INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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FEATURE | 7 VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDS IN THE GLOBAL FASHION CONSUMER FIELD TELL YOU HOW TO EMBRACE "OPEN INNOVATION"

August 30,2019

We took stock of 7 venture capital funds of well-known enterprises in the global fashion consumer field, explored the trends of direct investment that they do, and summarized how they are absorbing external innovation culture and embracing open innovation through strategic cooperation, investment and M&A. The 7 companies and their venture capital funds are:

  • BOLD by L'oreal:  French cosmetic giant L'Oreal founded the BOLD venture capital fund in December 2018, aiming to make minority investments in startups with high growth potential in marketing, research, innovation, digital, retail, communications, supply chain and packaging, while providing them with professional knowledge, group networking and training guidance.
  • Luxury Ventures by LVMH: French Luxury giant LVMH launched its venture capital fund Luxury Ventures in 2017, aiming to create more value by acquiring minority stakes in iconic emerging brands.
  • Unilever Ventures by Unilever: Unilever Ventures, the venture capital and private equity arm of European consumer goods giant Unilever, invests in early-stage promising companies in the areas of personal care, e-commerce and digital transformation.
  • ASICS Ventures Corporation by Asics:  Asics, a Japanese established sport brand announced the establishment of Asics Ventures Corporation, a venture capital arm headquartered in Kyoto.
  • H&M Co:Lab by H&M: Swedish fast fashion giant H&M established its venture capital H&M Co:Lab in 2014, with an average investment amount of $1 million.
  • GreenTech AB by Ikea: IKEA GreenTech AB is a venture capital firm that invests mainly in green technology companies with the aim of improving the sustainability of IKEA's business activities. Funds under management is about 500 million Swedish kronor (about 60 million euros).
  • Danone Manifesto Ventures by Danone: Founded in late 2016 by Danone, a French food and beverage giant, Danone Manifesto Ventures aims to achieve healthy and sustainable growth by partnering with innovative food and beverage companies.

 

New technologies

  • L'Oreal Embrace AI

In December 2018, L'Oreal group announced BOLD's first investment in Sillages Paris, a French startup offering online services to create customised fragrances based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is worth mentioning that in addition to BOLD’s investment, L'Oreal group had also invested in Founders Factory, a London based startup accelerator in October 2016, focusing on supporting beauty technology startups. In January 2017, L'Oreal group and Founders Factory jointly invested in five technology startups: InsitU, Preemadonna, Tailify, Veleza and Cosmose -- within this group,the consistent feature is the use of Internet and mobile technologies to market products.

New Business

  • LVMH sets foot in street sportswear

In February 2018, LVMH Luxury Ventures announced its investment in StadiumGoods.com, a New York based premier sneaker and streetwear marketplace. 

  • Unilever gears up for a new generation of nutrition products

In April 2019, Nutrafol, a fast-growing non-prescription hair health brand, announced $35 million in series B funding. The latest investment round is led by L Catterton with participation from existing investor Unilever Ventures. 

In addition, Unilever in April 2019 announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire OLLY Nutrition, a premium U.S.-based wellbeing business in the vitamins, minerals, and supplements (VMS) category. In 2018,  Unilever acquired a 75% stake in the Italian personal care and wellbeing business, Equilibra. The deals are a sign that Unilever is systematically positioning its nutritional supplement brands to address the health needs of a new generation of consumers.

  • Danone expand its presence in the emerging health food sector

In February 2018, Danone Manifesto Ventures invested in Harmless Harvest, a U.S. leader in the Premium Coconut Water Category. In November 2017, Danone Manifesto Ventures invested in Kona Deep, a new brand of deep ocean bottled water naturally rich in electrolytes. In September 2017, Danone Manifesto Ventures invested in Yooji, a French organic baby food startup. 

New Customers

  • Unilever aims to attract millennial consumers and Internet consumers 

Unilever led a $3 million seed round of investment in Beauty Bakerie. Founded in 2011 by Cashmere Nicole, Beauty Bakerie describes its cosmetics as "cruelty-free", marketed to a millennial customer base. In August 2017, Unilever Ventures invested in German online cleaning service startup - Helpling. The company says, it is analysing how to use relevant data generated on its platform to help Unilever reach more consumers on the Internet.

New materials

  • Asics commits to developing new materials and products

In February 2018, ASICS Ventures Corporation announced that it invested in Ai Silk Corporation, a Japanese start-up affiliated with Tohoku University that is developing conductive textiles.

Green and sustainability 

  • Green is the new black! LVMH, H&M, IKEA invest in sustainable industries

In January 2019, LVMH Luxury Ventures took a minority stake in Gabriela Hearst, which focuses on sustainable development in the manufacturing process of luxury goods. The clothing from Gabriela Hearst is made from wool sourced from family farms and packaged in 100% biodegradable plastic.

In November 2017, H&M Co:Lab invested in ADAY, a fast growing direct-to-consumer brand creating consciously designed, technical clothing. ADAY's factories in Italy, Portugal and Los Angeles conserve energy by using solar energy, recycled waste and closed-loop energy facilities.

In October 2017, H&M Co:Lab invested in Re:newcell, a Swedish textile recycling company. Re:newcell’s new technology dissolves used cotton and other natural fibers into a new biodegradable wood pulp. It can be turned into textile fiber and fed into the textile production cycle, and significantly extend the use of existing human resources.

In September 2016, IKEA GreenTech invested in Terramera Inc., a Vancouver-based sustainable agriculture cleantech company developing sustainable plant based pest and disease control solutions to serve both conventional and organic farmers. 

 

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