Nau, the ambitious Portland-based outdoor retailer, announced Friday it was closing just 14 months after launching. In a statement on its website, the sustainable apparel company blamed tight credit markets.

Nau was founded in 2005 with a management team and board formerly hailing from big-time apparel companies including Marmot, Nike, Patagonia and Adidas. The company aimed to design and sell clothing made from renewable materials, such as recycled polyester and merino wool. At the store level, displays were made from reclaimed wood and dressing rooms with curtains made from recycled material. Getting the most media attention was Nau's plans to give 5% of sales to consumer-selected charities.

Another unique feature was that Nau kept minimum inventory in its stores, meaning customers often had to have their product shipped to them from a distribution facility, albeit at a 10 percent discount. Nau planned to open 140 stores by 2010.

But according to The Oregonian, it took $35 million of capital to get through its first year of sales. As it struggled to find new investors, it cut back its planned number of store openings this year from 20 to five. Its stores are located in Chicago; Portland, OR; Bellevue, WA; Boulder, CO; and Los Angeles.

In a statement on its website entitled “Goodbye for Nau,” the company said, “In the currently highly-risk averse capital markets, we simply could not raise the necessary funds to continue to move forward. We believe this is not so much a reflection of the viability of our business, but the results of an unfortunate confluence of events. Just as we could not have predicted the sudden groundswell of environmental consciousness that blossomed at the time we launched our business, we did not foresee the current crisis in the capital markets. At this time, investors are loathe to invest in anything; especially it appears, a company like Nau that has the audacity to challenge the conventional paradigms of what a business should be.”

Nau went on to thank its investors “who got us this far – those who saw our potential and gave their support when the risk was greatest.” It also thanked its customers, the media and other business associates.

“In the end, we are proud of what we have accomplished as a company. After less than one year of business, we donated over $225,000 through our customer–directed giving program, Partners for Change. We feel this model, were it widely adopted could have a staggering potential to influence the common good. We are thrilled to have watched the growth of a community of individuals who have strongly identified with Nau's mission and who have shared their thoughts and feelings with us online and in person, in our local markets and activists whose passions have inspired us to do what we do and who have welcomed us as part of a much greater movement devoted to positive change.”

The Nau Team concluded, “Nau set out to show the world that business can be a force for positive social change environmental change. Although our current financial obstacle have proven to be insurmountable, it does not mean that our fundamental goal is unattainable. Nau was merely one attempt to express a large idea that was aground before us and will survive long after. It remains as urgent as ever for businesses to take the ldea in creating a sustainable future for humans and the planet. We as individuals and as members of a grander collective of the change-minded look for to continuing that journey.”