Abe Burmeister is the co-founder and co-creator of cult favorite clothing brand, Outlier. To call their products technical clothing is really under-appreciating what the Brooklyn, New York-based company does. Every time I see their products, I see the future of clothing in a world limited by resources due to our changing climate. I see a path to a future wardrobe, where clothes are not just known for their style, but for their ease of use, longevity, and ingenuity. He has been at it for nearly a decade, and now you can see larger brands jumping on the bandwagon.
According to their website, “Outlier was born in the Spring of 2008 when a barista named Jenni Bryant realized two of her regular customers needed to meet. Abe had been experimenting with making a better pair of pants for his bike commute while Tyler Clemens had been doing the same thing with shirts.” The rest is history.
My first encounter with Outlier was through Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai, who sent me one of Outlier’s backpacks as a birthday gift. He had been wearing their clothes and was a huge fan of the company. I started googling the brand, ended up watching a few videos of Abe tell his story, and often thought that he would be a great interview. To be honest, none of Outlier’s clothes fit me — something I grouse about with Naveen. But that hasn’t stopped me from admiring what they do as a company. The company’s philosophy is what really got me: “We think the traditional fashion system is flawed and that it is possible to create higher quality garments at better prices by rethinking traditional cycles of development, production, and distribution.”
Coincidently, Abe was at Naveen’s wedding and it was a perfect opportunity to twist his arm to do an interview with me. I wanted to know more about him, Outlier, what he thought of the boom in venture-backed clothing startups — and most importantly, the future of technical materials and fashion.
This is an edited version of our conversation. I will soon release an unedited version as a podcast as well, so you can hear him tell the story.