The Top 10 Venture-Backed Fashion Startups

As a spate of disruptive startups inch toward a decade in business, those being disrupted are increasingly turning to acquisitions to better secure their futures. BoF identifies the top targets.

NEW YORK, United States — In March 2017, PVH Corp., which owns globally recognised brands including Calvin Klein and boasts $8 billion in annual revenues, acquired San Francisco-based True & Co., a direct-to-consumer lingerie retailer driven by consumer data. Founded in 2012, True & Co. nudges first-time customers into taking a “fit quiz.” Answers are cross-referenced with millions of other data points and at the end of the quiz, the customer is presented with a personalised shopping list.

On paper, the acquisition makes a lot of sense. PVH owns Warnaco and Olga, two “old school” bra companies that long ago took a backseat to Victoria’s Secret. And True & Co.’s analytical approach can be applied far beyond the lingerie category. In return, True & Co. — which raised just $13 million in venture capital, a relatively small amount compared to some of its competitors — will be able use PVH’s network of suppliers to make better products more cheaply.

At the time of the announcement, PVH chief executive Emanuel Chirico said that the acquisition “demonstrates our commitment to making strategic investments in our digital platforms to support our long-term growth initiatives. We believe that we can leverage the analytics tools of this data-driven company, while leveraging PVH’s intimates category expertise, including global brand management, product know-how and supply chain.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but direct sources told industry trade site TechCrunch that “investors mostly got their money back, but nothing more,” a figure that fell into the “tens of millions” of dollars. While it’s perhaps not the kind of runaway success story True & Co. may have been chasing, the deal reflects a larger trend: to better secure their futures, those being disrupted — traditional old-guard incumbents — are increasingly buying tech-enabled disruptors. Just look at Walmart’s recent acquisitions of startups like ModCloth — and potentially Bonobos.

There’s going to be compelling opportunities for M&A activities between emerging businesses and old-guard retailers.

“We certainly think there’s going to be compelling opportunities for M&A activities between emerging businesses and old-guard retailers,” says Kirsten Green, founder of early-stage venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures, whose portfolio includes Warby Parker, Reformation and Dollar Shave Club, which was acquired by Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion. “The most compelling matchups will happen between companies when the incumbents are looking for brands that have growth and energy behind them. Models that promote engagement, that are good at using data to improve operations, inventory planning, marketing and promotion.”

But while many of these ventures are compelling acquisition targets — whether because of their brand, business model, technology or a combination of the three — others have raised so much money in order to scale that they will either have to be acquired for an amount that does not offer much of a return, if any, to investors. Gilt Groupe, which was acquired for $250 million in January 2016 by Hudson’s Bay Company after raising $270 million, and the bankrupt Nasty Gal, which was bought by UK retailer Boohoo for just $20 million after raising $65 million, are examples of this.

Other firms that have managed to successfully scale but will need even more capital in order to continue to fuel growth — in particular, multi-brand e-commerce players like FarFetch, the RealReal and Rent the Runway — are perhaps better candidates for an initial public offering on the stock exchange, which allows for more flexibility.

So which ventures are healthy, growing and ripe for acquisition? BoF conducted its own internal research and analysis, and spoke with a number of industry experts, to identify 10 fashion and accessories startups that fit the bill.

All Birds
Founded in 2015
Estimated Revenue: $50 million in 2017
Estimated Funding: $10 million from investors including Maveron and Lerer Hippeau Ventures

This fast-growing shoe brand — founded by Tim Brown, an ex-football player from New Zealand, and Joey Zwillinger, a San Francisco-based biotech engineer — flies under the radar in fashion circles. But the success of its ultra-comfortable, wool-upper trainers is evident in Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists and developers alike have adopted them as part of a tech-geek uniform.

According to industry sources, All Birds is on track to generate $50 million in top-line revenue in 2017 and double that to $100 million in 2018. But much of its future success is dependent on its ability to sell more than one style. Right now, Brown and Zwillinger are touting a slip-on that it calls the “Lounger,” which feels like a cross between a slipper and a Vans classic skate shoe.

Away
Founded in 2015
Estimated Revenue: Undisclosed
Estimated Funding: $11 million from investors including Global Founders Capital, Accel Partners, Andy Dunn and Forerunner Ventures

Former Warby Parker executives Jen Rubio and Stephanie Korey took what they learned from that business’s disruption of the eyewear market and applied it to luggage, a category that has long suffered from bad design and over-inflated prices, adding a layer of technology to their under-$300 cases so that frequent fliers can easily charge their phones while in transit.

