BFC, Venrex Create Seed, Early Stage Fund for Fashion Innovators – WWD
LONDON – The British Fashion Council is breaking the mold, signing an agreement with venture capital firm Venrex that will support innovative businesses and create a new source of funding for the council’s talent and education programs.
The new fund, Venrex BFC Fashion I, will support “non-traditional” fashion businesses with “strong credentials for creativity, innovation and commerce” with early-stage, early-stage or early-stage funding. growth. These will be clothing, technology or sustainability-focused businesses within the broader fashion spectrum, rather than pure clothing or accessory labels.
An announcement is expected on Wednesday.
Businesses affiliated with the BFC and those outside the organization’s network will be able to apply to invest. BFC will act as a facilitator, using its network to bring brands into contact with Venrex. As a non-profit organization, it will not be involved in the final investment decision.
BFC and Venrex did not disclose how much money the first fund raised or plans to invest.
In an interview, the president of BFC Stephanie Phair said the new fund is part of a white paper following a roundtable of investors run by the BFC and Sian Westermannon-executive director, in 2019.
The white paper concludes that “there are many opportunities to grow businesses at the intersection of creativity, innovation and commerce”. The article notes that “highly innovative businesses are not necessarily driven to high growth, but can benefit from talent identification programs and programs.”
Phair said the BFC realized it could “help enable a vibrant ecosystem” by supporting non-traditional businesses.
“The landscape of the fashion industry is changing drastically and as businesses move towards a sustainable future, BFC has a real opportunity to support a talented group of people with different and disruptive business models. when partnering with a fund that has a unique understanding of this complex industry,” she said.
Phair added that when she takes on the role of chair, she wants to take a closer look at what’s happening in a part of the British fashion industry that “isn’t high-end, or high-street, design, but rather high-end design. are brands that are a very, very important part of the fashion ecosystem. To have a very vibrant ecosystem, we have to support businesses to grow.”
Mark Esirifounder and president of Venrexan early investor in businesses like Charlotte Tilbury, Lyst, Oelbar Brown and Cefinn and a longtime supporter of British entrepreneurs, said the hope was to work with “some of the UK’s fastest growing fashion-related businesses”.
Esiri says experience has taught him that the UK’s creative, college and entrepreneurial sectors are “world-class. We have also noticed a lack of available capital for startups and growing businesses in and around the fashion sector. We have found success in supporting the world’s top talent and we are fortunate to have a partner at BFC which is able to bring together not only people from UK fashion but also fashionistas. people from all over the world. We will be able to help the highest growth opportunities to start. ”
The fund will serve another purpose: In addition to investing in fashion-related startups, it will create a new revenue stream for the BFC.
BFC will receive fees and a percentage of the profits earned on the investments, which BFC plans to use for its existing fashion and talent education programs.
In the interview, Phair describes the new venture as a “purpose fund” as it will not only enable the fashion ecosystem to flourish, but also help BFC support emerging talent.
The fund has invested in three companies: Intimately, Vollebak and Digital Village.
Intimately is an adaptive brand for women with disabilities. It features redesigned bras, underwear and nightwear with new tightening technology that makes dressing easier.
Vollebak is a clothing brand that combines technological, innovative and recycled materials into pieces such as the Solar Charger Jacket, which stores and re-emits light, and the Garbage Sweater, made from old bulletproof vest and fireman’s suit.
The third investment is in Digital Village, allowing anyone to create in Web3 and integrate their digital assets and lifestyle into its own metaverse. Digital Village is aiming to be “a diverse, inclusive and friendly ecosystem” that allows members to “refer to, wear, use and exchange their digital assets with the community.” copper”.
When asked how important “purpose” has become in investing today, Esiri noted that Venrex also manages the RCA Innovation Fund I for the Royal College of Arts.
“We feel that the role of investors is to support entrepreneurs rather than causes, and I don’t think that has changed. However, entrepreneurs realize that their customers are often purposeful and driven people to design products and services that meet this need. Many businesses of the past have enjoyed purpose – and have been very successful investments – so I feel like doing them when I consider them less worthy than any mission of motivating people today. Obviously, collective values change over time and the business follows.”
The new fund also fits within the framework of the BFC’s Positive fashion initiative, described as an “engine of change” and an engine for a more responsible fashion industry.
Its aim is to help businesses fend themselves against the future and adapt to climate change, foster an “equal, diverse, empowered” workforce, examine the positive impact of fashion communities and the role skills and crafts can play in maintaining local livelihoods.
The fund is also a sign that life is returning to normal here.
The roundtable and white paper to shape the idea of the foundation took place in 2019, but it never came to fruition because of COVID-19. By the spring of 2020, BFC is on war groundscreated a survival fund from the pool of money that would have gone into the 2020/21 talent initiatives – NewGen, Fashion Trust and BFC/GQ and BFC/Vogue Funds.
During the pandemic, the BFC Foundation COVID Crisis Fund has awarded a total of £1.5 million mainly to design businesses, with part of the money going to students. The BFC also launched a fundraising campaign, calling on businesses and individuals to donate to the industry.
https://wwd.com/business-news/business-features/bfc-venrex-create-seed-early-stage-fund-fashion-innovators-1235058667/ BFC, Venrex Create Seed, Early Stage Fund for Fashion Innovators – WWD