Throughout February’s Investing Insights, we explored the future of fashion, the shift in consumer behaviour and what the impact of digital means for us. The fashion industry has had their own fair share of criticism over the past decade or so. But it finally feels like there’s a revolution upon us.
Last year saw over $30 billion invested in fashion and fashion-tech companies. This is to push progress within the industry from three important perspectives: digitally, environmentally and ethically.
The Seedrs team are sharing the startups they’re watching in the fashion industry today.
Eduard Steimle – Scale
SPOKE is an online D2C menswear brand that allows its customers to buy trousers and tops that perfectly fit. The company has built a system that can understand the perfect fit for each customer based on an initial quiz. The brand has 11 waist sizes, three different builds (from very slim to leg-day friendly), and will finish off customers’ trousers with their preferred inseam length.
SPOKE embeds every modern consumer’s behaviour. It offers tailored menswear for an accessible price, it allows customers to comfortably get fit measurements from their laptops or smartphones and it delivers the end product directly to customers’ homes. In a few words, SPOKE is making tailored fashion accessible, practical and efficient.
Founded in 2013 by Ben Farren, SPOKE has more than 350,000 customers across the UK and Europe. In 2021 they generated more than £14m in gross revenue. Prior to launching SPOKE, Ben worked in management consulting and then founded a profitable fintech startup in West Africa operating in the payments sector.
To date, SPOKE has raised more than £15m from highly notable investors such as Seedcamp, Jamjar, Forward Partners, Oxford Capital and 24Haymarket. SPOKE will soon launch an equity crowdfunding round on Seedrs, so keep an eye for some exciting updates in the next few weeks.
Karina Mazur – Pre-seed
The fashion industry is the one that has always been heavily influenced by the likes and dislikes of the next generation. TikTok dictates what is in and what is out. Influencers are constantly sharing the links to their gifted items. The ‘That Girl’ aesthetic makes matching gym kits from popular athleisure brands sell out in minutes.
Gen Z is truly dictating how fashion brands design, create and market their products. Which is why it comes as no surprise that sustainability in the fashion industry is a majorly contested topic of discussion. Most recently, Venetia La Manna (bridging the gap between millennials and Gen Z influencers) protested outside a fast fashion catwalk in an effort to shed light on the lack of sustainable and moral ethics of the company. The fast fashion brand was quick to react with a slew of positive PR stories and a promise to soon launch a marketplace for their pre-loved items.
But whilst these big name brands are (rightly so) being held accountable, entrepreneurs in the fashion sphere have long been ahead of the game by trying to create brands and companies with a sustainable focus. This is why I want to put KnownSource in the spotlight. A marketplace not just for your own pre-loved items, but for vintage brands and second hand retailers to have a platform on which they can function. KnownSource is a very early stage player – looking to complete their pre-seed round this year. However, founders Theo and Henry have extensive backgrounds both in the circular fashion world (Henry founded HMS Vintage) and finance (Theo has worked at JP Morgan & Chase).
From an outside perspective, there might be the consensus: “Not another fashion marketplace app.” But in truth – consumers should be offered much, much more when looking to shop more sustainably.
Kasia Cheng – Diversity
After eight years in investment banking, Joanna Dai found herself on a flight back to London thinking about how uncomfortable she was in her clothes. On the back of a 4 am airport pickup, and a day of meetings before catching the last flight back to London, she wished she was in her yoga clothes instead of her corporate attire.
That’s when the idea for DAI struck her – high performance workwear, as comfortable as athleisure, to ensure women can focus on their work instead of stiff clothes. On a mission to end the compromise between looking sharp and feeling comfortable, DAI has catapulted itself to the front of the fashion scene. As a result, they’ve received VC backing from both Closed Loop Ventures & Redrice Ventures. To date they’ve raised £2.17m.
Not only does DAI strive to empower women in the workplace, sustainability is always at front of their mind. In 2020 they were officially certified as a B-Corp thanks to their initiatives like carbon neutral delivery and eco-certified textiles. I’m excited to see how DAI continues to push better functional and environmental standards in the fashion industry – and to finally have pockets in my dresses.
Antony Tikhonov – Europe
Circularity is one of the key trends, if not the main trend in the fashion industry this year. However, recycling technologies and approaches are still quite limited. This seems to be a hard nut to crack, with mixed fibres and plastic-based materials making the recycling process very complex. Many startups are exploring ways to tackle these issues: some are trying to improve the quality of recycled fibres, others produce new materials to replace harmful chemicals used in clothes production.
My pick this month is Kleiderly, an ambitious Berlin-based circular economy startup, converting fashion waste into products like stylish sunglasses and thus reducing the world’s fashion footprint.
The company was founded by Alina Bassi, a chemical engineer, after her trip to Tanzania where she saw the full scale of the global fashion waste problem – a lot of it is transported to African countries where it is burnt down or ends up in landfills. So Alina came up with a recycling process (which is now patented) and founded the company in 2019.
Since then, Kleiderly has won multiple international awards and has been a part of the EIT Climate KIC Accelerator programme. The startup also participated in “Die Höhle der Löwen”, the German version of Dragons’ Den. Eyewear is only the first product line, there’s certainly more to come!
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Discover the latest insights into the fashion industry and who investors are betting their money on here.