Brooklyn-based clothing brand Outlier upholds its name with great pride. Its unique perspective on design reimagines how we should view movement. It’s a perspective beyond the prototypical approach to clothing. It considers tangible qualities such as physical movement and protection against the elements. More importantly, it integrates intangible characteristics that allow us to navigate social settings seamlessly. Outlier paired an innovative perspective alongside a direct-to-consumer approach. The results, consumers have been able to acquire the well-designed and considered product at reasonable prices. The end goal is, however, much simpler. It’s about removing barriers. Where you see is where you’ll ultimately be able to go. Outlier is the outlier.
Text, Audio & Photos by Eugene Kan
Rolled-up Outlier Ultrafine Merino Wool T-shirts.
Travel is a powerful mechanism for understanding what makes humans tick. Engaging in foreign cultures opens the doors of empathetic thought as we educate ourselves on the beliefs of others. In preparation for travel, we often go through the motions of packing without heeding to the unexpected challenges ahead. It’s because we rarely see fashion and clothing as an enabler of experiences. Under the vision of founders Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens, Brooklyn-based Outlier set forth in defining movement. Their relationship came about through mutual friends but catapulted forward through the similar problems they wanted to solve in clothing. Sitting down at their Brooklyn studios, the tall, lean and clean-shaven Tyler sat alongside the heavier-set and bearded Abe which offered an initial contrast that would further shape as the day’s meeting went on. Tyler’s soft-spoken nature is a further foil to Abe’s confident and rapid-fire demeanor. Just as Abe and Tyler seem to be of contrasting personas, their unified desire to solve problems in clothing are the perfect parlay to rectify the existing and at times disjointed relationship many people have with fashion. It is one often based in a binary approach divided between functionality or aesthetics, rarely both.
Movement is the main proponent of Outlier. It isn’t to be considered in the traditional sense only but through a myriad of interpretations. In the early days, Outlier was positioned by the consumer as a bike-centric brand that offered office workers the ability to comfortably get on and off a bike before waltzing into an office. Abe and Tyler lamented this association. It was selling the brand short in its overall vision.
Abe errs on the side of frustration when he mentions that “cycling was a trap.” It was for the first year, very helpful and it was very deliberate… intentional. We focused on one problem set. If you focus on too many problems, you’re juggling too many balls. Then we got the point where people loved our pants but didn’t want to wear them because they didn’t bike. If we wanted to expand past it, we had to move past it and kill it. We don’t shoot on bikes, we don’t talk about bikes. It was needed [but], it was tough and it was painful.”
Outlier shirts and outerwearofferings on the rack.
“ The first two components in body and liquid are obvious ones. Most offerings in any outdoor store fulfill these requirements with ease. That means jackets cut for climbing or the snow with waterproof breathable functionality that often embodies a very utilitarian aesthetic based on performance. The integration of social movement in fashion is a relatively new phenomenon. As Abe’s fun-natured persona comes through in explaining the product: “If you go into a restaurant like you just came off a mountain, they’re going to look at you funny.” There’s a set of societal norms that dictate what dress is acceptable and what is not. To rewrite these rules are very difficult and to succeed, Outlier must operate within these parameters. But the space to experiment and engage is large.”
It’s painful when you’re running a brand. People don’t understand the act of creation. It’s an insane amount of energy. It’s not just a burst of energy, it’s a sustained push.
In a series of stark words, Abe and Tyler nod in unison: “It’s painful when you’re running a brand. People don’t understand the act of creation. It’s an insane amount of energy. It’s not just a burst of energy, it’s a sustained push.”
You gain a strong sense of consideration from Abe and Tyler. Every move and every stitch operate not in a vacuum, but as an interconnected chain of events. The complexity of it all pushes them to adopt a mentality resilient to difficulty. From the sounds of it, their success has been built on the back of problem solving of big and bigger varieties. “I hate blaming other people but there are times when other people’s mistakes almost cost the business. Sometimes you just need to suck it up. We have factories that do crazy shit and looks like a $10-$20,000 mistake but it turns out being a $70,000 mistake. We just have to find a way,” Abe states.