Mens activewear startup Pistol Lake raises $600K from Slow Ventures

Los Angeles-based Pistol Lake has developed what it thinks could be the next thing in men’s activewear — a line of shirts and other products made with new fabric that could be worn at the gym or out and about. To fund the next evolution of its product expansion, the company has raised $600,000 in new funding.

Pistol Lake was founded in 2012 by brothers Will and James Sulinski, along with Andrew Kneisley, and the company has spent the last several years experimenting with different styles and types of fabric.

While it started with just two products — a crew-neck t-shirt and a v-neck t-shirt — over time Pistol Lake has added a variety of long- and short-sleeve henleys, hoodies and sweatshirts. To date, it’s funded new product categories mostly through crowdfunding campaigns.

More recently, Pistol Lake has been focused on advancing a line of activewear products based on a new fabric it developed called Eudae. Made from a blend of eucalyptus pulp and recycled plastic bottles, Eudae was created to be comfortable and sustainable.

The plan to create a new type of fabric came as William Sulinski was looking for shirts that would be just as performant as the polyester workout gear sold by the likes of Nike or Under Armour, but without the same glossy sheen that says you’re coming from the gym.

“I thought, let’s make a fabric that looks like a regular t-shirt but performs like these fitness fabrics,” Sulinski told me. After testing “probably 300 performances fabrics,” according to Sulinski, the Pistol Lake team worked with partners to come up with Eudae.

After reading a paper on the benefits of Tencel, he wondered what it would be like to combine those fibers with a kind of recycled polyester. The result was the development of a custom yarn and fabric which Pistol Lake began to use in its manufacturing.

With its Eudae line of products, Pistol Lake is aiming to hit a sweet spot among active men who will be able to wear the clothes while working out, and also as they go about their everyday lives.

The eucalyptus fibers inhibit bacterial growth and odor, suggesting that a customer would be able to work up a sweat but not have to worry about everyone around knowing it.

(Disclosure: I’m a longtime customer of Pistol Lake’s, and was a backer of its Eudae Kickstarter. I absolutely love the way the new fabric fits and feels.)

Anyway, after years of crowdfunding new products and operating off of revenues, Sulinski decided to raise a small amount of seed funding to expand the company’s business. As a result, it brought on $600,000 in financing led by Slow Ventures, with participation from Casper co-founder Neil Parikh, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures and a handful of other strategic angel investors.

Why Slow? Because “Dave [Morin] at Slow was one of our biggest customers… and actually might be our biggest customer,” Sulinski said. In addition to buying the company’s products, Morin has also provided invaluable product feedback over the years. And since Morin has invested in a number of other successful direct-to-consumer brands like Casper and Allbirds, it’s probably feedback well worth considering.

So what’s next? To start with, Sulinski and team are going to work on having increased inventory of products to meet demand that’s been doubling every month over the last quarter.

It’s also going to continue working on bringing new products to market. That includes new styles of shirts and shorts, but also the development of new product categories for the company, like socks and underwear.

With some more cash in the bank it should be able to do that and hopefully get Eudae incorporated into more dudes’ everyday wardrobes.