London-based fashion tech start up Threads, which uses messaging and social media apps such as WeChat, Whatsapp, Snapchat and Instagram, to offer luxury fashion to affluent millennials, has raised $20m in its latest funding drive.
The business has raised the funds from millennial-focused fund C Ventures along with Highland Europe (an investor in Matchesfashion.com) and will be using the money to expand its business by hiring more stylists, improving its tech and and bolstering its 90-strong workforce.
Threads uses real (not Artificial Intelligence-driven) assistants to help customers with their purchases and the business has deliberately avoided setting up a now traditional website, preferring to use the medium by which its target customers communicated with each other.
It has customers in 70 countries, most of whom are under 35, and it earns commission from 250 luxury brands, such as Dior and Fendi, on the sales it generates.
“I started the business because I believed that luxury retailers were ignoring my peers, the generation of shoppers under 40. I believe the future of retail involves personalisation and chat. People want something that is akin to a retail experience but they want it through their mobiles and they want unparalleled convenience and availability,” said Sophie Hill, a former buyer for Topshop, who founded the business in 2010.
“Social media is already driving much higher levels of brand engagement than traditional digital channels have been able to and we see this increasing in the future, as social becomes the default channel for fashion trends, styling and commerce,” Hill added.
Clive Ng, co-founding partner of C Ventures, said: his fund was set up “to invest in companies that recognise the huge spending power of younger shoppers and also their preference for unique items and personalised content. Threads captures these trends into a game-changing luxury retail solution, with huge potential in Asia and other luxury markets.”
Tony Zappala, partner at Highland Europe, added: “We are seeing more and more that customers want to shop from their mobile device through channels such as Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp and so on. This trend is being led by Asia where millennials and Generation Z are rapidly becoming the biggest market.”