New fashion startups are launched every day, all over the world.
Founded by tech pioneers, most compelling ideas are supported by accelerators such as ‘Fashion for Good’, LVMH Innovation, and our friends from Reshape.
Then, when these technologies and business models start to show results, corporate partners kick in: Kering Group, Adidas, Target, Zalando, C&A, Galeries Lafayette, or PVH Corp.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the top 35 fashion startups in 2021.
Why make these 35 fashion startups the best in the world? Their potential; economic and to shift the fashion industry towards a sustainable path.
Some of these fashion startups innovate in
VR fashion, digital clothing, AI design and styling, and sustainable materials.
Others create new business models in retail,
circular supply chains, innovative advertising, and even recruitment.
Without further ado, these are the top 35 fashion startups to date, the 2021 edition.
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FARFETCH Data-driven Global Fashion Retailer
FOUNDER(S) | José Neves
Farfetch is a global online fashion retailer.
The novelty of the platform is its ability to connect with
top fashion brands, retailers, shops, and stores worldwide, and make their products available online.
The site has raised $194 million (£125 million) in funding from investors such as Yuri Milner, and Condé Nast International.
The brand’s valuation topped $1 billion (£644 million) in March after the latest round of funding.
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LYST Fashion Search Engine for Brands, Stores, Products
FOUNDER(S) | Chris Morton, Sebastjan Trepca, Devin Hunt
Lyst is an online fashion search engine that lets users follow their favorite stores and brands.
Chris Morton launched the company after working as an investor at Balderton Capital and Benchmark Capital.
In January 2014, Lyst announced that it had raised $14 million (£9 million) in funding from Balderton Capital and Accel Partners, among other investors.
You can search thousands of online fashion stores at once, bringing together 5 million products from 12,000 brands and retailers.
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DEPOP Peer-to-peer Social Shopping App
FOUNDER(S) | Simon Beckerman
Born from a social network, Depop is now a trusted marketplace for over 10million users buying, selling, and exploring the latest
aesthetic clothing trends.
This community of creatives, influencers, sellers, and consumers (much like the team itself) is changing the face of retail and is already a worldwide phenomenon.
Peer-to-peer selling platform Depop lets creatives buy and sell unique and stylish things online.
Also popular with micro-influencers and small business sellers, Depop also serves as a social media platform to see what people like, sell and buy.
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FOUNDER(S) | Johnathan Chippindale
Holition is a tech-based fashion startup aiming to help retailers and brands adopt and use
3D technology and augmented reality.
Holition’s latest product
called ‘Face’ is what makes the company super interesting to consumers and investors alike.
Face app enables cosmetic brands to present how products look to consumers, but without having to use/waste any products. 5 of 35
INTELISTYLE Artificial Intelligence Powered Stylist Platform
FOUNDER(S) | Kostas Koukoravas and Michael Michelis
Intelistyle is a UK-based fashion startup that has launched an innovative app that lets users browse outfits online.
Then, the app sync and pair the outfits with the user’s images (bodies).
The brand’s own AI stylists further recommend the best outfits for any given idea – just like an
The app also works by matching online garments (from participating retailers), with the users’ physical
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SNAP TECH Visual Search Engine for Fashion
FOUNDER(S) | Jenny Griffiths
Launched as ‘Snap Fashion’ this shopping platform allowed customers to find new garments based on desired shape and color.
However, the UK-based fashion startup has expanded to include a comprehensive visual search for fashion apparel and brands.
It works by providing dedicated tools – that can be included on retail websites – to brands, designers, and even
fashion magazines and publishers. 7 of 35
GENOSTYLE Fashion Styling Analytics
NEW YORK, USA
FOUNDER(S) | Veronica Cabezas, Ricardo Cuervo
This fashion startup aims to take on the product recommendation problem by applying machine learning to the shopping process.
Genostyle, examined 5 million products, 6.500 brands and has designed a new taxonomy to categorize them, based on 15 different so-called
Customers using the platform receive a style code that indicates the degree to which they skew away or toward the expected/wanted style.
In the process, fashion retailers can read the data and target them with personalized offers.
Genostyle can also examine the retailer’s inventory and what sells best and how the client can optimize its stock.
For example, if your fashion retailing business has 50 percent
“glam” merchandise but that category accounts for only 5 percent of revenue, then you have a problem and Genostyle can help. 8 of 35
SMARTZER Content Tagging Platform
FOUNDER(S) | Karoline Gross
Smartzer is the world’s number one shoppable live stream and interactive video fashion shopping platform.
