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Established over 20 years ago.Who are Urban Industry? Click to read more.

The History of KAVU: An Exclusive Interview With Founder Barry Barr

Jun 13, 2023

Urban Industry has been stocking KAVU for several years, drawn to the accessible light outdoorswear, unique accessories, graphic tee designs, and in the colder months, the range of fleeces. 

Check out the full Kavu collection here.

Knowing that KAVU has an interesting background, we decided to look into this further, and were granted an exclusive interview with Founder Barry Barr. 

Kavu at Urban IndustryTalk us through a day in the life of a Brand Owner in Seattle?

Well a day in the life I like to say that I am a janitor as no job is above my status. I like to lead by example by showing the team that it takes all of us to keep things in order and working smoothly, even if it is cutting down boxes or taking out the garbage.   

 I arrive at the office around 8am and jump on emails and walk around and talk to everyone. At KAVU we have a great culture of sharing what each department is doing so there are no “islands” out there. I then have a call list I look at and decide if I want to make calls. At noon a bunch of us go running or do some sort of exercise through lunch. Fridays are our favourite days here at KAVU as we go out to one of our local beaches and do a “work, play, plunge”. We work out for 30 minutes then go swimming in the Salish Sea which is 50 degrees F. It gets everyone energised and feeling good headed into the weekend.  Most importantly if it is nice out we like to ditch out to go have KAVU days.

Kavu at Urban IndustryHow would you describe Kavu to a first time buyer?

I would describe KAVU to a buyer first by explaining the feeling of a KAVU day, a day where there is not a cloud in the sky and you can see forever. Basically, environmental perfection where you want to get outside and make the most out of every second.  A day you grab your friends or family and head to a lake, hike, beach, trail or whatever brings a smile to your face. After having so much fun that day you finish it with a smile and that is a KAVU day. Our apparel and products are made for those types of days and should exude that feeling in them.

Kavu at Urban IndustryDo you have a favourite product, other than the original StrapCap, that you’re particularly proud of?

My favorite products are the Chilliwack short, StrapCap and our Festaruski shirts. The Festaruski fit my personality as they are so fun and change so much every season.

KAVU started out with hats, specifically the StrapCap Cap, when did you realize you could develop Kavu into a clothing brand?

Ha that is funny when I started KAVU I never aspired to do clothing.  I was focused on being the best hat and accessory brand in the outdoor specialty market. I was scared to do clothing because I had only heard horror stories of productions having issues like buttons popping off, or sizing way off. I got over that quick enough and my first clothing venture was the best short that we could build and I could wear year round. That product was the Chilliwack shorts which led to Chilliwack pants and they are classic heritage items that are still in the line today.

Kavu at Urban IndustrySay the brand didn’t take off, what was Plan B?

If the KAVU brand didn’t take off I was going to maintain fishing and move to Alaska and fish many different fisheries year round. I was lucky that the customers loved the KAVU product and brand along with great staff and a lot of luck. That is what kept us going.

Having never been to Seattle, but I've always wanted to go, are there any places you would recommend? 

If I can pick some of my favourite spots in the world it would be Bilbao Spain and Roche Harbor Washington. Roche Harbor is where I grew up on San Juan Island. San Juan is the northernmost Islands in the Salish Sea that border Canada. The waters provide food such as crab, oysters, clams, mussels, salmon, cod that you can catch yourself. The island waters are protected from big ocean swells which make it an absolutely amazing spot. 


Kavu at Urban Industry

What does the future hold for KAVU?

The future is selling the KAVU lifestyle and philosophy around the world.  It is really fun to sell something that you grew up with the KAVU way of life.  My family always put having fun and nature way before work or financial success.

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