02 February 2022

Today, the British Fashion Council (BFC) and London-based venture capital firm Venrex announce their investment fund Venrex BFC Fashion I to support the growth of the business eco-system in the fashion sector.

The BFC’s mission is to strengthen British fashion globally as a leader in responsible creative businesses. Partnering on a fund is a key part of the BFC’s strategy to enable a vibrant business ecosystem in the fashion sector, by now providing access to finance for seed, early stage, or growth stage for a broad range of businesses.

The Investment Fund was a key recommendation following an Investors Roundtable co-hosted by the BFC and Sian Westerman, Non-Executive Director, in 2019, which concluded that multiple funding models exist for different types of businesses and that there are many opportunities to develop businesses who are at the intersection of creativity, innovation and commerce. Highly creative businesses should not necessarily be pushed to high growth but can benefit from talent identification schemes and programmes.

The Fund marries the BFC’s network, unique convening power and ability to engage with leading creative talent with Venrex’s long-standing track record in identifying winning businesses. From a BFC perspective, this partnership serves to diversify its revenue streams. The BFC will receive fees and a portion of the carry, which as a not-for-profit it will use to reinvest in fashion education and talent programmes.

Businesses within the BFC ecosystem beyond the BFC Network will be able to apply for investment by the Venrex BFC Fashion I.

Mark Esiri commented: “We are thrilled to be working with the BFC on this initiative to partner with what we hope can be some of the UK’s highest growth fashion-related businesses.  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.”

Stephanie Phair, BFC Chair, said: “As the BFC 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.”

So far, Venrex BFC Fashion I has invested in three companies: Intimately, Vollebak and Digital Village. Intimately is an adaptive intimates brand for disabled women. Intimately has redesigned bras, underwear, and sleepwear with the newest fastening technology to make sure disabled women can easily get dressed. The brand doesn’t sacrifice fashion for function, believing everyone deserves to feel confident in stylish intimates designed for them.

Vollebak is building the future of clothing, using science and technology to tackle the most important challenges of our time – from climate change and sustainability, to space travel and disease resistance. Already 2x winners of TIME Best Inventions, their clothing includes Solar Charged Jackets that store and re-emit sunlight, t-shirts that turn into worm food, hoodies designed to outlive the owner, and the first gear for Mars.  

The Digital Village MMO Metaverse (DV) is redefining the construct of society and how we interact with the internet as a community. The DV aims to redefine how our time online echoes back into our physical lifestyles and adapt it to the ethical mindset of the connectivity between humans and technology. The purpose of The DV is to become a welcoming ecosystem that allows everyone to create in Web3 and integrate their digital assets and lifestyles seamlessly and ethically into the Metaverse. This comprehensive and diverse ecosystem will enable members to showcase, wear, use, and exchange their digital assets with their communities.

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