LVMH’s $716 million purchase of an 80 percent majority stake in German luggage group Rimowa in 2016 helped to spur more interest in the market, but one investor notes that it was Rimowa’s wheel technology — which can be applied across LVMH’s brands — that sealed the deal. Away, on the other hand, has not developed its own wheel technology. Instead, the New York-based Away’s best asset is its already-well-honed brand. On the awning of its storefront in New York’s Soho neighborhood, a quote from Susan Sontag — “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” — sums up the philosophy.

Stitch Fix
Founded in 2011
Estimated Revenue: $750 million – $1 billion in 2017
Estimated Funding: $42 million from investors including Benchmark, Baseline and Lightspeed Ventures

It’s more likely that Stitch Fix, the personal styling service that uses an algorithm to send its customers a personalised kit — or “fix,” as it’s called internally — of clothes on a semi-regular basis, will file for an initial public offering than be acquired. But there’s no doubting it’s an attractive prospect to larger companies looking to tap into its rich data set. In 2016, Stitch Fix told BoF that 70 percent of clients return for a second “fix” within 90 days and 39 percent spend over half of their apparel wallet share with the service. The company also uses data to help create proprietary designs, although it also sells products from third-party vendors.

While top-line revenue numbers do little to indicate how much product customers are actually keeping — Stitch Fix makes it easy to return items in your “fix” that you don’t want — the growth is real. According to private company financial intelligence firm PrivCo, Stitch Fix generated $242 million in top-line revenue in 2015, with a compounded annual growth rate of 76 percent from 2012-2015.

Rockets of Awesome
Founded in 2016
Estimated Revenue: Undisclosed
Estimated Funding: Nearly $20 million from investors including August Capital, General Catalyst and Gwyneth Paltrow

Founded by serial entrepreneur Rachel Blumenthal — and a part of M. Gemi chief executive Ben Fischman’s Launch incubator — Rockets of Awesome has taken Stitch Fix’s business model and applied it to the kidswear market. What differentiates Blumenthal’s venture is the design, which rivals popular kid’s lines including Stella McCartney in terms of quality, but with Gap Kids’ sale prices: $22 on average, per piece. The goodwill generated by Stitch Fix will likely bring more attention to Rockets, although the former could also choose to become a competitor and delve into the kids’ category, as it has with men’s and plus.

Everlane
Founded in 2011
Estimated Revenue: $51 million in 2015
Estimated Funding: $18 million from investors including 14W, Brian Sugar and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

With its drip-feed product-distribution model, clean design aesthetic and focus on transparency, basics purveyor Everlane is the name on the tip of every old-guard fashion company’s tongue, cutting into the market share of established players such as Gap. In May 2016, retail giant Uniqlo tapped Everlane designer Rebekka Bay to lead its efforts in capturing more of the US market, indicating how closely the big guns are watching this San Francisco-based upstart. Last year, Everlane set out to raise a round of funding at a $250 million evaluation, according to Recode, although nothing further was announced. The company has been quiet about its funding efforts thus far, although Recode estimates that it had raised at least $18 million before 2016.

For Everlane, the biggest challenge will be continued growth. (Last year it was on track to generate $100 million in sales, according to PrivCo.)

Poshmark
Founded in 2011
Estimated Revenue: $50 million in 2016, $100 million in 2017
Estimated Funding: $70 million from investors including GGV Capital and Menlo Ventures

The fashion resale startup, which has co-opted social selling and an app-based model to help accelerate growth, keeps costs low by staying out of the inventory game — everything is peer-to-peer — and underscoring the entrepreneurial aspect of becoming a Poshmark seller.

Like eBay, some of Poshmark’s 2.5 million individual sellers have made real businesses out of their accounts, generating upwards of $500,000 per year. Many have also taken to selling new product bought at wholesale, which Poshmark helps to facilitate. But like any marketplace, it will have to keep finding new avenues of growth. (This year, Poshmark is projected to reach $500 million in gross merchandise volume, compared to eBay’s $84 billion GMV in 2016.) Its latest app update, the “Posh Dressing Room,” a virtual personal-styling session between the seller and the buyer, is meant to help drive engagements.

