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BFC launches new investment fund to invest in early-stage businesses

Camilla Rydzek
02 February 2022

The British Fashion Council (BFC) has partnered with UK-based venture capital firm Venrex to launch a new fund for businesses that take a non-traditional approach.

The fund, "Venrex BFC Fashion I", and will provide early-stage and growth stage investment for businesses. The first three companies that are receiving investment are adaptive intimate brand Intimately, the metaverse marketplace Digital Village and the men’s outdoor clothing brand Vollebak.

Venrex will provide all the investment for the fund, while the BFC will receive fees and a portion of the return of investment or carry, which it says it will re-invest in supporting fashion education and talent programmes.

Vogue Business reported that the US-based brand Intimately, which has created a fastening technology to make it easier for disabled women to put their underwear on, has received £738,000 ($1 million) in investment. Digital Village, which wants to become a "welcoming ecosystem" in the Web3, received $600,000 through the fund. For Vollebak, which uses science and technology to create functional outdoor wear and designed the first gear for the Mars crew, the funding was not disclosed.

Venrex has previously invested in fashion and beauty businesses and reportedly its Co-Founder Mark Esiri has a close relationship with the BFC.

Mark Esiri, Venrex Partner, commented: “Our experience as investors in brands such as Orlebar Brown, ME + EM and Charlotte Tilbury, and technology/marketplace businesses such as Lyst and Knitregen have shown us that the UK creative sectors and their entrepreneurs are world class. While not all fashion start-ups will suit venture capital’s high-growth business models, we feel that this fund will complement the already significant leadership role that the BFC plays in a hugely impactful UK industry. This is an opportunity for investors to shape the brands of the future and leaders of tomorrow.”

BFC Chair Stephanie Phair added: “We recognise that we have the ability to help enable a vibrant ecosystem supporting businesses at the intersection of creativity, innovation and commerce. The fashion industry landscape is drastically changing and as businesses look towards a sustainable future, there is a real opportunity for the BFC to support a pool of talent with different and disruptive business models in partnership with a fund with a unique understanding of this complex industry. This is a fund with a purpose – the intention is to reinvest part of the carry back into the brilliant pipeline of future talent this country is known for.”

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