Who is Rhone?
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.