A new contract with the U.S. Army has KAOS Worldwide outfitting the troops.
The Stafford-based performance apparel company has been awarded its first deal with the Army, a five-year contract that calls for KAOS to supply advanced sports bras to the female troops.
The garments — which are designed to provide comfort, support and protection from heat- and cold-related illnesses — will be shipped to Army outposts across the globe.
“This is an opportunity for us to outfit the troops as well as look at additional applications for apparel originally designed for athletes,” says Bert Emanuel, founder and CEO of KAOS.
Emanuel, a former National Football League wide receiver, and his wife, Teri, formed KAOS three years ago after Bert sustained a career-ending injury while playing for the Detroit Lions. Emanuel was also a star football player at Rice University.
Until now, his company has primarily focused on selling athletic clothing and accessories for men, women and children through its Web site, www.kaos-worldwide.com, and servicing business customers in the law enforcement, firefighting, industrial, commercial and medical fields. The bra that the Army has contracted to purchase, the KAOS Komfort RFI Sports Bra, is also available to the general public.
KAOS was awarded this new contract as part of the Army’s Program Executive Office Rapid Fielding Initiative, which was created to ensure that soldiers are outfitted with the most advanced, technically superior apparel and equipment available.
Because the bra was originally designed for athletics, Emanuel says. KAOS worked with the Army to put the product through vigorous testing to make it applicable for military use.
The bra’s straps were modified to prevent seams from digging into the shoulders, while a band below the chest minimizes shifting and binding, he says. The garment is also made from advanced materials that wick sweat away from the skin and dry quickly.
Emanuel would not disclose the value of the contract, but did say that the company markets the sports bras at $40 each. KAOS plans to supply about 200,000 sports bras during the first year of the contract, which could put the value at $40 million over the course of the five-year agreement.
KAOS has already shipped 160,000 of the bras to the Army, and is expected to continue shipping about 20,000 pieces each month.
“We know there are about 40,000 to 60,000 female soldiers, but we expect each soldier will be issued more than one piece,” Emanuel says.
BEHIND THE SEAMS
Paula Rosenblum, managing partner with Miami-based RSR Research LLC, says that as long as the specifications are good, a small company like KAOS can flex supply to match the Army’s demand.
In order to fulfill the contract, Emanuel has pumped up his employee roster to just under 10 from less than five. Most of the production of the bras is carried out on the West Coast, but Emanuel hopes to one day open a small production facility locally to handle quick turnaround orders and custom orders.
KAOS has also created a new Web site, www.kaoskomfort.com, where both the military and regular customers can order the sports bras and other KAOS products.
In addition to an 800 number, KAOS has built a storefront at its Stafford office on Murphy Road where customers, such as youth leagues and schools, can set up appointments to sample the merchandise.
Other KAOS clients include Houston-based Continental Airlines Inc., whose baggage handlers and runway crews wear KAOS gear under their uniforms; Dallas-based ClubCorp. of America; and Honda of Houston, which has KAOS setting its sites on a bigger client.
Says Emanuel: “We never really identified motorcycle riders as a potential market, but now we envision coming in and designing a private label for someone like Harley-Davidson.”