The company formerly known as ELeather has changed its name and announced an $18 million infusion of funds to expand its line of sustainable alternative leathers.
Now known as Gen Phoenix, the company has entered a financial partnership with Dr. Martens, and InMotion Ventures, the investment arm of luxury automotive brand Jaguar Land Rover. Also part of the luxury side of the partnership is Tapestry, parent company of higher-end lifestyle brands Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade.
The $18 million deal was put together by venture capital firm and Huue investor Material Impact and comes at a time when investors are generally scaling back. It underscores consumer interest in sustainable materials even in established brands like Coach, Dr. Martens and Jaguar.
Gen Phoenix CEO John Kennedy said that while the company has made its reputation in seating materials for the public (transportation) and private sector (automobiles), it will expand its business with brands such as Dr. Martens and Coach ,with whom they have already worked extensively.
“We find them extremely collaborative and that is the foundation of this investment,” he said. “We have supplied enough material for seat covers in aviation, bus and train sectors and public spaces to know it has proved itself in demanding environments.”
Gen Phoenix has not targeted new brands or product categories so far, Kennedy said. Rather, the company, whose website lists Nike as among the “brands who share our vision,” will focus on its sustainability and waste reduction efforts.
The company has 15 years experience manufacturing recycled leather and will explore new types of feedstock from post-industrial and post-consumer sources, as well as plant-based materials.
As Eleather its products have been used on more than 4 million seat covers worldwide and saved more than 8,000 tons of leather waste from landfill. Gen Phoenix will continue to reduce waste and cut back on its use of natural resources in processing alternative leathers. It has already curbed its use of water and land in traditional alternative leathers by 55 percent and it recycles 95 percent of all water it uses in processing.
ETF Partners and Hermes GPE Environmental Innovation Fund are also part of this round of funding.
The name Gen Phoenix is inspired by the mythical bird that rose from the ashes and has come to symbolize hope and rebirth.
Dr. Martens already has a number of alternative leather styles in its footwear range and plans to add more. The UK company rose to prominence on the license of a German design manufactured on repurposed military equipment after WWII.
“Gen Phoenix’s tech platform will allow us to introduce materials into parts of our ranges that will help us progress our commitment for all our footwear to be made from sustainable materials and achieving New Zero by 2040,” said Kenny Wilson, CEO of Dr. Martens.