Reformation
Founded in 2009
Estimated Revenue: $25 million in 2014
Estimated Funding: $12 million from investors including Andrew Rosen, Miroslava Duma and Stripes Group

Best known for turning out sharp-and-sexy dresses and separates at a cadence that mirrors fast fashion, but with a distinct aesthetic that sets it apart, the Los Angeles-based Reformation is not only vertically integrated, but it’s also a certified B Corp with an overall score of 100 (median is 55). Chief executive Yael Aflalo, who started Reformation after her experience designing a wholesale-reliant contemporary brand, has been prudent about raising money and expansion, with just five physical stores —four permanent, one temporary — and expansion into categories including bridal and swim.

Kendra Scott
Founded in 2002
Estimated Revenue: $225 million in 2016
Estimated Funding: Undisclosed (Minority investor is private equity firm Berkshire Partners)
Austin-based jewellery designer Kendra Scott famously started her business with $500 out of a second bedroom. But it’s her focus on customisation, an accessible price point (average basket size is $100) and an oh-so-specific retail strategy — most of her stores are in college towns, or in cities or neighbourhoods where the brand’s online sales are high — that have resulted in annual revenue of $150 million and a valuation north of $1 billion.

Warby Parker
Founded in 2010
Estimated Revenue: Undisclosed
Estimated Funding: $215 million with investors including First Round, General Catalyst and Menlo Ventures

A $1.2 billion valuation makes Warby Parker one of fashion’s only unicorns, and it also makes it a strong candidate for an IPO. But the eyewear brand’s retail strategy is admired by mature retailers and upstarts alike that are struggling to get the in-store experience right. This year, the company has plans to expand its retail footprint to more than 70 stores, using the data it culls online to better define its brick-and-mortar experience. “I don’t think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead,” chief executive Neil Blumenthal — whose wife, Rachel Blumenthal, runs Rockets of Awesome — told the Wall Street Journal in January 2017.

Outdoor Voices
Founded in 2013
Estimated Revenue: Undisclosed
Estimated Funding: Nearly $23 million with investors including 14W, Forerunner and Burch Creative Capital

While the bloated activewear market softens, this community-driven label continues to capture the fascination of brands that operate far outside the category, collaborating with the likes of APC (whose founder, Jean Touitou, is also an investor), and plans to open four more stores in 2017 in addition to the four stores it already operates. “Being nimble is the one thing that we have prioritised,” Haney told BoF in 2016. “We are very quick to respond and I think the fashion industry has lost that.”

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The Business of Fashion Touches Down in Los Angeles

In celebration of our latest special print edition examining the business of fashion in America, BoF gathered together the designers, creative leaders and entrepreneurs turning Los Angeles into a fashion and culture epicentre.

 

LOS ANGELES, United States — “There are more creative people here than in any place at any time at any time in the history of human beings,” said Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan in a toast at a dinner celebrating The Business of Fashion’s latest print issue, “America,” at the museum’s Ray’s and Stark Bar, co-hosted with his wife Katherine Ross and BoF founder and chief executive Imran Amed. “This is a very special time and place and that’s represented by so many people I know here.”

The symbiotic relationship between art and fashion in Los Angeles was impossible to miss at LACMA on Thursday night, as creative and business leaders from across the sprawling city came together at a convivial dinner with designers, artists and industry leaders including Tom Ford, Richard Buckley, will.i.am, Lucky Blue Smith, Maye Musk, Greg Chait, Angelique Soave, Rosetta Getty, Kate Mulleavy, Lisa Marie Fernandez, Paola Russo, Karla Welch, Ilaria Urbinati, Stuart Miller, Rachel Zoe, Nick Fouquet and Josh Peskowitz.

Over dinner, many attendees commented on LA’s recent transformation into a cultural epicentre, with LACMA serving as a powerful tentpole. “One of the great things about Los Angeles, because it’s nurturing so many creatives in the arts, is the chance for different designers and artists to interact and have a really great dialogue,” said Rodarte designer Kate Mulleavy.

For many guests, the city’s distance from New York fashion is a creative boon. “We have the ability to be outsiders even if we’re in a very big city and a very popular city,” said designer Clare Vivier. “Even the nature and the geography of the city… we can’t even feed off each other that much, because we are not that close,” added Scott Sternberg.

Elder Statesman founder Greg Chait said that distance, especially within the city, “has a huge impact” on the work coming out of Los Angeles-based brands. “It all feels really unique…I think we bring optimism to the fashion industry.”

