Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Company | Profile

Kit and Ace

Kit and Ace is a Canadian technical streetwear brand founded by Shannon and J.J. Wilson: the wife and son, respectively, of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson. When Kit and Ace launched in 2014, it would have been easy to assume the brand would become the little sibling to the already-cultish Lululemon athleisure and athletic wear mega-brand. Shannon Wilson was formerly Lululemon's head of design. But in just over a year, Kit and Ace has staked its claim solidly in the athleisure space. Instead of selling leggings and sweat-wicking tees to replace jeans and button-downs, Shannon and J.J. have created semi-athletic clothes that also work as bona fide outfits. The pair have developed their own line of "technical" fabrics that wash and wear with the ease of traditional athleisure but feel like cashmere and look appropriate in office settings. The athleisure iron was apparently hot: The Wilsons opened 51 stores to date, with 65 anticipated by the end of 2016, in locations stretching from Milwaukee to Melbourne. The company had originally piloted many of the locations as pop-ups but kept them open due to demand. The stores themselves are designed to foster a sense of community: A portion of each shop is designed by local artisans for a unique, non-chain-store feel. And most locations also have a dining room table used for invite-only quarterly supper clubs. Many even have a technical atelier where local emerging designers are invited to set up in the shop for eight-month residencies to experiment with Kit and Ace's fabrics, without restriction. That provides the company with testing ground for new designs, and those experimental designs are often integrated into the official collection and sold around the world. In spring 2016, Kit and Ace will start offering swimwear and unveil yet another new proprietary fabric: technical silk.

The company's competitive advantage in 2016:

Developing original fabrics
The learned success of Lululemon

The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:

The explosion of "athleisure" and many other companies attempting to make higher-end, work-meets-athletic clothing

What to look out for:

Growing its number of storefronts
Expanding to swimwear
Developing more proprietary fabrics

Top perks for employees:

Tools for growth, such as the Whil platform, which promotes mindfulness training and is accessible to all employees

Social media handles:

Twitter: @kitandace
Instagram: @kitandace
Facebook: Facebook.com/kitandace
Tumblr: kitandace.tumblr.com

Data

Competition
public or private
Private
profitable
No
staff
800
headquarters
Vancouver, Canada