Nate Checketts has been around big time sports all his life. As the son of former St. Louis Blues owner and President of Madison Square Garden Dave Checketts he probably has a better understanding of the way sports business works, and sometimes doesn’t work, better than most entrepreneurs.
So maybe it comes as less of a surprise that on Thursday, Scott Soshnick at Bloomberg reported that Checketts’ latest venture, the athleasure brand for men Rhone Apparel, had not just raised $5 Million in financing but had pulled in investors like former NBA Commissioner turned tech investor David Stern, former head of NFL Network Steve Bornstein retired NBA player Shane Battier and ESPN broadcaster Ryen Russillo to help take the male clothing company to a new level of engagement.
“I was impressed by the products,” Stern, who usually does not throw around compliments said in the article breaking the news. “‘Athleisure’ has become a very popular category.” Rhone has looked to be for men what brands like Lululemon are for women; high end, high quality outfits that can be worn to the gym and to the office. They durable and fashionable lines have a degree of silver in them, which helps keep the clothes both fresh smelling durable longer than most traditional workout clothes, and have helped the company grow to the point where it is now available in high end chains and Equinox Fitness Centers as well as in a thriving online business. A popup store is also in the works for the holidays according to the story.
It is certainly a crowded space with big brands, but the marketplace is with some reports of the athletic wear industry now topping $33.7 billion a seven percent year to year growth.
“We view this as a coming-out,” Checketts added in the story. “What we’ve been doing is learning. We’re really going to start building the business. Having capital allows us to do great things. We can take some risk we wouldn’t otherwise do.”
Spoken like someone who knows sports business. Clothing lines and bloodlines seem to run together sometimes.