Former fashion editor Josh Peskowitz, who opened the menswear store Magasin in Culver City’s newly developed Platform shopping centre in 2016, also highlighted the advantages for young entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. “Because of the economic conditions in New York right now, the amount of money that is flowing into the real estate market… it is very difficult for someone who is self-financed, entrepreneurial and hungry to try something new there,” he said. “You can come here, you can try something new, you can fail and it won’t ruin you.”

“Los Angeles represents a lot of people who dream big and dream differently,” said Katherine Ross. “It’s really nice to have this fashion community that thinks differently.”

If there is any lesson to learn from the current disruption facing the US fashion industry, it is that there has never been a better time to take risks. “It goes without saying that there is political upheaval and turmoil, but there is also technological change, there is cultural change, there is change in the retail landscape,” said BoF founder Imran Amed in his own remarks.

“When things are changing and everything is moving, that’s when we need to seize the opportunities,” he said. The Los Angeles fashion community is certainly proof that the benefits of working outside the mainstream system have never been so clear.

The “America” issue was supported by QIC Global Real Estate.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) Model Lucky Blue Smith, The Business of Fashion founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed, and recording artist will.i.am attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: Designer Tom Ford (L) and stylist Rachel Zoe attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) Model Maye Musk, The Business of Fashion founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed, Designer Kate Mulleavy, and LACMA’s Katherine Ross attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) QIC director of investment management Stuart Miller, QIC head of strategy Skye Fisher, and DB Consulting product strategy director David Bush attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) Designer Nick Fouquet, LACMA’s Katherine Ross, and FreeCity founder Nina Garduno attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) Michael Lynton, LACMA’s Katherine Ross, and Michael Govan attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: Karla Otto (L) and designer Juan Carlos Obando attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 04: (L-R) Recording artist will.i.am, Designer Nick Fouquet, and i.am+ VP Channel and Consumer Engagement Stephanie Simon attend an intimate dinner to celebrate The Business of Fashion’s ‘The America Issue’ at Ray’s at LACMA on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)

From Ricky Martin to Antonio Conte: this week’s fashion trends

What’s hot and what’s not on Planet Fashion this week

‘We’re expecting big things from Ricky Martin in the new series of American Crime Story.’ Photograph: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Going up

Tony in 13 Reasons Why Like Tony Curtis and Bruno Mars all at once. Nice wheels, too.

Big blooms We’ve always had a thing about big, bold florals. Ganni’s collaboration with Net-A-Porter is your fashion florist this season. See Bardot top with orange roses.

Ricky Martin We went loca for him in Glee. So we’re expecting big things from him as Gianni Versace’s boyfriend in the new series of American Crime Story.

Sleep Move over, busy – shuteye is the new status symbol.

Raey’s new store Matchesfashion.com is going bricks and mortar, with a store for its inhouse line in Notting Hill, London. We’ll be there a lot.

Wild At Heart Show your love for the film by wearing the Agnès B T-shirt, complete with David Lynch’s drawing. It’s typically complex.

Going down

Coachella More a series of sponsored Instagram posts than a festival, as far as we can tell. Though we might just be jealous.

Not smiling Even Lana Del Rey is smiling. Anything else is too depressing.

New shoes The Queen gets someone to break hers in for her. If only Dr Martens offered this service.

Hygge On Shia LaBeouf’s radar with his cabin project. Swiftly taking it off our own.

Jeans to show your buttocks Too much – but thanks, Vetements.

Antonio Conte May win the Premier League, but in the relegation zone when it comes to style. The cap or the suit, Antonio. Not the two together.

Since you’re here …

… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever, but far fewer are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

First lady of fashion Melania Trump wows at gala

Melania and Donald Trump. Photo: AAP

Melania Trump is quickly making a name for herself as the first lady of fashion.

The Scandinavian former model wowed onlookers in a stunning Christian Dior off-the-shoulder yellow silk crepe asymmetric dress when she arrived with her husband, President Donald Trump, at a New York gala dinner on Thursday.

The glamorous couple, dressed to impress, attended the lavish event alongside Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull, who were visiting the US to meet with Trump. It is the first time the two leaders have met and follows a well publicised phone call earlier this year, where Trump reportedly described a US Australian refugee swap arrangement as a “dumb deal” and the worst call he’d received all day.

Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull with the Trumps at the gala dinner. Photo: AAP.

However, the two couples were all smiles at Thursday’s gala, being photographed together with the Turnbulls seen trailing the Trumps as they entered the event. Ms Turnbull wore a silver sequined dress, pearls and a black jacket, while both men wore black suits and bow ties.

The gala, attended by 700 others, took place on board the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a World War II naval battle fought by US and Australian force against the Japanese.

The decommissioned aircraft carrier was docked in New York’s Hudson River for the occasion.

Earlier, in the room next door, Mr Turnbull and Mr Trump sat down in front of their national flags for a more official meeting. Mr Trump said: “I love Australia. We have a fantastic relationship.”

Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AAP.

Addressing that phone call, Trump said: “We had a good call. You guys exaggerated that call. It was an exaggeration. We’re no babies. That was a little bit of fake news.” Turnbull nodded in agreement.

Trump also heaped praise on Australia: “It’s one of the great great places. One of the most beautiful places on earth. I’ll be there.”

Turnbull replied: “We look forward to it.”

What We Saw at New York Bridal Fashion Week

During New York Bridal Fashion Week, designers that included Ines Di Santo, Jenny Packham and Monique Lhuillier showcased their 2018 spring and summer bridal collections. New looks that emerged on the runways included a lot of black detail; simple, understated silhouettes; intricate ball gowns; and more. Here is a peek at some of the collections.

Dramatic Flair

Creditright, Yvonne Tnt

Black details and embellishments dominated. Gowns by Reem Acra, left, and Marchesa, right, used the color to add a dramatic flair to the bodices and necklines of their dresses.

Above, a recording of the Reem Acra 20th anniversary runway show at the Tiffany & Company flagship store on Fifth Avenue. See the entire show at our Facebook live feed.


Seeing Red

The designers Jenny Packham, left, and Ines Di Santo sent striking red gowns down the runways. In a sea of white gowns, these rouge dresses stole the show.

Short and Sassy

Breaking from tradition was expected for the designers Berta, left, and Naeem Khan, who featured nontraditional short dresses. See more from our bridal fashion coverage of both shows on Snap Chat.

Simple Silhouettes

Right, firstview

There is no shortage of over-the-top couture gowns. But chic, simple wedding gowns are back in style and the designers Theia, left, and Ines Di Santo prove that you can still make a statement with less.

Love on the Runway

 

 

 

 

Love was big this season. The “Love Is Love” cape by Lela Rose, top, stood out as did the long gloves, above, with “love” and “kisses” printed on them at the Reem Acra runway show.

Textured Ball Gowns

Creditright, Firstview

Tiered and textured ball gowns were all the rage. Naeem Khan, left, added layers of feathers to create a modernized version of the traditional ball gown. Ines Di Santo, right, featured an intricate ruffled tiered gown with a cathedral train.

Fashion’s Big Cover-Up

had under-boob, side-boob and full-on flashing – thanks to Anthony Vaccarello’s nipple pasty-strewn debut for YSL – but is it time for the boob backlash? Modest dressing is on the rise; an antidote to the second-skin style of the Kardashians, perhaps, or proof that we all need a little cocooning in these fractious times.

Modest style (think long sleeves and below-the-knee hems, high necklines and opaque fabrics) has always been the defining style of the Middle East, of course, but now it’s catching on in the UK – and with an increasingly secular, fashion-forward customer.

Take Sienna Miller, who rocked a pair of short-shorts and a strappy vest with the best ofthem back in the day. Now, though, she prefers ‘do not fancy me clothes… The less flesh I can possibly show, the better,’ she told WWD.

And she’s not the only one. In February, the capital hosted the first London Modest Fashion Week at the Saatchi Gallery, where over 40 designers showed collections that were as vibrant as they were covered-up.

The likes of Lemaire, Céline and Preen sent models in long sleeves and ankle-skimming hemlines

And a new website, The Modist, aims to revolutionise ideas of modesty with its thoughtful selection of high-fashion brands. Filled with inspirational photo shoots and covetable click-to-buy designer pieces from the likes of Christopher Kane, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and Marni, the site is anything but frumpy.

‘It’s a misconception that modesty is dowdy and far from fashionable,’ says CEO and founder Ghizlan Guenez, the ultimate poster woman for this movement, who explains that signing up the 70 or so designers for launch often took some educating. ‘We’ve had to share our knowledge of the woman, and of what dressing modestly looks like,’ says Guenez. ‘Many a time this changed their perceptions.’

