Welp, it turns out not all sweatpants are “forever.”
On Wednesday, Scott Sternberg, founder of Entireworld, the Los Angeles–based brand known for its colorful, WFH-friendly sweatpants, announced it will cease operations immediately, with a liquidation sale starting online today. In a public letter to customers and followers, Sternberg called it a “nuclear apocalypse of an ending,” citing the dissolution of an acquisition deal as the final nail in the coffin.
Sternberg, who could not be immediately reached for comment, unfortunately has a history of swift and dramatic endings. In 2015, he announced that he would be leaving Band of Outsiders, the fashion brand with a capital F that he launched in 2004, after reportedly clashing with its Belgian backers and ultimately defaulting on their loan.
Entireworld, founded in 2018, was Sternberg’s attempt to build something more sustainable: a direct-to-consumer brand that existed outside the quote-unquote fashion system, which he has been openly critical of since his Band of Outsider days. Instead of churning out trendy items on an impossibly demanding schedule, Entireworld would provide “the stuff you live in,” i.e., well-made, not-too-expensive basics like T-shirts, turtlenecks, socks, underwear, and, yes, sweatpants that arguably had more charm than something mass-produced. (Coincidentally, I’m wearing an Entireworld T-shirt as I type this after putting it on yesterday afternoon, sleeping in it, and apparently never taking it off.)
For a moment, it seemed like Entireworld had a future. While many brands struggled to stay afloat at the start of the pandemic, it thrived, grossing more in March and April 2020 than in its entire first year in business, according to a New York Times Magazine cover story from last year titled “Sweatpants Forever.” Its colorful, comfortable pieces offered customers a sliver of cheer during lockdown. But what about life after sweatpants?
In the Times article, Sternberg acknowledges that nothing, of course, lasts forever, especially not in fashion. “You have to assume the cycle will change even if you’re doing commodity,” he says. “And how will you keep up with that? How do you build a business that can sustain those fluctuations over time?” As of a few weeks ago, Entireworld’s fall-winter collection, which included slippers, coats, and other new offerings, was listed as “coming soon” on its website. But, unfortunately, it never came.
At the end of “Sweatpants Forever,” Sternberg expresses frustration with potential investors, who — to quote the writer, Irina Aleksander — seemed more interested in leeching onto bigger brands on the brink of bankruptcy, than backing a smaller one that was actually making money. Now we know how all that played out.
“Alas, here we are, a messy pile of bricks strewn across the floor, having a friggin’ liquidation sale,” wrote Sternberg at the end of his letter. “Dare I say, everything must go. So stock up. Enjoy it. Live in it. Love in it.”