top of page

How An Underground Fashion Label For Nerds Got Cool(WIRED)

The pockets of Outlier's new waterproof coat close with magnets. The flap that protects the top of the zipper (and hides a secret pocket) seals with a precise little snap sewed onto a smaller flap.CHRIS MAGGIO FOR WIRED

The pockets of Outlier's new waterproof coat close with magnets. The flap that protects the top of the zipper (and hides a secret pocket) seals with a precise little snap sewed onto a smaller flap. CHRIS MAGGIO FOR WIRED

The article first appeared on WIRED.

For the obsessed fans of this technically minded menswear house, Tuesday drops are always a big deal. This one is bigger than most. The Shelter From the Storm is Outlier’s first breathable waterproof shell. That’s the kind of thing that, if you care about it, you care about it a lot.

The jacket, in Outlier parlance, is an “experiment,” a limited-release garment that indulges every bit of the otaku flair for which Outlier has been known since Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens founded it in 2008.

Which means: The textile isn’t anything so prosaic as GoreTex; it’s Neoshell, two kinds of nylon sandwiching a polyurethane membrane that, as Outlier’s website puts it, isn’t “extruded like traditional garbage bag ‘waterproof breathable’ fabrics, but is instead electrospun using a nonwoven process.” It’s black, unlined, and its seams are sealed with pale-colored tape, which gives the inside a sort of Mondrian look.

The pockets close with magnets. The flap that protects the top of the zipper (and hides a secret pocket) seals with a precise little snap sewed onto a smaller flap, so you can fit a finger behind it. The cuffs close with ratchets instead of velcro. If you undo the two-way side zips, the bottoms lock together with “block tapey,” a nubbled rubber alternative to Velcro that grabs like Bristle Blocks.

High-tech fabric. Hidden pockets. Five different closures. And styling that makes the half-dozen Outlier employees modeling the jacket for Instagram look like a CIA cyberninja team from the year 2043. Or maybe a well-dressed tribe of antinationalist crytpocurrency cultists. This is Outlier, Outlying.

The company sent an email to its list telling people something big was coming this week, and earlier this morning the founders did an Instagram Live splitscreen chat with a writer from the streetwear site Highsnobiety. So at 12:21, more than 100 people are already on the website, waiting. “We’ll see what happens,” Clemens says, watching Google Analytics on a monitor. “It’s a $750 jacket, so—”

“—any time we push the price envelope, it’s hard to predict,” Burmeister says, finishing the thought. That price is comparable to other makers, but higher than Outlier's main-line offerings.

At 12:25, 134 people are on the site. Forty-two of them have clicked Purchase.

By 1:58 pm, Outlier has sold more than 80 jackets. All the extra-smalls and smalls are gone. “So that’s pretty successful,” Clemens says, relieved. “We only made like 100, but that’s a sizable run for what it is. For pants, we do thousands.”

Burmeister kicks in: “They’ll probably be done by the end of the day,” he says. “With the experiments, we want it to be short and sweet, or we take too much risk.”

Scroll through the 60 or so Outlier “experiments” and you get the impression risk is the company’s shtick. (I point you here to the Alphacharge Poncho, with its anime face mask, sandwich of fabrics including insulation used by the US military, and hidden pocket—a veritable bargain at $888 if it wasn’t sold out. (And, sure, look at that fucking poncho LOL. Fine. But I’m still kicking myself for missing out on another experiment, a broad-shouldered riff on a 1980s Armani suit.) Even if your personal style doesn’t extend past a hoodie and jeans—or, I don’t know, custom shoes and haute couture—the weirdness and make-stuff-better obsessions of Outlier in the last year have been wild to watch.

And drawing an ever-growing crowd. Pragmatic, textile-driven design, social media acumen, and supply-chain savvy made Outlier a darling of nerdy, direct-to-consumer technical menswear and an I-see-you signifier among Silicon Valley types. Today Outlier has 22 employees—Burmeister and Clemens are still the sole owners. Fashion business publications have reported its revenue as between $5 million and $15 million, “and we didn’t dispute that,” Burmeister says. Now, 10 years on, Outlier's increasingly experimental experiments are evidence that Burmeister and Clemens aren’t even close to running out of ideas.

