The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) would like to congratulate EA Chief Competition Officer, Peter Moore on his new role as CEO of Liverpool’s Football Club. Moore worked at EA for almost a decade, leading the EA Sports division, serving as COO and CCO. This summer he will return to Liverpool as CEO of his favorite football team.
Moore is no stranger to SFIA or the sports industry. In the mid 1990s, Moore chaired the Soccer Industry Council of America (SICA). During this critical time in the soccer industry, Moore led the SICA initiative to address child labor allegations. Ultimately, SFIA (Formerly SGMA) convened a historic agreement between the soccer industry, International Labor Organization (ILO), World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry and Save the Children to ensure no children were involved in soccer ball production. Due to Moore’s diligent work, we received the 1997 Corporate Conscience Award from the Council on Economic Priorities, and the soccer industry received recognition by Former President Clinton in his address to the ILO.
In 2006, Moore was a keynote speaker for our Sports + Technology Convergence. There he spoke about the intersection of the sporting goods industry and video games/interactive technology enhancing the overall sports experience.
We are excited about this new step in Moore’s career and wish him all the best.
Checketts: There’s nothing quite like Rhone in the market. Rhone is a premium active-wear company that produces high-quality attire for men. Created to fill a void in the menswear market, Rhone speaks directly to how the modern man lives, works and sweats. Rhone blends innovative materials and forward elements of design into products that stand up in the gym and excel during transitional times. This painstaking attention to detail results in superior fit, form and function.
How long has your company been around? What type of growth have you experienced from that time until now?
Checketts: As a company that started as a direct to consumer model in 2014 we saw the opportunity to evolve into an omni-channel business and sell through retail, wholesale and corporate partners. This approach is what has allowed Rhone to grow 400% in 2014, 250% in 2015, and 250% in 2016 year-over-year. In 2014 we had 7 full-time employees. We now have 26, and expect to have 50 by the end of 2017. We are also about to move into a new HQ in Stamford, CT that is 5x the size of where we originally started at launch.
Overall trends in market:
McClure: Active-wear itself is a trend so on its face Rhone is participating and competing in perhaps the biggest overall trend in apparel. Within that trend there are any number of undercurrent trends as it relates to performance, style and technology. Construction, fabric, fit and functionality drive the trend in performance.
On a construction basis there is a trend towards welding or no sew techniques on both knits and woven. At Rhone we have been playing around with this advancement in garment construction with no sew welded zippers along with a welded no sew leg opening on our Moby Board short in Spring 2015 along with our fully welded Tornado Running short from the same season. Making our pieces multi-media and more techy with PU beveled pockets like on the Spar or laser perforating panels and welding the leg opening of the Swift Short has kept us at the leading edge and on trend in the construction game.
Rhone, since its inception, has been at the absolute top of the market in terms of fabric innovation and quality. Across the different players you will see jacquards knits placing strategic venting into the fabrics. The trend toward engineered fabrics is one that we’ve kept a close eye on and have been working on since 2013. Our legacy fabric found on the Sentry and Bulldog features an engineered drop needle stripe that allows the technical poly jersey to breath better and dry faster while also adding some incredible fabric interest with a sophisticated aesthetic.
Fit, which in active-wear used to mean baggy, big and boxy, is now something a discerning customer is paying close attention to. Rhone has sought to create a tailored and refined fit that matches the needs of our discerning customers. Being at the top of the market, our customer understands premium tailoring. Following along on that trend in menswear we have worked each season to continue to refine our fit. The benefit of this is overall performance as active-wear in general, and Rhone specifically, is meant to move with the wearer.
