Even amid concerns about an economic downturn, businesses across the apparel and fashion ecosystem are still securing new funding to improve all points of the supply chain, from raw materials to the front-end customer experience.
Evolved By Nature (EBN), a company creating a proprietary library of biomaterial-based molecules from natural silk protein, closed $120 million in Series C financing, led by Teachers’ Venture Growth (TVG) and Senator Investment Group. The funding brings its total funding to $211 million.
The company’s “Activated Silk” molecules serve as renewably sourced sustainable chemicals, bioactive ingredients and novel therapeutics for use in markets including apparel, personal care and medicine. The molecules are designed to advance human health, product performance and the circular economy, the Boston-based company says.
This financing will help EBN rapidly commercialize its Activated Silk technology, which is described as “pure silk in liquid form,” and aims to move global markets away from their dependence on synthetics and fossil fuel derivatives and expand the boundaries of regenerative medicine.
EBN, which is backed by Chanel, among others, had been expanding in recent months, closing a $70 million Series B funding round in December, and opening a full-scale manufacturing facility in Walpole, Mass. in May.
The company said it has produced 150 metric tons of Activated Silk this year, a 500 percent increase over 2021.
EBN projects it will reach an Activated Silk production capacity of 900 metric tons of per year in 2024. Based on the firm’s calculations, this would represent 150 million square feet of biodegradable, polyurethane-free leather and sustainable finishing chemistry for 195 million pieces of performance apparel. This would also produce 900 million jars of petrochemical free skincare, or a replacement for 7,200 metric tons of non-biodegradable petrochemical surfactants regularly washed into waterways.
Additionally, the financing is designed to advance global sales for EBN’s sustainable alternatives to the petrochemical coatings used by the leather and textile industries. In the past year, its biodegradable, high-performance finishes have been adopted by fashion brands including Anya Hindmarch, nylon mills including Alpine Creations and Apex Holdings and leather tanneries including Richard Hoffmans GmbH & Co. KG, Cyclica S.R.L. and Curtidos Bengala.
With more capital, the company is aiming to progress its launch of Activated Silk skin barrier-enhancing ingredients in both brand-owned and third-party personal care products. These ingredients serve as natural replacements to fossil fuel derivatives like petrolatum and harsh, synthetic chemicals like retinoids.
In parallel, EBN will pursue the discovery of therapeutics that effectively improve the skin and treat often overlooked conditions.
“We’ve crossed a critical planetary boundary. Overuse of fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals has altered the biochemistry of the human body and the planet’s life support systems,” Dr. Greg Altman, Evolved By Nature co-founding CEO, said in a statement. “With TVG’s support, we can now reimagine new therapeutics and global supply chains that foster healthier relationships between industries and ecosystems, focusing first on skin treatments and high-performance coatings for leather and apparel.”
Alongside TVG and Senator Investment Group, additional participants in the round include existing investors Chanel, Mousse Partners, Jeff Vinik, The Kraft Group, Roy Disney and Emerald Development Managers.
“We believe there is vast unlocked potential in utilizing silk protein to produce innovative and sustainable products of a high quality that will advance the health of people and the planet,” added Olivia Steedman, executive managing director of TVG. “Evolved By Nature has a compelling vision to break through new scientific boundaries to reduce our reliance on problematic chemicals and build better, more sustainable supply chains in the process. We’re delighted to partner with them in executing this vision and growing their operations globally.”
Virtual dressing tech nabs $1 million
Meanwhile, StyleScan, a developer of virtual dressing technology for the fashion industry, has raised $1 million in funding, bringing its total seed-round capital to $3 million.
The company’s leadership said that the financing aids the expansion of its e-commerce software as a service (SaaS) solutions, including the expected launch of new AI-driven products in the coming months.
SaaS plugin ModelSwitch is one of StyleScan’s recently debuted technologies, which is designed to allow online shoppers to preview garments on models across a range of body shapes, sizes and skin tones.
“This makes fashion more relatable for everyone,” said StyleScan founder and CEO Larissa Posner. “StyleScan’s value proposition for the brands employing our tech is straightforward. When shoppers can visualize their purchases on models who resemble them, they’re twice as likely to buy and 30 percent less likely to return what they bought. Put simply, we help our brand partners enhance profits by making their online consumers more satisfied.”
StyleScan’s visualization tools are compatible with asset types such as 2D images, 3D files, 360-degree photos and videos.
StyleScan’s software performance relies on a mix of machine learning, augmented reality, computer vision and fabric physics simulations. They all are built to operate in sync to solve the complex problems of digitally rendering clothes onto myriad body types with accuracy and a “high aesthetic” standard.
The business says its clients include several luxury fashion companies, with “multi-billion-dollar” apparel companies already piloting StyleScan’s tech.
“In Q2 of this year, StyleScan began generating monthly recurring revenue,” Posner said. “With our technology already powering a dozen e-commerce brands, with another dozen expected to launch in the next several months, we are aiming for mass adoption. This is just the beginning.”
Posner assembled a team of mathematicians, scientists and fashion veterans to fill out the company’s C-Suite. StyleScan’s chief technology officer, Hein Hundal, previously was a machine learning and computer vision expert at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory. The company’s chief AI officer, Rob Reitzen, is an AI practitioner and developer of machine learning algorithms. Chief marketing officer Galina Sobolev created contemporary women’s brand Single.