Cannily, Guenez has avoided defining modesty too strictly, all the better to speak to more women, and she’s been overwhelmed by the positive reception. The site’s biggest market is the Middle East, but the US and UK are already second and third respectively.

‘The most gratifying thing has been the response of women from different faiths, cultures and age groups embracing The Modist. It’s a validation of our thinking that modesty transcends a particular religion or culture that is truly universal.’

As well as long sleeves and hemlines, the site showcases layered looks, which allow the wearer’s personality to shine through. London Fashion Week favourite Preen fits effortlessly into the mix.

‘Clients have always found our style to be flattering, and enabled them to layer pieces regardless of body type and modesty. Our shapes have an effortless style that works so well in this market,’ say the designer duo.

As UKIP announced a burka ban that demonstrates just how much ignorance remains about modest dress, Guenez should be applauded for moving the conversation on with style.

Amazon Fashion President Cathy Beaudoin Exits

BoF has learned that Cathy Beaudoin has exited Amazon Fashion, having led the juggernaut’s foray into fashion after onboarding thousands of brands and overseeing the launch of Amazon’s Williamsburg studio

Cathy Beaudoin | Source: Courtesy

NEW YORK, United States — Just as Amazon is poised to become the biggest apparel retailer in the country, BoF has learned that one of the people instrumental to that growth is departing. After eight years with the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth, Amazon Fashion president Cathy Beaudoin exited the company last week.

“Cathy Beaudoin has decided to step down from her position as President of Amazon Fashion,” said a spokesperson for Amazon Fashion. “Given the momentum of the business and strength of the team, she’s decided now is the right time to pass the baton. We thank Cathy for her tremendous contributions to Amazon Fashion and wish her all the best.”

A successor will be named soon. Chief marketing officer Jennie Perry, who worked closely with Beaudoin, remains in her role.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos hired Beaudoin in 2008 from Gap’s Piperlime, an e-commerce brand she co-founded, to lead Amazon’s push into the fashion market and build relationships with brands. She was named president of the fashion division in 2012.

Bezos’ fashion ambitions, motivated by the category’s rapid online sales growth, have been a priority over the last five years as Amazon gobbles up market share, which Morgan Stanley projects will reach 19 percent by 2020. Amazon’s apparel sales will increase 30 percent in 2017 to $28 billion, according to a report by Cowen & Co.

But it hasn’t been an easy climb. “None of the algorithms Amazon built are applicable to fashion,” Beaudoin told columnist Dan Woog in 2015. (At that juncture, she was overseeing more than 1,000 employees serving 40 million customers.) “For a company like this, which believes so strongly in its formula and playbook, this was counter-cultural.”

Beaudoin was not only tasked with educating Amazon itself on the marketing and distribution of apparel, but also on educating the fashion industry about Amazon. She oversaw the opening of Amazon Fashion’s 40,000-square-foot photo and video studio in Williamsburg in 2013, created as a headquarters for Amazon’s growing need for product images. She targeted contemporary, mid-range and denim labels (including Theory and J Brand) to join a growing list of thousands of brands, many of which were also sold on Amazon subsidiaries Shopbop and Zappos.

Luxury brands, however, have been harder to woo. LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony told analysts in October that “there is no way” the conglomerate will do business with Amazon.

During Beaudoin’s tenure, Amazon entered several strategic partnerships to beef up its high-end fashion credibility, sponsoring New York Fashion Week: Men’s with the CFDA, the Met Gala in 2012, as well as international fashion weeks in India and Japan. It also picked up “The Fashion Fund” unscripted series documenting the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2015.

Recently, Amazon has turned its attention to expanding its private label apparel offerings and has launched seven in-house lines, including lingerie and activewear. Products are developed quickly and based on consumer data, allowing for rapid iteration. Just last month, Amazon won a patent for an on-demand textile manufacturing system that could further the efficiency of its apparel business.

Amazon released it first quarter 2017 results last week, which saw sales increase 23 percent to $35.7 billion, while operating income decreased 6 percent to $1.0 billion. The company does not break out sales for fashion and apparel.

“Time is our real competitor,” said Beaudoin to Bloomberg in 2015. “When we present a category well, [customers] respond, and that’s effectively what’s happened with our fashion business.”