In the mid 2000s, Manhattan-born Burmeister was a graphic designer working on data viz for a small investment firm; he’d also realized that he could do almost all of his work on a laptop or even a cell phone and was experimenting with living out of a carry-on. “That required thinking really seriously about everything I owned,” he says. And he started riding a bike everywhere. “That’s what started destroying my clothes.”

So Burmeister began working on a pair of pants that would look good enough for an office, or even after work, but that were tough enough for cycling.

Meanwhile Clemens, who was raised outside Toronto, was working at a New York custom-shirts-and-suits company. He’d grown up reading his sister’s fashion magazines and gotten interested in the business. One rainy day he walked into a coffee shop, soaking wet. The barista asked him why he didn’t have an umbrella, and Clemens explained that he was testing the water resistance of a prototype shirt.

The next day, Clemens walked into the same coffee shop and the barista handed him a coffee-cup sleeve on which Burmeister, also a frequent customer, had written his email. The barista said: I think you should meet this guy.

Pants tough enough to deal with anything became Outlier’s signature play—trousers “for the end of the world,” as the folks at GQ put it. (Like WIRED, GQ is owned by Condé Nast.) “We were trying to solve a specific cycling problem,” Burmeister says. “How to not look like a cyclist but still perform.”

They started going to textile conferences—Outdoor Retailer, then in Utah, was a big one. They wanted to find out where big companies, which they assumed used all the best stuff, got their supplies. But it turned out that the big companies of the world actually used the best cheapest materials.

As for the actual best, well, “we found that there was all this stuff nobody was touching. We were stunned. Like, nobody is using this? Nobody is using this?” Burmeister says. Military fabrics, equestrian fabrics, industrial fabrics—they were all for sale, or had been. They found, for example, a doubleweave with Cordura-grade nylon on one side and a softer nylon/polyester blend on the other. It seemed like it would make really great pair of jeans.

Read more on WIRED.


原文首发于 WIRED.

对于这个科技男装品牌狂热粉丝来说,周二放送总是一个重大事件。这一次比其他都还要重大。这款 Shelter From the Storm 是 Outlier 的第一件透气防水外套。 这个外套用 Outlier 的话来说是一个“实验”,是一款限量发行的服装,浑身上下散发着自从 Abe Burmeister 和 Tyler Clemens 于 2008 年创立这个品牌以来所熟知的宅男风格。 这意味着:这个织物不像 GoreTex 那样平淡无奇;它是 Neoshell,两种尼龙中间夹着聚氨酯薄膜,正如 Outlier 的网站所说,它不是像传统垃圾袋“防水透气”织物那样挤压,而是采用非织造工艺进行电纺丝。 它是黑色单层,接缝处用浅色胶带密封,这使得里层有一种蒙德里安风格的样子。 衣服的口袋靠磁力关闭。保护拉链顶部的皮瓣(并隐藏了一个秘密的口袋)用缝到小皮瓣上的一个精确小 卡扣密封,所以你可以把一个手指放到后面。袖口通过齿轮合闭,而不是魔术贴。如果你解开双向拉链, 底部将会与“胶带块”锁在一起,这是一种小块橡胶,可以替代像鬃毛积木一样牢牢抓紧的魔术贴。 高科技面料,隐藏口袋,五个不同闭合,还有风格,让 6 名 Outlier 员工在 Instagram 上穿着这件外套 的造型看起来就像 2043 年的 CIA 网络忍者团队。又好像是一个打扮得很像样的反叛国家加密货币邪教 组织。这就是 Outlier,这就是 Outlier 的风格。 该公司发送了一封电子邮件给一系列的人,告诉他们本周即将会有一件大事发生,今天早些时候,创始人 与一位来自街头服饰网站 Highsnobiety 的作家进行了 Instagram 分屏聊天直播。所以在 12 点 21 分的 时候,网站上已经有超过 100 个人在等待。 “我们来看看会发生什么,”Clemens 说,在显示器上关注 着 Google Analytics。 “这是一件 750 美元的夹克,所以。。。。。。 ” “每一次我们推动价格上涨,都是很难预测的。”Burmeister 接着说。该价格与其他厂商相当,但高于 Outlier 的主要产品线。 12 时 25 分,有 134 人在现场。其中有 42 个点击购买。 到了下午 1 点 58 分,Outlier 已经卖出了 80 多件夹克。所有的加小和小号都卖完了。 “所以这很成 功,” Clemens 说着并松了一口气。 “我们只做了 100,但对于夹克来说一个相当大的量。裤子的话 我们做几千条。“ Burmeister 补充说:“他们很可能会在一天结束之前卖完。 对于这些实验,我们希望它是时间短而结果 好的,否则我们承担的风险就太大了。” 纵观这个 60 或者 Outlier 所谓的“实验”,你会了解到印象风险是该公司的特色。 (这里我想提到 Alphacharge Poncho,它的动漫口罩,三明治面料包括美国军方使用的绝缘材料,还有隐藏的口袋 - 如 果没有售罄的话,价格为 888 美元。还有,当然,看看他妈的那个雨披 LOL。好吧,但是我仍然因为错过 了另一个实验而想抽我自己,那就是在 20 世纪 80 年代的阿玛尼套装上的一个宽肩层)即使你的个人风格 不能通过连帽衫和牛仔裤,又或者是戏服、鞋和高级时装传递出来,去年 Outlier 的 怪异的和对精益求精 的执着真是让人大饱眼福。

