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What Nau? Horny Toad Acquires Portland Apparel Brand’s Assets

Foundering, environmentally conscious clothing company to be relaunched under own name Aug. 1.

Horny Toad Activewear Inc. of Santa Barbara has acquired the Nau brand, which shut its doors May 2 after failing to secure additional financing. Nau’s closing triggered an overwhelming response from its customers, who recognized the value associated with its product, brand and pioneering work in the sustainability arena.

The customer response, and a deep belief in what Nau represents, inspired a small group of employees to explore a resurrection of sorts. Horny Toad, a like-minded lifestyle apparel company, purchased the bulk of the Portland company’s remaining assets. Terms were not disclosed.

“We saw in Nau an innovative brand representing the perfect blend of outdoor, urban fashion sensibility with an unwavering commitment to sustainability,” Horny Toad CEO Gordon Seabury said in announcing the acquisition. “It is all about their innovative product, authentic brand and, most important, the talented group behind those attributes. Our long-term vision is to create a family of complimentary brands that can learn from one another while embodying a do-the-right-thing philosophy.”

Horny Toad has also pioneered an experimental retail concept in Portland, The Lizard Lounge in the Pearl District. Part retail venue and part urban social hub, the lounge carries a variety of apparel brands.

Nau will relaunch Aug. 1 as a new and separate company benefiting from operational support and experience provided by its new parent company. This will include a transition of fulfillment and logistic services to Horny Toad’s social venture partners, Planet Access.

“We’re thrilled to find a partner who both recognizes and values the unique nature of what we’ve created and is committed to supporting the growth of our business over the long term,” said Ian Yolles, who was hired by Horny Toad as Nau’s marketing director.

“We’re still committed to being a catalyst for positive change and bringing distinctive product to our customers,” said Mark Galbraith, who now works for the new company as Nau’s head of product design. “We plan to reopen with a new Fall/Holiday 2008 collection that continues to reflect the design philosophy Nau’s customers have come to know and love — a balance of beauty, performance and sustainability.”

As in the past, Nau will produce garments in the most environmentally sensitive manner available and continue to work with manufacturing partners to emphasize social and environmental responsibility. In addition, Horny Toad is committed to maintaining Nau’s Partners for Change program to continue giving a percentage of every sale to organizations working for positive change.

Also expected to relaunch is Nau’s blog, The Thought Kitchen. The company’s first public face when it was posted in 2005, the blog will continue as a place where people can learn about and discuss Nau’s progress.

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