Fashion industry giants are busy setting up venture funds. In February 2017, Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton made headlines when it launched LVMH Luxury Ventures, a subsidiary of the Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate for the purpose of investing in emerging-stage fashion, cosmetics or accessories companies. More recently, Net-a-Porter founder and FarFetch co-chair Natalie Massenet announced buzzy new venture capital firm, Imaginary Ventures, which she officially launched last month alongside New York-based investor Nick Brown with an initial $75 million in funding to spend on “early stage, direct-to-consumer brands at the intersection of retail and technology.”
These funds join a much larger pool of traditional venture capital outfits that have been looking to the fashion industry with increasing interest over the past 5 years or so. Most recently, the Carlyle Group invested a whopping $500 million in culty streetwear/skatewear brand Supreme this fall, while trendy eco-fashion has attracted $25 million from investors, such as New York-based fund 14W, supermodel investor Karlie Kloss, fashion industry investor Miroslava Duma, and Massenet’s Imaginary Ventures, among others.
And one cannot overlook blogger-turned-budding beauty mogul Emily Weiss’ Glossier, which, in four rounds of funding since September 2014 has raised almost $90 million, from the likes of Index Ventures, WME Ventures, 14W, and Lerer Hippeau, just to name a few.
With such increased activity in the realm of fashion and beauty-related start-up funding, here is a look at a few of the rounds that were announced this week …
Scentbird Raises $18.6 Million to Accelerate Growth – Scentbird, a subscription-based fragrance company, announced today it has raised $18.6 million, in what WWD calls, “one of the largest series A funding round secured by a direct-to-consumer brand led by a female chief executive officer.” The digital company, which was founded by Mariya Nurislamova in September 2013, helps members find their perfect luxury scent by supplying 30-day supply of “top designer fragrances” – thanks to the company’s fragrance archetype algorithm – followed by the option to purchase a full-size bottle.
The New York-based start-up – which is in its fourth round of seed funding since June 2014, with investors including Alexis Ohanian, Soma Capital, Y Combinator, and Dominion Capital among others – says it will use the proceeds to accelerate product innovation and market expansion with an added focus on consumer experience and new talent.
Choosy Secures $5.4 Million Seed Round – What do you get when you combine Instagram “it” girls, “the most in-demand fashions on social media” and lightning-speed production? You get a bona fide competitor for Zara, H&M, Boohoo, ASOS, Fashion Nova, and the like. Choosy – a New York-based company that describes itself as an “on-demand social shopping platform” where collections are inspired by the garments and accessories in top-tending Instagram posts – is aiming to do just that. Topple the fast fashion establishment, and it has $5.4 million in finding to help.
The budding new brainchild of Massachusetts Institute of Technology gradate Jessie Zeng and former bankers Sharon Qian and Mo Zhou, which is set to launch this summer, Choosy uses a combination of “social tagging (users can tag Instagram posts with #GetChoosy) and a team of Style Scouts” to identify the top 10 trending fashions each week. According to the brand’s site, “new styles will drop twice a week by popular demand,” and the company will manufacture the garments and accessories – which will be priced between $50 and $100 – and ship them in as little as two weeks.
Following a $350,000 angel round of funding in December 2017, which drew XFactor Ventures, Supernode Ventures, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, and Bryanrosenblatt, the on-demand social shopping brand has since attracted the same investors plus New Enterprise Associates, Innovation Global Capital, and Forerunner Ventures as of this week.
Millennial-Favorite Fashion Brand Lulus Raises $120 Million – Fashion e-retailer Lulus announced on Wednesday it raised $120 million from venture capital firm IVP and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Representatives for the Chico, California-based brand say that it has "a couple hundred" million in annual revenue and has been profitable since its first year.
Founded in 1996 by Debra Cannon and daughter Colleen Winter, Lulus – which an e-commerce site aimed at millennial consumers, situated similarly to Asos and Boohoo.com – offers up everything from prom dresses and festival season wares to loungewear and swimwear. Most items range in price from $50 to $100, and roughly 85 percent of its wares come from its own in-house labels.
With its new funds, Lulus plans to support growth initiatives like building out its East Coast fulfillment center, going into new categories like shoes, and increasing its headcount. According to CNBC, the brand, which has begun stocking at Nordstrom but does not main any physical retail outposts of its own, “has no short-term plans for brick-and-mortar stores.” Longer term, an IPO is on the table, though not likely to occur in the next six months.
Maisonette Closes $15 Million Series A Round of Funding – Maisonette, the online seller of baby and children's fashion and lifestyle products, announced on Thursday that it brought in the completion $15 million in a Series A round of financing. The company's previous seed investor, New Enterprise Associates, which maintains investments in Jet.com (acquired by Walmart), Casper, Goop and Moda Operandi, returned to lead Maisonette's first official round of funding.
Launched in March 2017 by Vogue magazine veterans, Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza-Roccia, Maisonette curates children's products across all categories from apparel and accessories to toys, furniture, and home décor.
"Our focus for year one was to create a strong brand and build supply. Now we are excited to partner with these world-class technology investors to continue to scale our e-commerce and mobile technology platform and build a powerful editorial platform to serve our audience as the ultimate resource for both content and commerce for children," says Durrett.