还有不断吸引更多的人群。实用的纺织品设计,社交媒体的敏锐性和供应链的精明使 Outlier 成为硅谷类 型中的一个书呆子宠爱,直接面向消费者的技术男装和“我懂你“高手。今天 Outlier 有 22 名员工 - Burmeister 和 Clemens 仍然是唯一的拥有者。时装商业刊物报道其收入在 500 万美元至 1500 万美元之 间,Burmeister 说:“我们并不否认。”现在,10 年过去了,Outlier 越来越多的实验性实验证明, Burmeister 和 Clemens 完全不会有灵感枯竭的那天。 在 21 世纪中叶,出生于曼哈顿的 Burmeister 是一位平面设计师,为一家小型投资公司提供数据服务。他 也意识到,他几乎可以在笔记本电脑甚至手机上完成所有的工作,并且正在尝试边走边生活的方式。他说: “这需要真正认真思考我拥有的一切。”他开始到处骑自行车。 “那就是毁坏衣服的开始。” 于是,Burmeister 开始研究一种看起来足够适合办公室,甚至下班后穿的裤子,但是又可以坚韧到可以骑 车。 与此同时,在多伦多郊区长大的 Clemens 正在纽约一家定制西服公司工作。他从小就看他姐姐的时尚杂 志,并对时尚感兴趣。一个雨天,他走进一家咖啡店,湿透了。咖啡师问他为什么没有雨伞,Clemens 解 释说,他正在测试一件原型衬衫的防水性能。 第二天,克莱门斯走进同一家咖啡店,咖啡师递给他一个咖啡杯套,上面写着 Burmeister 的电子邮件 (Burmeister 也是常客)。咖啡师说:我想你应该见见这个人。 无所不能的超强裤子-如同 GQ 的人们所说的那样,“世界末日”的裤子成了 Outlier 的标志品。 (像 WIRED 一样,GQ 由 CondéNast 所有)Burmeister 说:“我们正试图解决一个具体的单车问题, 如何 看起来不像骑车的人但仍然达到效果。” 他们开始参加纺织会议 - 当时在犹他州的 Outdoor Retailer 是一个很大的会议。他们想知道那些他们觉 得有最好货的大公司从哪里拿到的供应品。但事实证明,世界上的大公司实际上使用了最便宜的材料。 至于真正的最好,Burmeister 说:“我们发现没有人碰过这些东西。我们惊呆了。没有人用这个吗?也没 有人使用这个吗?“。军用面料,马术面料,工业面料 - 他们都是在出售的,或曾经是。例如,他们发现, 一面采用 Cordura 级尼龙双面织物,两面采用柔软的尼龙/聚酯共混物。看起来好像可以用来制作一条非 常棒的牛仔裤。 更多精彩尽在 WIRED.

Related Posts

bottom of page