20 Trending Fashion Startups

by Josh Howarth - April 8, 2021

Due to the global upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic, the fashion industry’s profits likely took a hit in 2020, according to McKinsey’s & Company’s State of Fashion 2021. But there are bright spots in the industry’s future, despite its current rocky state. Also, per the McKinsey report, digital fashion channels may see growth upwards of 20 percent (even higher for the U.S. and Europe in 2021).

We’ve researched and compiled information on 20 fashion startups primed to profit off of the expected rise in digital channels and other up-and-coming shifts in the fashion world. Read on for funding information and more on these notable companies.

1. Allbirds

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5-year search growth: 900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $202.5M (Series E)

What they do:

Allbirds creates footwear, apparel, and accessories, most notably a model of wool sneakers. The brand puts a heavy focus on using natural materials and prioritizing sustainability from manufacturing to packaging. Allbirds’ founders include native New Zealander Tim Brown and engineer Joey Zwilinger.

2. Savage X Fenty

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5-year search growth: 4900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: El Segundo, California

Funding: $185M (Series B)

What they do:

Savage X Fenty is a lingerie and apparel company founded and run by famous music artist Rihanna, aka Robyn Rihanna Fenty. The company’s key focus is to revolutionize the lingerie space by offering a wide range of styles at affordable prices. In February 2021, Savage X Fenty hit a whopping $1 billion valuation.

3. Depop

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5-year search growth: 204%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2011

Location: London, England

Funding: $105.6M (Series C)

What they do:

Depop is a web and mobile marketplace connecting buyers with sellers to exchange apparel and accessories from top brands. The app encompasses a worldwide community of users and originally evolved from a social network that allowed people to purchase items seen in PIG magazine, a publication co-founded by Depop founder Simon Beckerman.

4. StockX

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5-year search growth: 8,100%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Funding: $435M (Series E)

What they do:

StockX offers a virtual marketplace specializing in rare and popular sneakers, in addition to apparel and other sought-after items. On the platform, users can purchase and sell items with a transparent live bidding method. StockX touts secure transactions, guaranteed authenticity, and global reach. The company’s valuation was $2.8B as of December 2020.

5. NA-KD

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5-year search growth: 208%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Funding: $88.5M (Series B)

What they do:

NA-KD.com is a fashion marketplace founded in Sweden. The website’s inventory includes products from well-known, established brands, such as Levi’s and Calvin Klein, in addition to unique collaborations with social media influencers. Entrepreneur and founder Jarno Vanhatapio has considerable experience in e-commerce, having founded successful e-commerce businesses ZooZoo.com and Nelly.com.

6. Mejuri

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5-year search growth: 1,733%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2013

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Funding: $28M (Series B)

What they do:

Mejuri is a DTC jewelry startup that focuses on affordable luxury pieces not just for special occasions but for daily wear. Mejuri prioritizes quality craftsmanship alongside socially conscious production practices, with partners in Toronto, Canada; Seoul, Korea; Arezzo, Italy, and more. Noura Sakkijha and her husband, Majed Masad, founded the company in 2013.

7. Everlane

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5-year search growth: 346%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2010

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $1.2M (Series D)

What they do:

Everlane is an apparel company that designs and produces items for both women and men. The fashion brand focuses on creating well-made items that are also made in a socially responsible manner, and they partner exclusively with factories that demonstrate ethical practices when it comes to wages, working environment, and work hours. Founder/CEO Michael Preysman started the company when he was 25, working with former CTO and co-founder Jesse Farmer to build the business.

8. FIGS

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5-year search growth: 440%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Santa Monica, CA

Funding: $75M (Series B)

What they do:

FIGS is a medical uniform clothing business offering high-quality and comfortable scrubs, lab coats, face masks, activewear, and more. The company was founded by Heather Hasson and Trina Spear and grew out of Hasson’s epiphany that traditional scrubs were unpleasant and uncomfortable to wear for long medical shifts.

9. Universal Standard

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5-year search growth: 1066%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $8.5M (Series A)

What they do:

Universal Standard is an apparel company focused on providing fashion for all women. The brand’s “universal sizing” is based on a more realistic look at female body types in the U.S., with options ranging from 4XS to 4XL. Universal Standard was co-founded by Polina Veksler and Alex Waldman, who wanted to give women of all sizes a quality, rewarding shopping experience.

10. Lunya

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5-year search growth: 391%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2012

Location: Santa Monica, CA

Funding: Unknown

What they do:

Lunya sells quality, elevated sleepwear using its own fabrics, such as washable silk, hypoallergenic wool, and antimicrobial pima, designed specifically for comfort and wearability. Ashley Merril, who founded Lunya and its brother company Lahgo, originally aimed to offer women a better, more thoughtfully created alternative to traditional sleepwear options.