Finally, functionality is a trend you will see across all entrants into the active-wear market, and at Rhone we believe that attention to detail is crucial. Women’s active-wear is used almost as fashion basics, or even just fashion to be worn to and from the gym and also just out and about. While men’s active hasn’t mirrored that exactly, there is a need for active-wear to function in that “to and fro” and all around setting. Something as simple as our zipper back pockets on our best selling Mako short adds to its functionality. You can throw them on and wear them out and carry your wallet normally. Category extensions are coming about due to the need for added functionality. The trend in “commuter” pieces that incorporate technical fabrics into ready-to-wear silhouettes is very important and a burgeoning market. At Rhone we developed our aptly named “Commuter Pant” using what we think is the most innovative fabric to that end. Working with knitters in Japan we use a warp knit fabric that looks like a woven but performs and has the comfort of a knit. The pant features a security pocket, a welded media pocket, articulated legs, and a chino design to create the most functional pant you can wear. The more you move in this fabric the greater its air permeability, which basically means as you move and heat up, the more air passed through the fabric cooling you down.
Where do you see your company in the fitness apparel industry? With so many options in the market, does that help or hurt Rhone?
Checketts: We view Rhone as a pure player in the performance lifestyle category. There are a lot of players in performance who are now trying to become more fashionable and develop the creativity and vision that fashion demands. Equally there are a lot of players in the lifestyle realm that are trying to incorporate performance fabrics into the mix but they are not known or thought of in the eyes of consumers as a performance trusted brand. Rhone has been from day 1 in performance lifestyle—marrying the components of each into a new offering that matches the lifestyle and needs of a modern man.
With the inundation of the fitness apparel market, what helps Rhone stand apart, what makes it unique?
Checketts: We use the highest quality fabrics and the most innovative materials and technology available to create a product that we feel is unparalleled. By incorporating elements like Gold & Silver into our garments for powerful anti-microbial and anti-odorant protection, to breathable mesh venting panels in the underarms of our performance tops, to chafe-free flat-lock seaming, every detail has been taken into consideration.
Can you tell me about any partnerships Rhone has or is working on? Can you share who is using this product?
Checketts: We are currently work on several exciting partnerships that we look forward to sharing more news about in the coming months!
We’ve seen so much attention paid to athleisure boom, do you consider yourself part of that space? And is the athleisure movement just a buzz word or does it have real staying power?
Checketts: Athleisure has become a bit of a buzzword and in our opinion may be a bit of a misnomer for performance lifestyle. Athleisure tends to be apparel that looks like performance lifestyle but lacks the real performance chops—the idea of wearing yoga pants not for yoga but just to lounge around in. This is not a category we want to be known for—we think our customer needs and demands that the product not only feel good and look good but perform even better and we think that’s achievable.
What do you see as the next evolution of Rhone as a brand?
Checketts: We believe that Rhone will be the next billion-dollar brand in active apparel. In the meantime, we plan to build out our own retail business while continuing to provide the best men’s active-wear on the market.
Can you offer any case studies or client testimonials?
Here are a few reviews we are really proud to share:
5 stars review on Sentry Short Sleeve
Bulletproof! Perfect fit… I am a former US Marine and currently serve as a technology executive that travels a ton… which is hard on clothing (inside and outside the gym). In the last 30 days I traveled 25K miles, 10 hotels, 40workouts, and rotated two of these shirts (hand washing in hotel room and wringing out to dry). That’s tough (and likely not recommended) on fabrics, but they look and fit like the day I bought them. Bulletproof.
5 Star review on Forge Seamless
Flawless Shirt for Everyday and Workouts. The minute I got my package, I tried the shirt on and immediately cut the tags off. It was perfect. Fit, form, function! It looks fantastic, feels smooth and soft, has a great stretch, and the design/color (Heather Blue Steel) awesome. I love the *** across the upper back. Minimalistic with taste. I’ve purchased a few other items from Rhone in the past and always loved them, but this is hands down my favorite.
5 Star Review on Mako 9” Shorts
Best shorts I own. The shorts are awesome! Perfect for lifting weights and running.
Co-Founder & CEO of Volt Athletics, Adjunct Professor of Sport Performance at University of Washington
What is Volt Athletics?