“The secret with branded content is to obtain as much as you can out of it, and this is where Smartzer does best,”
said the CMO of Halston, Suzanne Hader.
Smartzer is an interactive type of digital video player that lets users click on videos to find the garments and accessories that people wear in the movies, learn more about them, and eventually buy them online.
Karoline’s startup has big fashion brands in its portfolio, including Barbour, Puma, and QVC, who wanted to make their videos more profitable.
The results are impressive: at least 19 times more engagement, 9 times more click-through than classic videos, and, most important, a conversion from browsing to buying rate that is five times more than the pre-roll videos, conform to Karoline Gross.
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SAME BUT DIFFERENT
FOUNDER(S) | Veronika Harbick, Michael Carlson
Custom, personalized fashion is a key trend, and Same But Different – in partnership with Macy’s – allows people to customize their fashion accessories.
From my list of top fashion startups in 2021, this company is the only one with a pop-up store in SoHo.
It is there where the brand is making men’s ties and knit scarves on the spot, with the help of 3D printers.
“we create UNIQUE designs and patterns in just minutes,”
said one of the brand’s co-founders, Veronika Harbick.
The vice president of Strategy and Innovation at Macy’s thinks that this on-site 3D Printing concept is in line with putting the customers at the center of the decision-making:
”IT is an excellent example of how ‘on-demand manufacturing’ is BECOMING the future of fashion,”
completes Leslie Revitt.
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THREAD Personal Styling Platform
FOUNDER(S) | Ben Kucsan, Ben Phillips, Kieran O’Neill
‘Thread’ is a fashion-tech startup established in 2012 with the goal of assisting men to dress better.
It works by mixing personal online stylists with AI and big data insights.
You begin by providing the platform with some of your fashion preferences and how much you are likely to spend on clothes.
The required data includes the size of the clothes you wear, some of your most loved brands, and the styles of outfits you want.
Then, the personal stylist works the AI to deliver users with highly recommended garments of perfect style, color, and fit.
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FOUNDER(S) | Victoria Prew, Matthew Geleta
Award-winning Hurr Collective is a London fashion startup.
The company offers a secure and powerful on-demand fashion platform that’s using real-time ID verification, geo-tagging, and
AI-powered fashion stylists.
The platform makes renting easy while allowing customers to manage their wardrobes in a more sustainable and ethical way.
It also brings together like-minded entrepreneurs who can access great fashion at a fraction of the retail cost all the while making money from their own garments.
HURR has further partnered with several sustainable companies such as RePack reusable packaging, Oxwash ‘green’ dry cleaning, and EcoFleet courier service, to ensure that their fashion rental process is as eco-friendly as possible.
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FOUNDER(S) | Kerry Murphy
The Fabricant is a digital fashion agency leading the
digital clothes revolution.
While the digital-only garments can’t be physically worn (as they don’t exist) there’s no waste created and no people or animal exploitation either; nothing but imagination.
The Fabricant specializes in photo-real
3D fashion design and animation which can be used in digital fashion editorial. 13 of 35
LOVECRAFTS Social Marketplaces for Crafting
FOUNDER(S) | Nigel Whiteoak, Cherry Freeman, Edward Griffith
LoveCrafts is a fashion start-up that builds social marketplaces for the crafts sector.
It now intends to use the capital to fuel new product development, overseas growth, and launch a new marketplace called LoveCrochet,
“a world designed for fashion makers.”
Those less inclined to shop for ready-made clothes will find the company’s approach to knitting, sewing, and crocheting very suitable to create their own apparel.
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WARDROBE OF TOMORROW Sustainable Fashion Marketplace
FOUNDER(S) | Laurenti Arnault, Ru Amiri
Wardrobe of Tomorrow is a highly-curated high-end marketplace dedicated exclusively to
sustainable fashion designers from all over the world.
The marketplace hosts only vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainable, independent brands and designers.
As Ru Amiri, one of the co-founders, fondly put it:
“Wardrobe of Tomorrow is the home of fashion designers that care about people, animals, and the planet.”
Right now, the team is working on introducing its own AI-driven circular business model aiming to let customers re-sell, rent, or even swap garments.
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GOOD ON YOU Brand Ethical Rating System
FOUNDER(S) | Gordon Renouf
Good On You is the world’s most comprehensive brand rating system and online discovery platform for fashion.
It connects conscious shoppers to fashion retailers globally and the platform’s trusted, independent ethical brand ratings solve a real problem for the millions of consumers looking to shop better and the retailers looking to reach them.
