Kit and Ace, the performance apparel startup founded in 2014 by Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson’s wife and son, last week announced that members of its leadership team, including CEO George Tsogas, have acquired the retailer. The transition was completed Aug. 31, and terms weren't disclosed, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The company last week also announced it reached profitability, in part thanks to "strong demand for its Navigator Collection, a technical apparel line that focuses on giving bike commuters office-ready clothing options," according to the release.
The retailer last year shuttered all its stores in the U.S., Australia and the U.K., limiting sales to its e-commerce site and nine stores in Canada, after suffering two rounds of layoffs the previous year.
Tsogas has led Kit & Ace since April last year, when he first outlined his idea to pivot the brand from its mutely toned, high performance casual clothing to a commuter staple.
The brand's apparel is made of a "technical cashmere" developed by Shannon Wilson, formerly Lululemon’s head designer. The material had previously been rejected by Lululemon years ago, but Shannon and Chip Wilson’s son, J.J. Wilson, saw potential in it. Chip Wilson even pitched in as he cut ties with Lululemon.
Tsogas's pivot also demonstrates his enduring faith in the clothing, but he's narrowed its target and the company says that's paid off. Since the shift to appeal to cycling commuters, the brand has "demonstrated strong growth and momentum in key cities where Kit and Ace is focused, including Vancouver, Toronto, New York and San Francisco," the company said in its release.
The new positioning opens up specialty cycling retail to the brand. Free People has similarly seen sales growth in its activewear by selling through yoga and other fitness studios, and Lululemon recruits instructors of yoga, Pilates and other segments as brand ambassadors.
"With the world’s urban population surging, we are seeing a new segment of commuters that are riding their bikes to work and want to be office-ready but haven’t had apparel options to do so," Tsogas said in a statement. "The commuter way of life is technical and functional, yet allows you to show up to the office looking put-together and professional, without needing to change into something new. This is what we’re bringing to our apparel."