The British Fashion Council (BFC) and London-based venture capital firm Venrex launch investment fund for fashion and have announced today that their investment fund ‘Venrex BFC Fashion I’ will support the growth of the business eco-system in the fashion sector.
The BFC’s mission is to strengthen British fashion globally as a leader in responsible creative businesses. Partnering on a fund is a key part of the BFC’s strategy to enable a vibrant business ecosystem in the fashion sector, by now providing access to finance for seed, early stage, or growth stage for a broad range of businesses.
The Investment Fund was a key recommendation following an Investors Roundtable co-hosted by the BFC and Sian Westerman, BFC Non-Executive Director, in 2019, which concluded that multiple funding models exist for different types of businesses. The Fund marries the BFC’s network, unique convening power and ability to engage with leading creative talent with Venrex’s long-standing track record in identifying winning businesses. From a BFC perspective, this partnership serves to diversify its revenue streams. The BFC will receive fees and a portion of the carry, which as a not-for-profit it will use to reinvest in fashion education and talent programmes. Businesses within the BFC ecosystem beyond the BFC Network will be able to apply for investment by the ‘Venrex BFC Fashion I’.
Mark Esiri, Venrex Partner commented: “We are thrilled to be working with the BFC on this initiative to partner with what we hope can be some of the UK’s highest growth fashion-related businesses. Our experience as investors in brands such as Orlebar Brown, ME + EM and Charlotte Tilbury, and technology/marketplace businesses such as Lyst and Knitregen have shown us that the UK creative sectors and their entrepreneurs are world class. While not all fashion start-ups will suit Venture Capital’s high growth business models, we feel that this fund will complement the already significant leadership role that the BFC plays in a hugely impactful UK industry. This is an opportunity for investors to shape the brands of the future and leaders of tomorrow.”
To date ‘ Venrex BFC Fashion I ‘ has invested in three companies Intimately, Digital Village and Vollebak.
Intimately is an adaptive intimates brand for disabled women.
With redesigned bras, underwear, and sleepwear incorporating the newest fastening technology Intimately enables disabled women the ability to dress with ease. The brand does not sacrifice fashion for function and remains stylish.
The Digital Village describes itself as “a recomposition of gaming, social media and e-commerce.” The Digital Village MMO Metaverse (DV) is redefining the construct of society and how we interact with the internet as a community.
The platform plans a launch in 2022 and will allow users to walk through virtual spaces with avatars which further enable them to showcase, wear and exchange digital assets within their community.
Vollebak is a fascinating brand to watch and I look forward to the future developments of this two-time winner of TIME Best Inventions.
Volbeck are “building the future of clothing, using science and technology to tackle the most important challenges of our time – from climate change and sustainability, to space travel and disease resistance”. Their clothing includes T-shirts that turn into worm food, hoodies designed to outlive the owner, solar charged jackets that store and re-emit sunlight
and the first gear for Mars. Vollebak founders are twin brothers Nick and Steve Tidball. Their sustainable fashion is making clothes that will last 100 years including ‘Volebak’s Mars Jacket and Pants’ and ‘Volebak’s Full Metal Jackets’.
Stephanie Phair, BFC Chair, said: “As the BFC we recognise that we have the ability to help enable a vibrant ecosystem supporting businesses at the intersection of creativity, innovation and commerce. The fashion industry landscape is drastically changing and as businesses look towards a sustainable future, there is a real opportunity for the BFC to support a pool of talent with different and disruptive business models in partnership with a Fund with a unique understanding of this complex industry. This is a Fund with a purpose – the intention is to reinvest part of the carry back into the brilliant pipeline of future talent this country is known for.”
Sian Westerman, BFC Non-Executive Director said: “The ‘ Venrex BFC Fashion I ‘ recognises the importance for fashion start-ups who are at the intersection of creativity, innovation and commerce to have access to capital and commercial expertise as well as much-needed support to allow their sustainable growth, build upon creative talent and bring to bear commercial expertise. It’s fantastic that the Fund will align with the BFC’s core mission to support talent in creating responsible creative businesses, with the goal to expand even more an already thriving fashion eco-system.”