Since 2015, this sustainable fashion startup has rated over 2,500 brands for their impact and empowered millions of shoppers to buy better.
They celebrate the designers and makers who are doing good and give retailers the tools to connect with the growing conscious consumer market.
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FOUNDER(S) | Stephanie Crespin
Ever wanted to keep your customers engaged for longer by bringing the second-hand and resale market in-house?
Reflaunt gives luxury brands a slick and intuitive platform to own the growing secondary market, increasing engagement, revenue and reducing environmental impact.
Based in Singapore and London, Reflaunt is showing heritage brands that it’s not too late to go circular and giving them the tools to do it.
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EDITED Big Data for the Fashion Industry
FOUNDER(S) | Julia Fowler, Geoff Watts
EDITED works with brands such as Gap, ASOS, and Target to help them understand the data of fashion using real-time analytics.
For example, you can track promotions from brands and retailers around the world or monitor how consumers are reacting to trends on social media.
The startup recently changed its name, moving from ‘EDITD’ to ‘EDITED.’
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FOUNDER(S) | Nish and Sach Kukadia
SecretSales is an online fashion site for dedicated designer clothes sales.
The platform uses behavioral data to create 70,000 different versions of the emails it sends, making it very effective at marketing to customers.
Sales last between two and four days, and products have discounts of up to 70% off the normal retail price.
Cofounders Nish and Sach Kukadia are the sons of one of the founders of iconic denim company Pepe Jeans.
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THE CHAPAR Fashion Styling for Men
FOUNDER(S) | Sam Middleton
The Chapar is a fashion styling app for men. The app sends regular packages of clothes based on the user’s taste and style.
Customers can try on the clothes and return anything they don’t like.
Chapar stylists work with customers through phone calls and online chats to find out what their tastes are and send more relevant items of clothing.
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GIRL MEETS DRESS
FOUNDER(S) | Anna Bance, Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise
Girl Meets Dress is an online fashion rental site that lets its customers
rent clothing for as long as they need.
According to the founders, 98% of customers who use the site try clothing brands they’ve never seen before.
Girl Meets Dress raised an undisclosed figure from the Samwer brothers in 2013 when the site received investment from the Global Founders Capital fund.
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NUJI Stylish Online Shopping
FOUNDER(S) | Vincent Thome, Dean Fankhauser, Anton Meryl Nithianandan
Nuji is an e-commerce site that sells clothing and lifestyle goods for men and women.
The company raised $2 million (£1.28 million) in seed funding in 2014 from investors including TAG, Seedcamp, Samos, and an unnamed retail investor.
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WOOL AND THE GANG
FOUNDER(S) | Lisa Rodwell
Wool and the Gang is an online store for wool and knitting supplies that doubles as a network for people who like to knit.
The company uses its vast network to produce goods that are sold either via the official website or directly to the fashion brands.
According to Wool and the Gang, around 70% of its users are between 18 and 35.
The young and engaged audience has made the site popular and helped it raise £420,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in September.
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STAY WILD SWIM
FOUNDER(S) | Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk
Stay Wild Swim brand operates by converting plastics found in the oceans and turning them into regenerated nylon.
Much of the production process is led locally in London, allowing the company to support
independent British brands.
In line with the concept of
sustainable fashion and slow fashion, Stay Wild Swm does not operate by the typical fashion seasons. 24 of 35
BY LAURA ELLA Deadstock Sustainable Fashion
FOUNDER(S) | Laura Ella
Unlike several popular
fast fashion brands, By Laura Ella does not condone unethical production processes such as poor factory conditions and underpaid workers.
Instead, the brand sources only from deadstock and vintage rescued materials.
The brand also donates a percentage of its profits to the charity Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian organization that fights for female and children’s rights.
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FOR DAYS Apparel from 100% recyclable materials
FOUNDER(S) | Kristy Caylor and Mary Saunders
The brand operates under a revolutionary closed-loop system, known as the SWAP program.
Any item, under the For Days SWAP membership, can be returned and recycled in exchange for a new one.
SWAP membership initially covered just t-shirts, but the start-up has since expanded to sweatshirts, bags, trousers, and soon,
black tie outfits.
The membership includes free shipping and unlimited refreshes of For Days items.
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LYLIE’S E-waste Jewellery
FOUNDER(S) | Eliza Walter
Lylie’s is a sustainable jewelry brand with goods made from
recycled gold and silver.
