An additive manufacturing startup from Maria Intscher-Owrang, a 20-plus-year fashion veteran whose past credits include Vera Wang and Calvin Klein, closed on a $3.5 million seed funding round, it announced Wednesday.
At One Ventures led Simplifyber’s initial funding round, with participation from Techstars, Heritage Group Ventures, The Helm, W Fund, Jetstream Ventures, Plug & Play Ventures, REFASHIOND Ventures, CapitalX Ventures, Keeler Investments Group and others.
Simplifyber bills itself as “the creator of the world’s first fully-molded garment and shoe uppers made directly from a cellulose-based liquid.” The company’s “novel approach” to clothing and accessory manufacturing removes traditional spinning, weaving, cutting and sewing, it said, “cutting out 60% of the steps and reducing the 35% of materials in the fashion supply chain that ends up as waste.”
“I saw how additive manufacturing (e.g., 3D printing) was disrupting nearly every other industry, but not in fashion,” Intscher-Owrang, Simplifyber’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “I set out to find the people that could make this a reality.”
Simplifyber uses a combination of wood pulp and other plant-based materials to create a liquid cellulose that is then “poured on specially-designed molds and dried, eliminating fabric waste altogether and allowing on-demand, stock-free service,” Intscher-Owrang added. The resulting product is biodegradable, as well as recyclable as both paper and clothing, the company said.
“With its single-step process for clothing making, Simplifyber has the potential to beat the unit economics of polyester, becoming an economically and environmentally viable solution against plastic waste,” Laurie Menoud, partner, At One Ventures, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to partnering with the team to bring this solution to scale. We believe Simplifyber could be the apparel of the future: They are not only beautifully designed but have a low carbon footprint and are price-accessible, which is a significant differentiation from other sustainable clothing brands.”
Currently, Simplifyber said it is focused on manufacturing daily wear items like T-shirts—it professed an aim to “replace” the $25 billion “wovens and knits” market—and shoe uppers. Its past work includes a footwear pilot with the technology company HP.