Volt Athletics is a sports technology company that brings professional-level strength and conditioning to all athletes and teams worldwide.
Volt’s Intelligent Training System uses proprietary technology, combined with decades of industry expertise, to deliver better training to more athletes. A key difference between Volt and existing fitness apps is that while most apps track what a user has already done, Volt actually tells the user what to do. Volt’s sport-specific programs are designed for performance training and built by professional strength coaches, adjusting to and growing with the user throughout their training. With Volt, athletes walk into the weight room with their unique training plan, knowing that Volt will deliver the right workout for them, every time.
How long have you been around? How’s has your company grown?
Volt’s mission has always been to provide access to better training to every athlete worldwide. We founded Volt in 2011 and released our first beta product to about 10 teams in late 2012. Currently, we work with over 3,000 teams and over 60,000 high school, college, and professional athletes around the world and are growing quickly.
We’re built to scale because of Volt’s patent-pending Intelligent Training System. Our technology leverages decades of proven strength and conditioning research and science to build hyper-personalized training plans delivered through our digital interface. It also allows us to work with any athlete or team seeking quality sport-specific training.
With inundation of the fitness tracker market, and now the coaching market, what role will Volt play in this space?
Technology currently isn’t playing a widespread role in athletic development because it’s not practical, affordable, or effective. Sure, there are plenty of technology resources available to pro teams and athletes, but not for the rest of us. We’ve set out to change that.
Consumers are demanding more than tracking from their fitness wearables. Steps, calories, heart rate—users might know what their body is doing 24/7, but there is a disconnect between having the data and the expertise to know what to do with it. We are able turn the data we track and collect into actionable recommendations, providing users access to dynamic training instead of cookie-cutter or isolated workouts.
You guys have been busy with partnerships, can you share who is using this product?
We have forged strategic partnerships and relationships with several like-minded organizations, including the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the Seattle Seahawks, and USA Football, and work with hundreds of high school, college, and professional organizations. One of the unique capabilities of Volt’s technology is that athletes at any level can train properly for the demands of their sport, regardless of their location.
Can you share any case studies or client testimonials?
We hear a lot of positive feedback from the thousands of coaches and athletes that use Volt. We’ve had a soccer coach say it’s the best thing he’s bought besides soccer balls, a football coach thank us for how efficiently it allows him to operate his weight room, and many athletes reach out because of the results they’re seeing within their sport.
Here’s one example from Head Football Coach Tyler Hales at La Jolla Country Day School who tweeted, “Torrey Football has been using Volt Athletics for the last 3 years and we’ve won 2 CIF Championships.” Becky Nette tweeted, “Been doing the [Volt] program for 2 months and have hit 3 PRs in the last two weeks! Commitment to the program is key!” And Matt Ingram tweeted, “I have had multiple people, including trainers, ask about my workout. When I explain Volt, they’re amazed.
And here’s another from Nick Umble, “I just retired from the US Army after 20 years of service. I spent the last 14 years as a Green Beret. I am currently playing college football at 38 years old at the NAIA level. I am used to D-1 strength coaches, that is what was hired to train us in the Army Special Forces world. This is the closest thing to what they taught and preached. So thank you for putting together an amazing app.”
Our Volt team is made up of former athletes, and hearing feedback from our users who are still pursing their athletic goals and training the right way for their sport—is what makes it exciting to go to work every day.
You announced a round of funding last week. How will the funding be used? What are the new markets?
In 2016, we expanded our offering into the consumer market, and substantially improved our product for teams. Both channels have seen tremendous growth, and this funding enables us to broaden our reach to more athletes.
Volt is a combination of proven strength training expertise and cutting-edge technology, which means we’re constantly evolving our product to meet the needs of our users. The funding from this round will be invested in what makes Volt a leader in the sport performance space: our Intelligent Training System.
The round was for over $770,000 and brings Volt’s total funding to $3M.