Sustainable fashion brands Boyish Jeans and Paskho faced off in a startup pitch competition hosted by Fashinnovation, a global platform connecting fashion innovators, in partnership with e-commerce help desk technology Gorgias.
The two brands, which were selected as finalists using a submission-based system to narrow down prospective brands, pitched their business plans to a panel of venture capital (VC) judges at the platform’s Worldwide Talks 2020 NYFW program. Madeline Keulen of Victress Capital and David Rogg of Reformation Partners served as the judges.
Both brands are competing for capital and industry recognition. The complete package includes a closed-door meeting with a VC investor, three months of Gorgias service; a free audit of their Facebook ads from ad agency Mutesix; a web agency CRO audit from strategists BlueStout; three months of free backups for Shopify from data service company Rewind; and discounted e-commerce marketing services from Omnisend. The panel will select a winner in the coming days.
Jordan Nodarse, founder and creative director of Boyish Jeans, highlighted the company’s growing popularity in the denim space despite being just two years old. Within its first year, the brand launched in major retailers such as Nordstrom as well as small boutiques. Nodarse’s technical knowledge of denim was integral to pushing the brand forward. In 2019, he was named a Rivet 50 honoree.
“I was lucky enough to start my career and be a jack of all trades in everything from pattern making to production to design to wash coordination and fabric development,” he said, adding that working for ethical clothing brand Reformation helped him understand the ins and outs of sustainable fashion and get creative with fabric innovations. “There, I was able to identify the way to blend fibers together, which wasn’t an easy thing to do.”
Nodarse reviewed the brand’s accolades, including its 100 percent carbon-neutral status and fully mapped supply chain. His plans for the future are to follow through on the brand’s transparency efforts and grow the direct-to-consumer business.
Nodarse’s presentation was followed by one from Paskho founder Patrick Robinson, who discussed the travel-centric clothing brand’s pivot during the Covid-19 pandemic. After seeing the unemployment rate skyrocket, Robinson was inspired to launch its Community-Made line—essentially a platform—that connects consumers directly with the individuals who make their clothes. For the initiative, he tapped local, recently unemployed makers to work on the collection.
“We’ve become a disposable society that thinks everything—especially clothes—is all disposable,” he said. “We also don’t value the people that make them. We definitely don’t value them overseas and we don’t value them here. This platform is going to allow you to have a conversation with the people who made [your clothes].”
Robinson added that the makers are paid $25-$35 an hour and given equity to motivate them to perform at their best and give them a sense of ownership in the company. The platform launched in July, with shipments starting at the end of September. By the end of Q2 of 2021, the Community-Made line will make up 65 percent of Paskho products.