Outdoor Voices Moves into the DMV

by Aaron Royce

The activewear brand aims to lighten up activities.

Founded by Tyler Haney in 2012, Outdoor Voices has become known for bringing positive branding to activewear. With the opening of its Georgetown store last week, the brand is looking to spread its upbeat energy to the Washington community. Its M Street location is its ninth store nationwide and its biggest shop yet, spanning two floors and drawing design inspirations from local history. The space is interspersed with Metro-esque arches, multicolored tiles and even a retro TV featuring past presidents in recreational videos. The store is divvied up by women’s and men’s apparel- womenswear on the first level and menswear on the second.

“We want to support you in everyday activities,” says Melissa Rubenstein, the brand’s public relations representative. “Other brands call themselves ‘athleisure,’ and we think it’s lethargic. When you think of workout clothes, it can seem so serious, and we’re everything but that.”

Outdoor Voices’ newest location is in Georgetown. Photo courtesy of Melissa Rubenstein.

Rubenstein explains a store highlight is its first-ever “Rec Room,” where customers can borrow free equipment like roller skates, basketballs and soccer balls. The Room is also meant to give D.C.’s residents a break. “We want people to exercise recreationally without feeling like equipment is inaccessible. People can come in, leave their stuff in our lockers, and [for example] go outside and roller blade,” Rubenstein says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you exercise-we want you to come here and feel like you’re at home.” Outdoor Voices also welcomes customer feedback and considers it a core value. Rubenstein says patrons are welcome to test products outside, and exchange them for different sizes or styles based on their experience.

OV’s new TechSweat pieces were created as a result of customer’s seeking items for higher-impact activities. They also developed a unisex, sunset-inspired outdoors line based on customer feedback, which can be found on the second floor. “Our customers wanted [TechSweat] because we launched the brand with one fabric-so we developed this one that’s sweat-wicking and fits the body. We’ve also never solved for layering, so we made an outdoors collection,” Rubenstein says.

An Outdoor Voices ad, showcasing its’ activewear for running. Photo courtesy of Melissa Rubenstein.

Outdoor Voice’s ad campaign is noteworthy because the approach incorporates models of all sizes, colors, and ages. “The models in our ads aren’t from agencies,” Rubenstein says. “They’re friends of the brand, our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, people that work here. We want to show diversity. and celebrate all body types. We’d take photos with models who’d say, ‘But I have cellulite,’ and we’d say, ‘That’s wonderful.’ Our ads are un-retouched, and when they made headlines for showing women with cellulite, we didn’t think it was revolutionary. That’s how normal people are; there’s not one ideal for how to be.”

An Outdoor Voices ad featuring cellulite on a model, which was widely discussed earlier this fall. Photo courtesy of Melissa Rubenstein.

The ultimate takeaway comes from OV’s ‘Doing Things’ tagline, which emphasizes that exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous. “Everybody has different interpretations of Doing Things; it’s moving your body for your mind, removing pressure, and freeing yourself to feel good,” Rubenstein says. “We’re an activewear brand … we move for our minds, and have that positive energy throughout the day.”

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