Miroslava Duma Launches Fashion Tech Lab with $50 Million to Invest – The Business of Fashion

LONDON, United Kingdom — BoF can completely reveal that Miroslava Duma has launched a brand new enterprise that funds, connects and develops chopping-edge applied sciences and sustainable innovation with the intention of reworking the style business. Funding targets will deal with the fields of supplies science, biotech, nanotechnology, wearable electronics and excessive–efficiency fibres and materials.

The new firm, Fashion Tech Lab (FTL), kinds half of Duma’s quickly increasing empire which incorporates Russia-primarily based vogue and way of life digital platform Buro 24/7, presently revealed in 11 worldwide editions, and The Tot, a US-primarily based on-line store for moms and their youngsters, including yet one more layer to her many enterprise pursuits that span throughout vogue, media and expertise.

The determination to arrange FTL follows Duma’s earlier investments in tech- and sustainability-centered vogue firms reminiscent of moral vogue model Reformation, Finery, an internet wardrobe-working system, and RewardStyle, a monetisation service for vogue influencers.

“Millennials and Gen Z, these are those who demand sustainability in each single space of their lives,” Duma instructed BoF, who added that half of her determination to arrange FTL was pushed by a private quest to discover environmental and sustainable options for the style business, one thing she feels passionately about.

“The vogue and attire business is the second-largest polluter on the earth… I used to be shocked [when I found out] and began to assume what we may truly do about it,” she continued. “It actually had a big impact on me. And having two children at residence, I used to be additionally taking a look at what I used to be doing, and I assumed: Am I actually serving to anybody? Am I actually making a change?”

The outcome was FTL, which is cut up into three arms. “What we're doing, first of all, is socially accountable investing. Then we're connecting applied sciences with the style business, and third we've got an experimental lab, which develops the expertise [and applies it to] merchandise or clothes that shall be modern and resolve clients’ issues – however on the identical time could have fashionable design.”

FTL is what Duma calls a hybrid of a enterprise capital fund, accelerator and an experimental laboratory, the place firms can obtain funding, meet with these within the business and experiment with the newest applied sciences to speed up the style industries’ efforts to be extra modern and sustainable.

Orange Fiber and Ferragamo collaboration

Orange Fiber and Ferragamo's clothes collaboration | Supply: Courtesy

The firm’s funding arm has secured not less than $50 million to spend money on sustainable firms like Diamond Foundry and Orange Fiber, each of that are taking a look at methods to create sustainable supplies that the style business can use like man-made diamonds and materials produced from orange peelings. FTL has additionally invested in a begin-up primarily based in San Francisco exploring the manufacturing of lab-development leathers.

Final month, Orange Fiber introduced a capsule collaboration with Italian vogue home Ferragamo made with fabric from repurposed orange. “It’s something from clothes to scarves,” stated Duma, who launched into nice element about the advantages of the recycled cloth. “It’s a zero-waste state of affairs, no chemical compounds in your physique, no pesticides … With Orange Fiber, the humorous factor is that they work with the most important juice producing firms in Italy, so that they get that rubbish free of charge. It’s a win-win state of affairs.

“The future of our business is the clothes that can resolve clients’ issues,” she continued. “Should you assume of mainly what’s taking place on the earth and all these superb firms like Uber, AirBnB, Amazon and plenty of others … it’s as a result of these platforms’ algorithms are fixing folks’s issues on a regular basis.

"Some of the scientists and engineers we work with at FTL have been hidden away in these venerable institutes and specialist laboratories for many years so their improvements had been obtainable completely for the defence and house industries -- till now."

FTL is a privately-owned firm that generates funding from non-public and institutional buyers and has folks like vogue-tech entrepreneur Carmen Busquets, clothier Diane Von Furstenberg and Livia Firth, eco-vogue activist and founder of EcoAge on its advisory board. It has entry to a pipeline of greater than ,000 applied sciences that embody wearable electronics, supplies science improvements and excessive-efficiency fibres and materials, round 50 of which it presently plans to spend money on.

To this point, Duma has constructed up a workforce of 15 folks, cut up between 5 international locations together with Russia, China, Britain, Italy and the US. FTL has named Amanda Parkes, a vogue technologist with greater than 12 years expertise in wearable expertise, interplay design, good supplies and vogue innovation, as its chief innovation officer.

“FTL Ventures will fill a void within the present panorama of vogue expertise funding and product growth,” Parkes instructed BoF. “Our focus shall be on enabling applied sciences for the longer term of vogue… There are such a lot of superb scientific advances being developed in labs and small firms throughout the globe that may have a transformative impact throughout all elements of the style chain.

“We're satisfied that expertise doesn't have to be at odds with sustainability. In actual fact, fairly the other — science must be seen as a device and useful resource to assist remodel vogue into a really 21st century business,” she added.

Late final yr, Duma travelled throughout the US, the place she met with executives at tech firms together with Google, Fb and Snapchat, to absorb the teachings from its tech sector to apply them to her personal portfolio of companies.

One of Duma’s 2016 initiatives was the Buro Tech Ahead Initiative (BTFI) which is a partnership between the Russian version of Buro 24/7, Russia’s Web Initiatives Growth Fund and the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, typically dubbed the Silicon Valley of Russia. The initiative helps younger tech and innovation specialists to safe funding and realise their digital initiatives in Russia.

In contrast to BTFI, the newly launched FTL has a worldwide remit and is a very unbiased enterprise of Duma’s.  The company division of FTL is aimed toward serving to firms within the international vogue business like LVMH and Kering to join with engineers and scientists creating chopping-edge applied sciences and to combine these new improvements into the product provide.

“The most necessary factor for us is to truly get in, get began, and make the business embrace and collaborate with folks in that world. Our essential objective is to attempt to convey these improvements out of laboratories and into to market,” stated Duma, who simply spoke on the Copenhagen Fashion Summit on investing in sustainable development.

FTL’s launch was welcomed by Carole Collet, professor at Central St Martins (CSM) and newly appointed director to lead the CSM LVMH Sustainable Innovation programme introduced earlier this month.

“There are a selection of nice latest and new initiatives on this discipline, and I'm glad to see that we're lastly gaining a worldwide momentum to transition in the direction of a extra sustainable and good economic system,” Collet instructed BoF.

“Creating and financing alternatives to interface rising applied sciences with entrepreneurship and vogue design generally is a catalyst for sustainable innovation, however provided that sustainability is on the core of the enterprise ambition; it can't be added as a plug in, or an afterthought,” she added.

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