Aria Discs also joins the two major apparel companies in XII.
March 2, 2020 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 0 comments
In a blockbuster apparel industry consolidation, Savage Ultimate, Five Ultimate, and Aria Discs have agreed to merge their three companies into XII Brands, bringing together strong east coast and west coast jersey manufacturers.
XII Brands — the XII refers to the addition of Savage’s seven branding and Five — will operate as a new entity led by Savage founder Todd Curran as CEO. Each of the Titcomb siblings that founded Five Ultimate join XII Brands as shareholders alongside Savage’s Dan Curran and Dan Lee.
All three original brands will continue operating as distinct entities, largely retaining their current staffs, while moving Five’s production from Seattle to Richmond, Virginia, XII’s headquarters. Five will maintain its Seattle office for sales, marketing, and design.
“Five Ultimate is the premium ultimate apparel company,” Curran told Ultiworld. “The brand is designed to work inside the community, create new products that are specifically designed for ultimate, and work with USA Ultimate and the National Teams and really focus on growing within the ultimate community.”
“On the Savage side, we’re going to be working on the eco version and also focusing on the worldwide sports community,” he said. Savage is a jersey supplier to other niche sports like quidditch, Spikeball, and disc golf.
Aria Discs — a producer of ultimate discs and competitor to Discraft — will continue to operate as XII looks to expand the discs’ use in the sport. Production of the discs will continue in its Taiwanese factory, though stamping and art design will shift to Richmond. “We can now start cross-promoting and making sure that Aria’s growth into the ultimate world is now going to be piggybacked on Savage and Five Ultimate,” said Curran.
The consolidation comes on the heels of Spin Ultimate and VC Ultimate — two major east coast suppliers — unwinding their merger in late 2019 after joining forces in 2014.1 Like Spin and VC, Savage, Five, and Aria are seeking the benefits of economies of scale.
“When you look at any corporate merger, you try to pick the best parts of each organization,” said Vehro Titcomb, who will serve as a Vice President in XII Brands. “We all realized we all have really good people. So the same brand leaders are still in charge of each brand. Yet now we have twice as many marketers, twice as many social media folks, and twice as many supply chains, if you look at it that way. So looking to optimize made a ton of sense.”
Savage’s US-based production facilities have already begun making Five gear, featuring Savage’s proprietary fabric created from recycled plastic bottles. “We focus on manufacturing ourselves,” said Curran. “And when we started manufacturing ourselves, we realized we had more capacity than we were using.”
That led to Curran contacting the Titcombs over a year ago about the possibility of working together.
“There was this uncanny joint reach-out,” said Vehro Titcomb. “I think they sent the first email, but we literally had it on our to-do list.”
The two companies had worked together some in the past, when Curran proposed the United Ultimate League, a semi-professional mixed ultimate league, that would use Aria Discs. Though the league never got off the ground, it left the two parties with a positive working relationship.
“There are only a handful of people in the world that think of business and the sport, not one over the other,” said Zahlen Titcomb. “I was always a fan of [Savage’s] attitude. They’ve always been go-getters.”
After months of planning and negotiation, the three companies officially agreed to consolidate in January 2020.
Even as Five moves to US-based manufacturing after using Chinese factories in recent years, XII Brands is thinking global. The company plans to set up jersey manufacturing in Vancouver, France, and the Philippines to serve foreign markets. Curran said that they will send their fabric, spun in North Carolina, out to their overseas factories, but that using local production will reduce the cost and environmental impact of shipping to customers.
On the company’s website, XII Brands writes that its four pillars are sustainability, community impact, gender equity, and diversity and inclusion. The companies will continue their existing partnerships, like Five supplying the U.S. National Team jerseys and Savage making AUDL kits.
“Our relationship with Five has always been incredibly positive and likewise with Todd and Savage,” said USA Ultimate Director of Communications Andy Lee. “And so when we see a couple of brands come together that we’ve had nothing but positive experiences with over the years, we’re excited to see what they can do.”
For existing customers, little will change. The sales teams are unchanged and operating independently. But the three brands will be able to work on larger projects — like merchandising at tournaments — together.
“I truly believe — not just PR believe — that this will be a really good move for ultimate,” said Zahlen Titcomb.