Unmade, a London-based startup that allows fashion companies to create bespoke knitwear, has raised $4 million in a fresh round of funding led by Felix Capital, with participation from Backed VC, C4 Ventures, Carmen Busquets, Connect Ventures and LocalGlobe.
Founded in 2014 by Royal College of Art alums Ben Alun-Jones, Kirsty Emery and Hal Watts, Unmade employs cutting-edge software to “seamlessly integrate” individual and short-run orders into a brand or retailer’s existing production, the firm wrote on its website.
“This means individual orders can be manufactured at the same cost and speed as mass-produced items,” it added.
Unmade’s philosophy is one of “curated customization.” Through its customization editor, users can pick styles, then “unmake” them by dragging, stretching, pinching or otherwise “disrupting” the default pattern. They can switch up colorways, adjust gradients, pick measurements, add paint splatters (in the case of one Paris Essex creation) or tinker with just about any parameter the brand sees fit to make available.
This way, “brands have control but the consumer [also] feels more involved and engaged in the experience and product,” said Unmade, which has linked arms with the likes of Christopher Raeburn, Farfetch, Moniker and Opening Ceremony.
Everybody—and every body—is different, after all, and consumers want products tailored to their specific wants and needs.
An on-demand model can also help the fashion industry trim back on its prodigious waste, an issue that’s facing growing scrutiny. Burberry recently made headlines, for instance, after admitting to burning $37 million in overstock garments. And in March, H&M announced it was sitting on a $4.3 billion pile of unsold clothing.
The problem, Unmade said, is “too much is designed for averages and manufactured in bulk.” As a result, people aren’t hanging onto their clothes for as long as they ought to. It’s not for nothing that 26 billion pounds of clothing and textiles wind up in landfills every year, according to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association.
But manufacturing can be tailored to the individual, creating a “better future for industrial production,” the company insisted. And investors, for one, appear to agree.
“Brands are hungry for digital opportunities that lead to a more efficient and transparent end-to-end manufacturing process,” said Robin Klein, general partner at LocalGlobe. “With design, technology and sustainability in its DNA, Unmade is the key to that equation, and we’re excited to see more and more innovators in the industry recognize the company’s value proposition.”