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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023

5.11 Gear Goes to Washington

Zelenskyy and 'Avid Customer' Says CEO

Tactical apparel company 5.11 Inc. had a breakout year in 2022, passing the 100 count for retail stores, opening a new headquarters at the Canvas office campus on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, and for the most recently reported quarter, posting sales of $126.5 million, up 14% from a year ago.

5.11, whose products range from cargo pants to EMS bags and hiking boots, ended the year with a headline-making customer showing off the company’s apparel at the White House and Congress.

When President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine made an unannounced trip to Washington D.C. on Dec. 21, meeting President Biden and addressing a joint session of Congress, he did so while wearing the company’s tactical cargo pants.

Zelenskyy, who was making his first trip out of the country since it was invaded by Russia in February, “was wearing our patented 5.11 Stryke pants,” Chief Executive Francisco Morales told the Business Journal.

“They are a very popular pant. I personally designed these pants and engineered the fabric,” Morales said.

They retailed for about $82 as of last month, according to the company’s website.

Avid Customers

5.11 distributes to 120 countries, including Ukraine, via its wholesale partners and a burgeoning e-commerce business.

The “President of Ukraine and the brave men and women of Ukraine are avid 5.11 customers,” Morales said late last month. “They have been for many years.”

In March 2022, Zelensky wore a 5.11 shirt with the Ukrainian shield during a media event. Over $350,000 in proceeds went from the limited edition offering to humanitarian and medical relief efforts on the ground in Europe, according to the company.

One-third of 5.11’s business comes from overseas, and half of the U.S. business comes from direct-to-consumer channels made up of e-commerce and physical stores, Morales told the Business Journal in November.

100+ Stores

5.11 launched in 2003 with direct sales to public safety professionals, such as police officers and firefighters, and then with wholesale partners like Bass Pro Shops.

It later diversified its offerings by taking specific requests from customers and wanted to open a store to bring all of its products under one roof.

The company opened its first store in 2012 in Fresno.

5.11 opened its 100th store in August in Oxnard, and has opened several more since then, including local outposts in Costa Mesa and Fullerton.

Morales said 5.11 has a long-term goal of opening 400 retail stores total in the U.S.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.

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