In less than a day after launching its crowdfunding campaign, fashion brand BEEN London reached its investment target of 175,000 pounds. The London-based startup, now 58% overfunded at a valuation of 2.5 million pounds, reflects the growing interest in sustainable fashion among both investors and consumers.
“Business analysts call sustainable fashion the fastest growing segment of the entire industry,” says Genia Mineeva, a former BBC journalist who founded the company less than two years ago. “Internet searches for sustainable fashion have been going up by 66% every year.”
After researching the enormous waste streams created by the leather industry, Mineeva started BEEN London to prevent high-quality materials from ending up in landfill. Her 2018 Kickstarter campaign, featuring a handbag made from waste materials, was fully funded in just over a day. Within months, the company was profitable – currently valued at around 3 million euros, it is ready to continue growing.
BEEN London uses discarded leather to manufacture high-quality accessories, including handbags, laptop cases and cardholders. Leather waste trimmings are pulverized and pressed onto fabric using high pressure water in a chemical-free process which recycles 95% of the water used. The company’s products are all manufactured in London, and orders are fulfilled by a social business which trains people with learning disabilities.
“We’re disrupting the entire industry by aligning what we make with our customers values,” says Mineeva. “Instead of creating waste, we’re diverting it from landfill.” BEEN London is now inviting impact investors to take a stake in the company’s mission.
The campaign will fund the scaling of the company’s manufacturing and team, enhance marketing efforts, and drive the creation of new products.
Through blockchain technology, BEEN London makes its supply chain transparent to its customers, and anyone else who wishes to take a look in the process. To this end, the company collaborates with A Transparent Company, a collective of sustainable fashion experts whose aim is to “accelerate positive impact in the fashion industry.”
“We know that real, sizable impact is only possible at scale, so our plan is to keep our prices as close to mainstream as possible, while working to the highest sustainability standards,” Mineeva states.
Constantly innovating, the startup launched a line of vegan accessories made from pineapple leaves, and announced it is researching ways to create potato peel-based eyewear and stationery products from recycled coffee cups. A future step is to launch a varied B2B offering, possibly including hotel towels made from recycled textile.
At the time of writing, the author held a stake in one of the companies mentioned in this article. At Global Garland, we aim to provide objective reporting. This disclosure is provided because we value transparency.