Entireworld, the friendly technicolor sweatsuits brand from former Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg, is shuttering its business. “It’s not all a sob story,” founder Sternberg wrote in an Instagram caption announcing the news, but it certainly stings. The news is also a shocker: from the outside, it appeared that Entireworld was one of the few clothing brands finding success during the pandemic.
Sternberg launched Entireworld in 2018 as a brand with mass-market aspirations. The goal was to make fewer, more basic products—button-up shirts, hefty sweaters, and those sweatsuits—that would resonate with more customers than Band’s nicher, higher-end approach. The brand did fine as a direct-to-consumer player from a cult designer until suddenly it was on a pandemic-fueled rocketship.
In the very early days of the pandemic, Sternberg sent out an email to Entireworld subscribers that struck exactly the right tone: personal, soul-baring…and ultimately profitable. Before that email, the brand averaged 46 sweats sold a day, but bumped that number to 1,000 the day Sternberg’s note went out, according to the New York Times. That March, sales climbed 662% compared to the previous year. Entireworld’s sweatsuits, it turned out, were exactly the thing suddenly home-bound customers were looking for: cute enough for Zoom calls and comfortable enough for the couch.
That initial success puts the challenges of running an independent clothing brand into sharp focus. It’s hard enough to make and sell clothes during good times, let alone during a pandemic that’s crushing supply chains and making business even more unpredictable. “Entireworld is a big idea, a massive undertaking, which would require significant capital to be able to compete with the countless brands out there,” Sternberg wrote on Instagram.
Raising money for Entireworld has been an ongoing struggle for Sternberg. In March 2020, he told GQ he was “in the middle of a round of financing, so it’s a particularly precarious time right now.” The timing, obviously, remained precarious. Sternberg noted on Instagram that Entireworld’s closure is due to “years of unsuccessful fundraising.” He referred to a recent potential acquisition deal that “would have finally given us a shot at realizing the financial potential of the brand. But that deal disappeared in a flash, leaving us and our factories high and dry and giving us no choice but to shut things down.”
The closure of Entireworld is made all the more painful by the fact that Sternberg has been through this process once before. Sternberg’s previous brand, Band of Outsiders, was similarly beloved—and similarly crippled by of a crush of fundraising issues. He told GQ’s Sam Schube that he knew that brand’s days were numbered the day his final hope for private equity money passed (which also happened to be the day Band of Outsiders opened an extravagant store in downtown Manhattan). That story sounds crushingly similar now.
Let’s do the silver linings thing now. Sometimes there are brands that come around at the perfect time, and manage to catch something of the zeitgeist—and now, Sternberg has been at the helm of two of those. Band emerged as menswear was maturing, making oddball preppy staples right as men grew comfortable with dressing a little stranger, a little more fun. What are the chances that Entireworld would come of age right as a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic would hit the world? The sweats, as Sternberg noted on Instagram, were a comfort to many of its customers. When jeans were too tight and old basketball shorts too ratty, Entireworld was there to help us through the pandemic more comfortably and a little more stylishly, too. The last bit of good news is that the fun isn’t over just yet: Sternberg also announced a liquidation sale so you can grab your final Entireworld pieces on deep discount.