Lord Mayor of Belfast Kate Nicholl with RESPONSIBLE founder Mark Dowds (centre) and garment technician Marianne Connolly
Belfast-based RESPONSIBLE raises $6.6M Seed Round led by Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, including Techstart Ventures, Rafa Brzoska, and Next Door’s Sarah Friar to power a circular future for fashion.
RESPONSIBLE, creators of the world’s first embedded finance platform in fashion, today announced it has raised a $6.6 million Seed Round of investment capital. Led by Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and Techstart Ventures, participants include InPost founder Rafa Brzoska and Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar.
This round of funding will be used to expand RESPONSIBLE’s reach throughout Europe and extend its network of brand partnerships. This marks the largest seed round of capital to be secured to date within the reCommerce sector, giving RESPONSIBLE the opportunity to make a meaningful change in the industry.
Andy Challis, co-Head of Principal Investments, Barclays, said: “Innovation in the fashion industry is critical in reducing global carbon emissions, and Barclays is delighted to support RESPONSIBLE as it continues to scale and address this issue. RESPONSIBLE.US has developed an innovative model which enables circularity in the fashion industry, partnering directly with brands to extend the life of garments and impact sector-wide change”
InPost was founded with a mission to make modern logistics convenient, cheaper and more environmentally friendly”, said Rafa Brzoska. “I am excited to be investing in the future of RESPONSIBLE and to potentially open new frontiers by leveraging the InPost technology, infrastructure and network of partnerships across the UK and Europe, building competitive advantages for fashion retailers.”
“Investing in community means thinking holistically about how our actions impact the community around us. For example, most of us know that it is better to buy previously worn clothes instead of new,” said Sarah Friar, founder of NextDoor. “RESPONSIBLE is now making this more convenient and easier. I am excited to see another company from Northern Ireland step up with a global solution to help our planet.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “I’m delighted that the Responsible team chose to locate their innovative, sustainable business in Belfast – and retain this significant investment in our city, helping to further build upon Belfast’s competitive advantage. “Our energetic and ambitious city is full of talent and creativity, and coupled with our rich textiles heritage, it’s wonderful to learn of new and future employment opportunities within this industry.”
RESPONSIBLE have developed a technology solution called Buy Back that can be easily integrated into a brand’s eCommerce and physical stores. The technology is integrated at the point of purchase to inform shoppers of the residual value of the item they are about to buy. The shopper is free to wear the garment and return the product at any point in the future in exchange for credit at the Buy Back price stated at purchase.
The Buy Back plugin is immediately available within the the Shopify eco-system and will soon support other eCommerce Platforms. Not only does RESPONSIBLE provide their technology to fashion brands to keep products in circulation, but they also provide the infrastructure and operational capability to ensure this remains a seamless and low-touch way for brands to embrace a circular future.
“The fashion industry manufactures billions of items every year and only 5-7% of these clothes are sold for a second time,” said Mark Dowds, Founder and CEO, RESPONSIBLE. “We are enabling brands to not only become accountable for everything they produce, but also to financially benefit from a more circular and sustainable business model. Data sources like Black Book and Glass’s Guide transformed the automotive industry, we plan to do the same in fashion.”
RESPONSIBLE have launched with several partners including design-led brands RÆBURN and Côte et Ciel, alongside pioneering denim brands, Kuyichi, and Kings of Indigo with more to be announced over the coming months. Many of these brand products are now available on RESPONSIBLE’s resale platform, www.responsible.us
“RÆBURN is dedicated to changing the world through responsible design; a mission we’ve been committed to since 2009. We strive to realise compelling, enduring design solutions and build meaningful relationships with those who share our passion for positive change” said Christopher Raeburn, Creative Director, RÆBURN.
With this in mind, we are delighted to have established a partnership with RESPONSIBLE who have the potential to be a superb catalyst for change, and whose solution we’re confident will significantly increase the lifespan of RÆBURN garments. As a design brand dedicated to crafting pieces that are meant to last a lifetime, côte and ciel is excited to work with RESPONSIBLE in giving our pre-loved items a platform to stay in circulation long after their first initial sale”, said Jacqueline Helen Schmid, Head of Marketing. “The emphasis and expertise of RESPONSIBLE when it comes to ensuring all pieces are treated and refurbished to the highest quality standards closely aligns with our commitment to never compromising longevity or design.”
“So many clothes are already being made, so let’s make sure that what’s already there is repaired and recycled into beautiful new products” said Peter Schuitema, Owner Kuyichi. “Recycling is not the next step, it is the most important step we all need to take now. Clothing should not be a throwaway product, which one of the reasons we have partnered with RESPONSIBLE.”
“Kings Of Indigo has been leading the industry towards change for a decade. With this collaboration with RESPONSIBLE, we are taking a next step in creating a circular business model” said Tony Tonnaer, Founder. Together, we’re part of a revolution”.
At RESPONSIBLE HQ, we keep everything in rotation ?
If your garment has a RESPONSIBLE tag, you know it's been through our authentication, refurb, clean and steam process.
RESPONSIBLE Renewed – better for you and the planet ? pic.twitter.com/S7EU2FyusT
— RESPONSIBLE (@WearResponsible) January 11, 2022
RESPONSIBLE is a technology company that exists to fight for a circular future. Founded in 2021 by Irish entrepreneur, Mark Dowds and Australian, Mitch Doust, the company is on a mission to help solve fashion’s sustainability problem with a new premium take on reCommerce that will open the category to end-customers and brands alike.
Key to this is partnering with some of the world’s leading brands through the Buy Back loyalty program to make resell work for brands and ensure the public get high-quality verified product.
RESPONSIBLE operates in the UK from its Belfast and London offices with plans to establish an EU presence early in 2022.
About Barclays Sustainable Investment Fund:
As part of the firm’s broader commitments, Barclays will invest £175m of its own capital, led by the Principal Investments team, in fast-growing, innovative, environmentally-focused companies whose values are aligned with those of Barclays and which target the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.
Investments will be strategic to Barclays, its clients and the communities it serves, with clear scalable propositions that deliver both environmental benefits and economic returns. About Techstart Ventures: Techstart Ventures is a leading investor of seed capital across Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are a trusted partner to ambitious founders on their journey to success.
About Rafa Brzoska:
Entrepreneur Rafa Brzoska is the founder and CEO of Integer.pl, owner of the InPost logistics company, one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing logistics companies with automated parcel lockers across the continent.
About Sarah Friar:
Sarah Friar is chief executive officer of Nextdoor, where you plug into the neighborhoods that matter to you. Prior to Nextdoor, Sarah served as chief financial officer at Square. Under Sarah’s leadership, the company launched its initial public offering in 2015 and added $30 billion in market capitalisation. Sarah
also serves on the board of Slack and Walmart Inc.
See more sustainability stories here.
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