You don’t need to tell most people tuned to the outdoor industry — the performance merino wool apparel market has become a crowded field.
This week, Super.natural CEO Andy Vecchione announced that the merino wool brand will cease its wholesale distribution in North America beyond its spring/summer 2015 collection.
“Our investors have decided to focus their investments on the growth of the European and Japan markets where it will continue to be distributed as planned,” Vecchione said.
Super.natural, which launched in Europe in 2012, Japan in 2013 and North America in 2014 is a subsidiary of China-based Shanghai Challenge Textile Co. Ltd. The parent company also provides a variety of services including supplying brands Nike and Polartec with materials and manufacturing in Asia.
Vecchione, the former CEO of Polartec, had teamed up with Jon Adelman, also previously of Polartec, to bring the Bluesign-certified Super.natural brand to the North American market in January 2014. The business expanded with the July 2014 hires of former Icebreaker president and Keen executive Troy Ballard and former Icebreaker Canadian director of sales Robbie Stevens as Super.natural’s director of sales in the U.S. and Canada, respectively.
“It’s disappointing,” Vecchione said of the decision to cease wholesale operations here. “We had a lot of people picking up the product and the brand was very well received. Was it a crowded field? Yes. But no more than the rest of the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that Super.natural would have done well here given a couple more seasons. It takes some time to build brand recognition.”
Vecchione said his future with the company is "to-be-determined."
Super.natural offers men’s and women’s lines of baselayers, midlayers, lifestyle and sportswear apparel, focusing on snowsports, outdoor, fitness, yoga and travel. It focused on wool/polyester performance combinations with modern designs. Beyond spring/summer 2015, the brand will attempt to sell direct-to-consumer in North America on a trial basis.