San Diego When former athlete-turned-model-turned-finance-guy Joe Kudla couldn’t figure out what to wear to his yoga class, he decided to switch gears and launch his own clothing line, Vuori, which he expects this year will bring in nearly $20 million.
“I beat up my body playing football and lacrosse, and a friend suggested I try yoga ten years ago for my back,” said Kudla, who was born and raised in Encinitas. “I fell in love with it. But, it led me to ask, what does a guy wear to yoga?”
At the time, Kudla couldn’t find a lot of yoga wear options except for big brands like Nike and Adidas and Under Armour.
“But their stuff didn’t have the movement and range of motion needed for yoga. And, the true yoga brands out there were making stuff that looked almost like festival gear. The only brand that was doing it right was Lululemon, but it just didn’t feel masculine enough. So, I saw an opportunity to do something cool that was inspired by my hometown and my active lifestyle.”
In the spring of 2015, after seven years of observing the market and raising $300,000 from family and friends to fund the project, Kudla, who received an accounting degree from San Diego State University, launched Vuori.
Now, his active wear apparel line that offers men an array of items from shorts to tees that transition from the gym or studio to everyday life thanks to its fabrics and designs, is expected to nearly double its annual earnings this year from $10 million in 2017. Most recently, Kudla and his team of 20 launched a women’s line, with items like sports bras, leggings, and hoodies.
As for the men’s line, although it has evolved into a full collection that includes sweat pants, technical knit pants, hoodies and rain and wind protection outerwear, among other items, the shorts remain the top-seller, accounting for almost 60 percent of the brand’s business to date.
“If you look at men’s athletic shorts before Vuori, they were probably maybe gray or black or some muted color,” said Kudla. “But, Vuori brought all this personality through prints and sophisticated colors and patterns. It just looked and felt different.”
But Kudla says aside from the quality and designs of his products, which are manufactured in Colombia and China, among other foreign countries, the success of Vuori is due to his talented team and their long collective experience in their respective fields and in the world of apparel.