11. Bolt Threads

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5-year search growth: 283%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2009

Location: Emeryville, California

Funding: $218.1M (Series D)

What they do:

Bolt Threads creates innovative materials with a focus on preserving the environment and reducing the impact of the textile industry. Materials they’ve produced include Mylo, a leather alternative made out of mycelium, and b-silk protein, a bioengineered substance used in skin and hair care products. Bolt Threads was founded by Dan Widmaier, Ph.D., and David Breslauer, Ph.D.

12. Trouva

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5-year search growth: 227%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: London, England

Funding: $35.8M (Series Unknown)

What they do:

Trouva is a virtual marketplace where people can purchase clothing and more from independent brands and boutiques. The e-commerce platform is supported in part by investors with experience at Net-A-Porter, Secret Escapes, and other successful companies. Trouva was co-founded by Mandeep Singh, Alex Loizou, and Glen Walker to connect consumers with unique products from brick-and-mortar shops.

13. Pomelo

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5-year search growth: 1,600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Funding: $83.6M (Series C)

What they do:

Pomelo is a Bangkok-based fashion company that offers current styles at reasonable prices for a global customer base. Pomelo was founded by David Jou, whose previous pursuits include co-founding e-commerce and technology company Lazada and spending time at New Mountain Capital and Bain & Company.

14. Grailed

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5-year search growth: 128%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $16.5M (Series A)

What they do:

Grailed is a buy-and-sell e-commerce platform for menswear with a sister platform, Heroine, focused on women’s clothing. The company, founded by Jake Metzger, Julian Connor, and Arun Gupta, was started to provide a more usable menswear forum experience.

15. ManiMe

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5-year search growth: 13%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Santa Monica, California

Funding: $8.6M (Series Unknown)

What they do:

ManiMe is an at-home manicure company that produces and delivers stick-on gel manicure sets. The startup leverages 3D technology in creating their nails, which require less time to apply than traditional salon services and last up to 2 weeks. ManiMe was founded by former Stanford Graduate School of Business students Jooyeon Song and David Miro Llopis.

16. Lookiero

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5-year search growth: 4,400%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Bilbao, Spain

Funding: $23.6M (Series Unknown)

What they do:

Lookiero is a clothing curation and personal shopping company targeted at women in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Like U.S. competitor StitchFix, users of Lookiero received a customized box of clothing tailored to their preferences. Lookiero snagged a €17 million investment in late 2019 with ambitions to use the money to grow its reach.

17. Cudoni

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: London, England

Funding: £6.6M (Series Unknown)

What they do:

Cudoni is an online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell previously owned luxury items. One of Cudoni’s differentiators is their focus on making the selling experience stress-free and straightforward for their users. Founded by James Harford-Tyrer, Cudoni’s investors include Vita Coco CEO Giles Brook and Capital One founder Matt Cooper.

18. Dolls Kill

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5-year search growth: 289%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: San Francisco, CA

Funding: $61.6M (Series B)

What they do:

Dolls Kill is an apparel and accessories company with an e-commerce presence and retail stores that sell clothing for “misfits.” The company features collections created around specific personality aesthetics, or “dolls,” with a focus on club and festival clothing. Founded by husband and wife Shoddy Lynn and Bobby Farahi, Dolls Kill received a $40M investment from venture company Sequoia in 2019.

19. Queenly

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5-year search growth: 305%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2019

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $800K (Pre-seed)

What they do:

Queenly is a peer-to-peer e-commerce site and mobile app focused on matching women with the right formal wear for their prom, wedding, or other formal events. Despite its launch during a global pandemic, Queenly saw upwards of half a million in sales and tens of thousands of daily site visitors in 2020, according to Kathy Zhou and Trisha Bantigue, the company’s co-founders.

20. presize.ai

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Munich, Germany

Funding: $2M (Seed Round)

What they do:

Presize.ai is a fashion tech company that developed a way to determine body measurements and deliver clothing size recommendations via targeted questions and mobile video. The technology, powered by new information on deep learning and computer vision, aims to help e-commerce site owners increase sales and reduce returns. Presize.ai’s investors include German entities UnternehmerTUM and seed + speed Ventures, as well as Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play.

Conclusion

As consumers’ needs and attitudes change, the world of fashion shifts alongside them.

From startups that prioritize ethical supply chains to brands that champion inclusive sizing, these 20 companies are perfect examples of businesses with the foresight and intuition to provide customers with the products, experiences, and mission statements that will resonate with them.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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