by Brian Lipton
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Founded in 2015 by Joe Teno, Debbie Overton, and Kelly Cooper, three former executives from women’s active brand Athleta, men’s online and catalogue retailer QOR has quickly become one of the leaders in the emerging space of men’s fashionable yet functional clothing by using high performance fabrics in luxurious fibers reinvented in understandable styles. MR recently spoke with Teno (now the company’s CEO) and Cooper (now the company’s chief merchandising officer) about the company’s beginnings, their must-have picks for first-time buyers, and what they envision for the future.

MR: What was your inspiration for designing the line?

Kelly Cooper: There was a void in the men’s market for versatile clothing, and we took it one step further by cutting classic silhouettes in performance fabrics. Our products outfit a customer who leads a typical active lifestyle, from work to commuting to working out in a variety of activities in the gym or golfing and swimming. What I hear most often from the customer is that the product fits and is comfortable. I think that alone is a step forward for menswear.

MR: Why did you decide to launch it as an e-commerce/catalogue company?

Joe Teno: We opted for the direct to consumer model simply because that’s where our experience is; we know it works and provides the best service to the customer. We’ve spent our entire careers building products, directly contacting consumers, fulfilling orders — all the things D2C requires. And it goes beyond the folks in our office – our vendors, suppliers and investors are similarly aligned. As a complete team, it’s our sweet spot.

MR: How has the line changed since the launch?

KC: To date, we have created an extensive line of products- ranging from base layer tees and polo shirts, jackets, blazers, jeans, trousers, shorts to outerwear. We launched the line with over 70 styles, which was very ambitious for a start-up, and we are continuing to expand and iterate from there. We outfit the customers for their day in merchandised “kits”, so the buying decision making process is a lot easier. While this hasn’t changed from day one, we are also working even harder to make sure the buyer understands what is so special and differentiated about all of our products. Going forward, we are continuing to respond to what the customer is voting for and to push the envelope on innovation.

MR: Which pieces from your current collection would you consider “must-haves” right now?

KC: There are lots of items that define the brand, but for first-time purchasers, I would suggest buying our Lightweight Stretch Polo, our Gym Jean V, our Merino V SS, and our Performance Suiting Blazer, which is water repellent, stain resistant and breathable.

MR: What’s one thing that makes you different from so much of your “competition”?

KC: The clothes are very understandable and easy to wear for a variety of body types. We have sizes ranging from S to XXL, waists from 30 to 40, and even various lengths in our pants.

MR: Would you ever consider expanding into a brick-and-mortar business?

JT: You bet! Our first year in business was about learning who our customer was and especially the type of products he wanted to buy from us. He’s active, well educated, and well off, which is exactly what we wanted. Now that we have that learning, we can’t wait to see how the clothes would resonate in a retail environment.