These materials are sourced and recycled from e-waste, scrap exchanges, and even dental waste.
Walter heads the only British
jewelry brand that is founded on the premise of urban mining, aiming to draw in ethical consumers. 27 of 35
CUDONI Luxury Fashion Resale platform
FOUNDER(S) | James Harford-Tyrer
With a bespoke service for both, sellers and buyers, Cudoni takes the stress away from the process of selling/buying pre-loved luxury fashion goods.
Powered by big data, Cudoni has a unique, commission-based approach with no upfront costs for the buyer or the seller.
The site stocks rare and hard-to-find designer pieces, such as a Hermes Birkin 35 Crocodile Handbag.
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REASON TO RENT
FOUNDER(S) | Alice Horwood
Unlike most fashion rental services, Reason to Rent works on a subscription model.
The subscribers are allowed to rent three items for 28 days with the cost of postage, rental insurance and even cleaning included.
Simply put, you can refresh your wardrobe every month, on a budget and hassle-free.
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FOUNDER(S) | Isabella West 30 of 30
PRESIZE Size Assistant for E-commerce
FOUNDER(S) | Tomislav Tomov, Leon Szeli
Presize is an AI-based size assistant for fashion e-commerce.
It helps fashion retailers increase their conversion rates by eliminating size uncertainty and reduce their return rate by recommending the perfect fitting size.
To receive a size recommendation from Presize, end-users must answer questions about their body and record a 7-second video of themselves.
The platform gives accurate size recommendations and according to the founder, people buy 50% and keep 50%.
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FOUNDER(S) | Bradley Feinstein, Simardev Gulati
Dropel is a sustainable fashion startup that targets our favorite fabrics, such as cotton, and makes it possible for those fabrics to perform better for longer.
Disrupting performance fabrics, Dropel uses an entirely new natural technology to maintain the things we love about them, the softness and breathability, all while adding advanced performance never before seen without compromising on hand.
By applying their patent-pending technology material science and cotton processing technology they can make clothing
“life proof”, including stain proof and spill-proof.
Dropel leverages material science and textile engineering to create high-performance natural fabrics that push sustainability in the fashion industry and reduce polyester-based microfibers pollution in our oceans.
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VIVIDYE Textile Coloring Technology
FOUNDER(S) | Johanna Nissén Karlsson
There are no other printing/dyeing technologies that take the decoloring process into consideration, which is a crucial step if the fashion industry is to ever become fully circular.
Even though consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be more responsible in their purchase habits, being fashionable is still a priority for most of them.
Vivdye’s concept allows them to work close to the final customers, providing them with access to their fashion desires with a clear conscience.
Unlike other dyeing methods used in the industry today, their technology is designed to facilitate the removal of the applied color when it is no longer wanted without harming the material.
In other words, it makes it possible to decolor and recolor old textiles, giving them a new life.
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THE BOX LONDON
FOUNDER(S) | Natalie Yaffe
The Box London is a permanent warehouse space dedicated to fashion retail events, at the moment only in East London.
The Box London hosts a busy calendar of weekly sample sales from luxury brands such as Fiorucci, Anya Hindmarch, and Bella Freud to name a few.
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FOUNDER(S) | Grace Beverley
Founded in May 2019, TALA takes a ‘slow-fashion approach’ to gymwear.
The brand’s products are made from 92% recycled materials, with the aim of reaching 100% by 2025, without compromising on quality or price.
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DYECOO Water-free and Chemical-free dyeing Solutions
FOUNDER(S) | Reinier Mommaal
DyeCoo Textile Systems is the world’s first supplier of industrial CO2 dyeing equipment.
Together with one of the main shareholders, Feyecon D&l, the company has extensive knowledge of CO2 applications and the design and engineering of CO2 machines.
The company’s mission is to supply dyeing systems for the textile finishing industry, based on superior CO2 technology.
If you have your own startup and need financing, know there are several ways you can go about: angel investors, crowdfunding platforms, bank loans, or startup grants.
The idea here is to go for the best funding option that will benefit your startup, at that stage in time.
For example, if you have an angel investor that expects unreasonable control over your business, the closest alternative is either bank or
title loans. Now it’s your turn…
Which one of these successful and innovative fashion startups is your favorite and why?
Do you know any other great fashion startups that should be included in this article? Let me know.
Can sustainable fashion startups change the face of fashion? If yes, how?
From all 35 fashion startups in this article, which one is your favorite and why?
Please share your thoughts or comments with us, so other readers like you can benefit from your expertise!