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Outdoor Brand Sold By REI, Nordstrom Snags First Outside Investor

Topo Designs is gearing up to build brand awareness under its mission of The New Outdoor.

The Colorado-based outdoor brand received an undisclosed equity investment from Gart Capital Partners. The funding—Topo’s first from outside investors since its founding by Jedd Rose and Mark Handsen in 2008—will be used to build brand awareness and expand customer acquisition programs.

The outdoor brand offers sustainable, durable apparel and accessories and targets millennials and Gen Z, who appreciate “approachable, utilitarian apparel and accessories fit for the outdoors, travel and daily routines,” Topo said.

“Topo Designs was founded with the fundamental belief that everyone experiences the outdoors differently,” Rose said. “Our brand is rooted in mountain culture, but we also love exploring cities and world travel. We celebrate these radical differences by offering products that help people get confidently outside on their own terms, regardless of location.”

“In Topo Designs, we saw a unique opportunity to invest in a differentiated outdoor brand with unmatched authenticity and credibility, as well as a strong mission dedicated to helping all people explore and enjoy the outdoors, however it is that they define it,” Alex Gart, partner at Gart Capital, said.

The Topo brand is sold in over 30 countries across six continents and has a wholesale distribution to 1,200 stores that includes retailers such as REI, Backcountry, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Moosejaw, among others. In 2022, total revenue grew over 30 percent, and the company is “projecting strong double-digit growth in 2023,” Topo said. It recently revised its five-year growth strategy. Funding from Gart’s investment will help Topo focus on customer acquisition across direct-to-consumer channels in the U.S. market, as well as leverage Gart’s expertise in outdoor retail. Looking ahead, Topo expects to implement plans that will expand retailer programs, nonprofit and community partnerships, and sustainable product innovations.

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Asked about what those sustainability initiatives might involve, a spokewoman said Topo will reveal a three-year sustainability plan later this year based on the three pillars of product, people and process. Today, 82 percent of materials in Topo products are sustainable, a number the company wants to get to 92 percent by 2024.

Topo also has plans for it Dirt Collection, which makes products quickly lusing less water, fewer chemicals and less steam. “Our garment dye process also utilizes an advanced e-Flow technology that minimizes material waste and waste water,” the spokeswoman said.

Gart, a family investment office, operates eight platforms that include Gart Brothers Sporting Goods Co., Specialty Sports Ventures, Running Specialty Group and GolfTEC, among others. It focuses on the lower middle market consumer and service-oriented investment opportunities.