- Joining other DTC brands in building out its executive team, Vuori, a direct-to-consumer activewear brand, has hired Peter LaBore to serve as its first chief operating officer and Andy Lawrence as its first vice president of international, the company said in details emailed to Retail Dive. LaBore started Aug. 23 and Lawrence began Sept. 9; both report to founder and CEO Joe Kudla.
- In his new role, LaBore will work with Vuori's leadership team to help the startup scale its operations and improve its customer experience. Lawrence will be developing the company's omnichannel operations in Europe, Asia Pacific and other markets, per the announcement.
- LaBore, who has spent 20 years in the e-commerce sector, has held previous roles as COO at Reformation and in several operating and e-commerce positions at Backcountry. Prior to joining Vuori, Lawrence held leadership positions in international at Reiss, Ralph Lauren and Dean & Deluca.
Vuori's appointment of LaBore and Lawrence is part of the brand's larger 2021 growth strategy, which includes plans to invest more in physical stores, hire more "key team members," enter new markets abroad and progress toward its goal of becoming 80% sustainable by 2022, the company said.
Currently, Vuori has 10 stores of its own, as well as an e-commerce site, and operates only in the U.S. The retailer also sells wholesale with more than 500 accounts, including Nordstrom and REI.
The hiring of two key executive positions follows in the footsteps of other online brands that have relied on veteran talent to take their company to the next level. This year alone, direct-to-consumer brands like Everlane, Purple and Mack Weldon have hired execs with experience at major retailers and brands to help drive scale.
"As we continue to optimize our growth, we couldn't be more excited to have Pete and Andy come on board," Kudla said in a statement. "Our ambition is to bring quality activewear that is styled for life to new markets and create world-class operations at home and abroad while doing so. Pete and Andy's energy and leadership, coupled with their remarkable experience will help elevate our brand to the next level."
The COVID-19 pandemic put Vuori's brick-and-mortar store opening plans on pause, but the company pivoted to other initiatives in 2020, like creating an "omni-associate" role to suit the changed environment once stores were allowed to reopen. The company told Retail Dive in June it's keeping the program in place, given that blending the digital and physical retail operations would be necessary in the post-pandemic world.
As Vuori plots its own global growth, other DTC activewear brands are raising capital to expand. On, a running brand backed by tennis player Roger Federer, filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August to launch an IPO with its share price starting between $18 and $20. Allbirds also filed paperwork last month with the SEC to launch its long-rumored IPO, but the company didn't disclose how many shares it plans to offer or a possible share price.
Meanwhile, others are entering the workout clothing space. Both Allbirds and Thinx debuted their activewear collections this year, while Levi's and Wolverine World Wide have each acquired activewear brands to get into the hot market.