By Charlie Lunan

Warren Kanders continues to invest in active lifestyle brands despite taking a beating on his investment in Black Diamond Inc.

On October 12, women’s swim and beach wear maker Carve Designs Inc. confirmed it had appointed Kanders chairman after receiving a “significant growth capital investment” from an affiliate of his investment firm Kanders & Co. Inc. Carve Designs co-founders Thayer Sylvester and Jennifer Hinton will continue in their current roles as chief executive and creative director of the company, which is headquartered in Mill Valley, CA.

Founded in 2003, Carve Designs initially focused on the development of rash guards and board shorts, but now offers a comprehensive line of apparel including surf, swim, active and lifestyle designs. Products are sold at more than 300 specialty retailers across the U.S. and Canada, as well as through an emerging e-commerce platform.

“Jen and I are excited to embark on the next chapter of Carve Designs’ story with Kanders & Company,” Sylvester said. “Our new partners are uniquely qualified to provide the industry expertise and financial resources required for a rapidly growing apparel brand to thrive.

Kanders, who is both president and owner of Kanders & Co., said Carve Designs is well-positioned to become a nationally recognized, iconic outdoor lifestyle brand.

“Thayer and Jen have built an unbelievably unique company with a brand ethos that resonates deeply with its customers,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with them as we provide strategic insight and capital to accelerate growth and brand awareness.”

Kanders made his last investment in an active lifestyle brand in April 2015 when he bought out Remington Arms Company’s stake in Mountain Khakis, where he also serves as chairman. He is also chairman and CEO of Safariland LLC.

Kanders also remains executive chairman of Black Diamond Inc. (Nasdaq:BDE), which he created in June 2010 through a reverse merger of privately owned Black Diamond Equipment Inc. and Gregory Mountain Products, and a publicly traded shell company he controlled whose primary asset was net operating loss carry-forwards that could be used to offset up to $230 million in future profits.

Black Diamond Inc.’s share price doubled to the $15 range over the next 13 quarters as the company acquired the Swedish action sports brand POC and launched Black Diamond’s first apparel line. But the stock price has plummeted since October 2013, in line with a series of “strategic pivots” that have resulted in the divestiture of Gregory and POC, the closing of a three-year-old manufacturing hub in China, a scaling back of Black Diamond’s apparel program and the repatriation of equipment manufacturing.

Kanders, who remains Black Diamond Inc.’s largest shareholder with roughly 23 percent of its stock, has said the company now plans to operate more as a holding company and is scouting acquisitions candidates both within and outside the active lifestyle industry. On October 12, Black Diamond Inc. shares were trading at about $5.

Photo courtesy Carve Designs