Most internationally famous rainwear brands come from Scandinavia, where there is a strong tradition of producing raingear to weather through all kinds of harsh conditions. That does not mean there is less of a need for rainwear outside of Scandianvia, as the brand Noah Rainwear from New York shows.
You probably have never heard of Noah Rainwear, which can be explained by its relatively young age and limited marketing after the startup. Unlike many other brands this brand was launched on kickstarter, a website where people with an idea can try to pre-sell their products and after reaching a minimum order amount start producing them. This method limits the initial investment and risks bared by the entrepreneurs as most of the costs are already covered before sinking serious money into the project.
The kickstarter campaign was started in October 2015 and immediately took off. Within only a couple of days the goal of 50,000 USD was reached. During the period of a month the campaign ran they reached a total amount of money committed of $80,199 with 487 raincoats pre-ordered and 446 backers. This would mean coats could be produced, packed, and shipped and a new brand of raincoats would be in business.
Noah Rainwear has basically one unisex raincoat on sale in 3 different colors; black, navy, and army green, as shown above on their website. The cut is quite modern making it a stylish coat for urban use that fits well with almost any type of outfit, from business suit to ripped jeans or a skirt. It is hard for me to comment on the material as I have never seen one of their coats in real life, but in some pictures there is a nice shine visible while in others the material looks a bit thin and not too special.
It is now almost 3 years after the launch of the brand and the website still only has one coat in 3 colors available. As far as I can see there are no new colors coming up, no new products will be on offer anytime soon, and their social media accounts have been quiet for the past 6 months. All this after such a successful start makes me wonder what is going on. It feels like the passion for this new brand is missing.
The following is all speculation based on a limited amount of research I did online, and I will give the logic behind my reasoning here so you can make your own judgement. I hope my digging deeper was purely motivated by my passion for rainwear and a lack of understanding why a brand that has sold almost 500 raincoats in a month does not expand and tries to capitalize on their early success.
The initiators of this brand are Emma Reilly and Lindsay Chan-Kent who have met each other during their MBA at the Columbia University. Neither has a background in fashion but Lindsay seems to have an inclination towards the fashion industry given the internships she has done during the MBA (all this information is available on LinkedIn). After graduating in 2015 they both start working normal day-time jobs, Emma as a manager at AMEX and Lindsay starts at Christian Dior Couture. A few months later the kickstarter campaign of Noah Rainwear goes live.
My guess is that they worked closely together during their MBA and found a mutual inclination to start a small company together to try out their newly found skills in marketing and entrepreneurship. After a search for a product they came to raincoats, possibly due to the success of Stutterheim raincoats, and started looking for opportunities. A quick search on Alibaba shows there are manufacturers in China who produce very similar raincoats, but they require a large order quantity to make it interesting for them (300 pieces for the manufacturer shown below).
It is normally possible to order one sample item at high costs, which explains why in the kickstarter campaign they are showing one raincoat in green which is used is all the pictures. They probably ordered it to be able to judge the quality and use it for promotional material. With a minimum order quantity of 300 pieces and a price range of $30-50 it still requires a huge investment from their side which will be troublesome near the end of doing an MBA as they lost 2 years of income from work while studying and they had to pay their university fees. The solution is doing a kickstarter campaign which only requires the investment in a promotional video.
After the kickstarter goal is reached the order for the standard raincoats, with maybe some small details customized, is placed with the manufacturer in China. While in the kickstarter profile they try to give the impression they work closely together with the manufacturer by applying some creative descriptions, my guess is they only have had email contact and are in no position to guarantee quality, demand changes, or have much bargaining power. This also shows from their March 2016 update where they indicate the production is delayed slightly because the manufacturer bumped them down in the queue, possibly because a larger and more important order has come in.
After delivery of all the raincoats the Noah Rainwear brand basically stops activity. The website is still active so you can order a raincoat, but promotion has stopped, and no new colors will be added which is explained by the minimum order size, of what I think is the manufacturer, of 300 items and low follow up orders. The owners have moved on and one of them probably has the leftover inventory stocked in her apartment ready to ship out in case new orders come in. But no more money or effort is invested besides paying the hosting fees for the website.
A fair question is why I spend time on reviewing this brand, besides a portion of envy, as I am not too positve about it. One of the main reasons is that I know a lot of small fashion creators who spend a lot of time and effort on their creations and are pursuing their dreams. They often work for very low wages and just love what they are doing. On the other hand there are people who approach it as pure money making or experience gaining. They launch a rainwear brand but have no love for the product or their own brand. While I do not know who produced the raincoats for the Noah Rainwear brand, nor what they paid for the coats, it seems similar coats are available in the price range of 30-50 USD depending on order size. Add to that the shipping costs, import tariffs, repackaging, and all the fixed costs of marketing, and you maybe end up with a cost price of around $80 per raincoat for a quantity of 500-800 coats at most. The selling price of Noah Raincoats online is $165 at the moment. All with all I think there are better options available for people looking for a nice raincoat or fashionable rainwear.
Again, the above is just speculation and I would love to hear it in case I am wrong about anything or you just simply disagree. Or if you have bought one of these coats I would appreciate it if you could leave a review, either positive or negative.