Barbell Apparel sells jeans, chinos, shorts, and shirts that are specifically designed for the athletic body. Bodybuilders, rock climbers, mountain bikers, cross trainers, and others who work out a lot and or play action sports have muscular bodies that just don’t fit well into the traditional patterns cut for jeans and other casual wear. For example, if they buy the sizes that actually fit their rock hard lean waist, the rest of the jeans are not cut large enough for their well developed quads and buttocks.

In catering to those with an athletic body, Barbell Apparel is filling an expanding niche. They are also reaching a very grateful underserved market. This is probably why they raised about forty-nine times their initial Kickstarter goal. They had such an enthusiastic audience, they were able to raise an amazing $735,794 dollars from 5288 people in just a few hours!

The company was founded by Hunter Molzen, an active bodybuilder who spends more than twenty hours a week working out in the gym. Before starting Barbell Apparel, Molzen was an internet entrepreneur selling bodybuilding equipment online. The idea to design jeans that actually fit an athletic body came from his own experiences finding it hard to find jeans that would fit his massive quads and also not restrict his movement when he engaged in other physical activities. He was also surrounded by friends and family members who struggled with the same issues. Thus, it is not hard to imagine why Molzen decided to name his new company, “Barbell Apparel.”

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Initially, Hunter and a few others bootstrapped the company, using their own personal money to fund the prototypes, the initial research, and the hiring of experts that they needed to get started. They initiated the business with classic jeans made from technologically advanced denim, which continues to be their flagship product. However, with the amazing success of their second Kickstart campaign, they raised $179,046 from 990 investors, and were thus able to branch into other products in high demand from those with an athletic body. These included several more styles and colors of jeans, chinos, and shorts.

Barbell Apparel initially gave away prototypes of their products to close friends and family who were extremely active. They were able to refine their earliest prototypes with their feedback and then share these later prototypes with additional testers to get even more feedback and make further refinements. They targeted people who were the most extreme athletes to really put their prototypes to the test. Hunter believed that if the materials and designs worked for extreme athletes, they would work well for those who were also active but perhaps not quite as active as extreme athletes. This approach turned out to work really well.

Barbell Apparel uses a “hybrid denim textile” to create garments that easily stretch and move with the body. In fact, the materials seem to be so accommodating, some dedicated bodybuilders are actually able to work out while wearing these jeans. Normally, jeans would be far too constricting to do a serious workout.

It should be pointed out too that Barbell Apparel is targeting women as well as men. There’s a growing trend in the fashion world for women to achieve strong muscular bodies, not the skinny bodies that women used to try to obtain. In fact, strong female bodies are considered the “new sexy,” so Barbell Apparel seems to have positioned themselves in just the right niche at just the right time! Their business should continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

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Shark Tank Air Date: 11/18/16 – Season 8 – Episode 9

 

 

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