The Weekly Q & A: Gabriel Pelino
The WOD founder talks about his burgeoning CrossFit fashion brand and Lululemon's PR struggles
STORY BY // Matthew Fleischer
The world of fitness fashion is having an interesting turn in the news, after Lululemon founder Chip Wilson was forced to tearfully apologize for comments he made last week, suggesting that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the company's yoga pants. Lululemon's stock has since taken a more than 3 percent nosedive since negative reaction from Wilson's comments spread across the Internet.
South Pasadena has its own burgeoning fitness fashion mogul—Gabriel Pelino, co-founder of WOD Gear Clothing Company. (WOD stands for “Workout of the Day,” an acronym taken from the popular workout regimen Crossfit.) We spoke to Pelino about the rise of CrossFit, the pitfalls of expanding fitness fashion into the mass market, and, of course, the recent Lululemon PR nightmare.
How did you discover the world of CrossFit, and what made you take the leap from practitioner to fashion outfitter?
My wife got me into CrossFit. She is a level 1 coach for kids. In January of 2010, she bought me a gift certificate to CrossFit Pasadena. I immediately loved the community and loved the workouts. That July, I read an article in Forbes about how CrossFit was the number one action sports industry to be a part of. I’m a businessman. So that definitely resonated with me. I was a Lululemon guy. So I said to myself, I’m going to be the Lululemon of CrossFit. I didn’t just want to be a t-shirt company. So I reached out to a young friend, Scott Clauson, who’s great on the creative side. I said, “This is what I’m thinking of, you handle the creative end, I’ll handle the business end.” He said, “Let’s go for it.” We launched in January 2011 with four t-shirts. The idea was not to be a t-shirt company. The motive was always, we’re going to be a full on brand—the Lululemon of CrossFit. The vision is we’re gong to come out with leggings for women and really cool shorts. We’re going to keep it in Downtown LA. Keep it as a USA brand. And in 2012, that’s what we were able to do. We had this big splash. In addition to our leggings, we were first to come out with men’s shorts. It’s a mix of MMA and a board-shorts style. What we’ve done, from a number’s standpoint, is gone from four t-shirts and 135k in revenue in 2011, to more than 600k in revenue in 2012.Read More: http://www.pasadenamonthly.com/articles/weekly-q-gabriel-pelino-2013-11-12