuoriclothing.com Deanna Murphy
Joe Kudla: Photo by Bob Stefanko Product shots courtesy of Vuori