Skip to main content
Retail Intelligence

I Hear Voices

By April 10, 2024No Comments

The brand, Outdoor Voices, has taken a rather wild (and peculiar) ride toward bankruptcy. Late last month, it was reported that the majority of the corporate staff was laid off and stores were abruptly closed.

One might wonder what caused this brand to stumble and fall flat on its face.

Oh yes, that’s right. Another DTC darling that got on a rocketship of funding, soared to a $110 million valuation, got into an executive spat and then a venture capital firm took hold of the steering wheel.

What could go wrong? 


Ashley Merrill took over as CEO after founder, Ty Haney, left the company. Her initial priority was fundraising. Not getting the retail business right. Not evaluating the assortment. But, go fundraise.

It didn’t seem to matter if funds were raised because vendors were not getting paid. In fact, last week, a subsidiary of MAS Holdings served Outdoor Voices with a $2.5 million lawsuit because the brand hasn’t been paying their bills for the past 2 years.

If you read more about Merill’s leadership style and decision-making process, you’ll find the same type of inane leadership that is routinely found in fashion. 

For example:

  • Killing off the size-inclusive range of products and having all designs fit to her body. 
  • Disrupting the product creation process with her impulsiveness, delaying products getting to market.
  • Disconnecting the brand from its customers.

And of course, it’s the frontline staff that pays for this type of ineptness with being served their walking papers. 

It’s a shame to see the types of stories playing out, unfortunately this is not at all surprising. DTC brands in particular who ride the road to fame via raising money but who don’t have their fundamentals in check are doomed to crash, burn and fail.

They should probably stop listening to the voices in their echo chambers. That’s a good place to start.