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Fashion Tech Funding Brings $400+ Million to Promising Platforms

In fashion, it pays to be a platform.

Over the past few days, global fashion search platform Lyst, secondhand fashion sellers Vinted and GoShare2, influencer marketing software Grin and have procured more than $400 million in combined funding.

And Digital Brands Group Inc. priced an initial public offering Thursday, a signal that the direct-to-consumer model continues to resonate not just with consumers, but with investors, too.

Lyst

Lyst, a global fashion search platform, has raised $85 million in what the company says is a pre-IPO funding round.

More than 150 million shoppers used the Lyst app and website in 2020, which the company says now offers 8 million products from 17,000 brands and retailers. Gross merchandise value (GMV) traded last year exceeded $500 million, following 1,100 percent growth in new users on the Lyst app. Lifetime GMV for the search platform has now surpassed $2 billion.

“Lyst is rapidly becoming a fashion category leader, which hundreds of millions of fashion lovers rely on to decide what to buy,” founding CEO Chris Morton said in a statement. “While our app and website already enjoy very large audiences in the U.S and Europe, fashion e-commerce remains under-penetrated in general, with huge growth potential globally. We’re excited to use this raise from top-tier investors to continue personalizing the fashion shopping experience to each of our millions of customers, while helping our partner brands thrive.”

The London-based company has not indicated when or where it plans a public listing.

The search platform caters to the luxury consumer, with brands including Balenciaga, Balmain, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, Moncler, Off-White, Prada, Saint Laurent and Valentino.

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While Lyst functions primarily as a search platform, it also provides a source of fashion data insights. Lyst also is responsible for The Lyst Index, the industry report of the most popular brands and products worldwide.

New investors in the raise include funds managed by Fidelity International, Novator Capital, Giano Capital and C4 Ventures, while existing investors that have contributed include Draper Esprit, Steadfast Financial, 14W, Accel, Balderton Capital, Venrex and LVMH. Additionally, serial entrepreneur and strategic advisor Carmen Busquets, who co-founded Net-a-Porter, increased her investment in the company.

Vinted

Lithuanian secondhand vintage and high-end apparel seller Vinted has raised 250 million euros ($302 million) in a Series F funding round, at a pre-money valuation of 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion).

Vinted counts 45 million members worldwide and currently operates across 13 markets—France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, U.K. and the U.S. The funding will be used to both strengthen its existing position across its core markets and bolster its status in new, lucrative markets, particularly in the U.S.

Vinted’s raise comes as ThredUp’s 2021 Resale Report revealed that 80 percent of U.S. consumers plan to refresh their closets once the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

Vinted was previously valued at $1 billion after a $141 million investment in November 2019.

But as the demand for resale accelerates and consumers prioritize sustainable purchases, Vinted, like many others in the resale space, sees an opportunity to step in as a more responsible and less wasteful fashion option.

“We are contributing to a seismic shift in the secondhand fashion market, enabling more sustainable, socially-responsible shopping habits,” Thomas Plantenga, CEO of Vinted, said in a statement. “We want to replicate the success we’ve built in our existing European markets in new geographies and will continue investing to improve not only our product, but also to ensure we continue having a positive impact. We are grateful to our existing and new investors, and believe today’s milestone is a vote of confidence in our commitment to the circular economy and our relentless effort to build a business that encourages more people to buy and sell secondhand.”

Global investment firm EQT Growth led the investment. Vinted is expected to leverage EQT’s in-house digital and tech expertise and network of advisors to continue providing a best-in-class customer-centric experience. Following the investment, Carolina Brochado, partner at EQT Growth, will also join Vinted’s board of directors.

All the previous Vinted investors also participated in the latest round, including Accel, Burda Principal Investments, Insight Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sprints Capital.

Grin

Grin, an influencer marketing software targeted at growing direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, has announced it has secured $16 million in new capital led by Imaginary Venture. The round is an extension of the company’s recent $10 million Series A in December.

The additional funding will allow Grin to invest in channel integrations, reporting, analytics and a new suite of tools to support the creator economy, it says.

The end-to-end platform helps brands find and engage with influencers, deliver product, streamline email outreach, create discount codes and affiliate links, pay creators and analyze the success of campaigns.

Grin was built to counter the growing concerns consumers have in influencer authenticity, according to Brandon Brown, CEO and co-founder of Grin. Brown said that empowering brand teams to own their direct creator relationships is the “only way to cultivate honest endorsements that resonate with consumers.”

Grin cited Influencer Marketing Hub data that the overall influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021, up 42 percent from last year.

The round also included participation from Good Friends Venture Capital, which includes the founders of DTC brands such as Allbirds, Warby Parker and Harry’s, as general partners.

“As a DTC brand, our relationship with influencers and content creators is imperative to our business model. It helps us get the word out to our customers about who we are, our mission and our products,” said Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and CEO of Allbirds. “We’ve used Grin for some time now and when Brandon spoke to us about their plans moving forward, I wanted to make sure Good Friends could be a real partner in helping them reach their goals.”

GoShare2

GoShare2, a Chinese secondhand luxury goods marketplace, said it has received “tens of millions” of U.S. dollars in Series C financing led by Mingyu Venture Capital, with contributions from Tianfu Fund, Yuanjing Capital, Red Dot Venture Capital China Fund and existing investor St. Petersburg Investment.

Like Vinted, GoShare2 is capitalizing on the resale market by eyeing the luxury space.

The company says the GMV of goods sold on its platform grew 300 percent in 2020. According to founder Zhu Tai Ni Qi, the platform has a strong base of loyal buyers and sellers—70 percent of goods comes from existing sellers, while 80 percent of GMV is contributed by consumers who have previously shopped on the platform.

The founder says that 50 percent of the products on GoShare2 are sold within 10 days. The luxury platform enables sellers to independently price goods, but leverages algorithms that can assist sellers with more reasonable product price recommendations. The platform also continuously generates feedback on sales-related data such as additional purchases and views to further assist sellers in getting the right products in front of the right customers.

Zhu said that the recent financing will enable GoShare2 to enhance the services it already provides sellers, such as increasing one-to-one luxury product consultation and consignment services, creating more offline consignment points and enabling more private in-person meetings to get buyers closer to the sellers.

GoShare2 launched in 2016 with a focus on secondhand apparel, before expanding into accessory categories such as bags, jewelry, watches, shoes and boots in 2017.

Aided by China’s luxury-loving Gen Z population, luxury resale still has plenty of room for growth in the region. Luxury resale in China saw 17.3 billion yuan ($2.69 billion) in sales last year, compared with nearly 346 billion yuan ($53.71 billion) in sales of new luxury products in 2020, according to data from Bain.

Buyers and sellers under 25 increased 20 percent compared with last year, the company said.

Digital Brands Group Inc.

Helmed by J.Hilburn founder Hil Davis, Digital Brands Group Inc. priced an initial public offering of $10.0 million Thursday afternoon, with trading scheduled to begin Friday. The Los Angeles company leveraged its roots as a digitally native vertical brand to now operate three premium apparel labels: denim-centric DLSTD, high-end women’s wear brand Bailey 44, and suiting and sportswear startup Ace Studios. Operating on Nasdaq under the “DBGI” and “DBGIW” ticker symbols, DBGI priced its offering at $4.67 per share.

Kingswood Capital Markets, division of Benchmark Investments, Inc., served as sole book-running manager for the offering, while Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP represented Digital Brands and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP acted for Kingswood.