Neal MannFocus

Focus: How Innovative Brand Onu Blurs Fashion And Function

Neal MannFocus
Focus: How Innovative Brand Onu Blurs Fashion And Function

Focus explores the creative talent within the climbing community.


Thomas Moon's psyche for climbing is infectious. 

'You really have to hit this spot in Connecticut with us, the rock is so damn good' he says with a smile before pulling on to his project at his local gym. The 36 year-old New Yorker co-founded fashion brand Onu in 2015, after spotting a gap in the market for a brand that blurred the line between athletic and leisure wear.

The label was born from experiences he had a decade prior. "I started to travel by myself and the more I did the more adventures I began to have. At some point these trips became more physically demanding and there was an obvious benefit to having apparel that could function beyond a single use case."  

He began to develop his ideas further after traveling extensively in Asia and climbing at spots such as; Red Rocks, Kalymnos, American Fork, Maple, Smith Rock and Priest Draw. 

"By the time 2011 had rolled around there was momentum building towards this idea of clothing to work, live and play. At that point I started making garments for myself. I found a place in midtown that was willing to create the patterns and do one off garments. From there I would take my garments and travel. Testing the shit out of them, whether it be for sport, or leisure and seeing where they were fallible and where they would succeed" 

That grounding in testing and trialling garments in a performance environment was the beginnings of what has now become Onu - an everyday apparel brand with performance wear capabilities. "ONU is not an athletic brand. We want to make sure we aren't perceived in that way. However, we are also not solely fashion. We are part of a new emerging market that removes sport from performance. More in a fashionable utilitarian space versus a form only space."

 Thomas Moon in Red Rocks. Photo Credit Evelyn Jong

Thomas Moon in Red Rocks. Photo Credit Evelyn Jong

Onu's model is innovative in more ways than than just the garments. Each of the brand's collections is designed and by a different designer. He believes this really sets the brand apart from their competitors "Each of our collections is curated by a different designer from a different background, location, and expertise. While this might seem cumbersome what it does allow for is versatility in today's vapid market. Additionally, it provides the designers with an opportunity to step into the limelight and are recognized for the work they do instead of being smothered by a brand name" 

Since their second collection dropped the label has steadily gained a foothold and a following amongst those looking for stylish performance wear. "We work with and develop a variety of textiles that range in their performance capabilities and construction properties. For example, when working with natural fibers such as merino, cashmere or tencel there are limitations that say a synthetic fiber won't have." Onu is currently available online at onu.is, with worldwide delivery and free returns. 

Editor