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From virtual clothing to metaverse fashion, here are 8 startups getting tech-fueled makeover in 2022

fashion tech startups

Web 3.0 is the third version of the internet that has given people more control over their data. This version is being built on blockchain technology. The main objective of web 3.0 is to emulate human interactions and generate digital, “real” life-like experiences. Among the sectors that Web 3.0 has catered, the fashion industry has gained immense popularity.

Of late, the fashion industry is adapting to new technologies and reshaping itself to make it be relevant for the current era. As a common scenario, we have seen fashion designers such as Denni Francisco brands use web 3.0 to display fashion digitally.

Furthermore, it is not surprising to see big brands using web 3.0 to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their luxury clothing products. It is quite common to see NFTs for apparel including hoodies, and caps among others. The other common thing shift in the fashion industry towards accepting payments in the form of cryptocurrencies.

Spurring this trend further, the pandemic has resulted in a surge in shared virtual environments called metaverse. Virtual clothes are increasingly attracting fashion brands besides gamers and NFT investors. Also, investments are pouring into fashion tech startups that want to make a difference and some recent companies to get funding include ME+EM, Zilingo, Rent the Runway, and The Seam.

As the fashion industry, which is estimated to be worth $3 trillion by the end of this decade, is undergoing a dramatic, tech-fueled makeover, here we have listed some of the innovative startups that are working with web 3.0, cryptocurrency and metaverse.

Space Runners
Image credits: Space Runners

Space Runners (US)

Founder/s: Deniz Özgür, Won Soh
Founded year: 2021
Total funding: $10M

Female-led Space Runners is the first metaverse fashion brand, which focuses on cross-chain/interoperable fashion items that can be plugged into any web3.0 metaverse and games. Space Runners launches open-sourced fashion items as NFTs with artists and brands, which can be plugged into metaverses and games.

Earlier this month, metaverse fashion brand Space Runners raised $10 million in an investment round led by Polychain and Pantera Capital alongside Accel, Jump Crypto and Core Ventures. The company aims to position itself as the largest supplier of fashion products working with both games and metaverse initiatives.

Image credits: Avataar

Avataar (India)

Founder/s: Gaurav Baid, Mayank Tiwari, Prashanth Aluru, Sravanth Aluru
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $52M

Bengaluru, India-based Avataar shapes consumers’ online buying/browsing behaviour by creating immersive, interactive shopping experiences and reimagines the visual discovery journey. The company uses the first-of-its-kind XR+AR technology platform with deep learning AI-driven approach. In partnership with Facebook and Google among others, Avataar delivers 3D and XR+AR first experiences across all consumer touchpoints.

In January this year, the AI and computer vision startup Avataar nabbed $45 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Tiger Global and existing investor Sequoia Capital India participated in it.

Futures Factory
Image credits: Futures Factory

Futures Factory (France)

Founder/s: Nicolas Romero, Alexandre Frih,
Founded year: 2021
Total funding: $2.5M

Futures Factory, a French marketplace for selling sneakers merges both the physical and digital worlds through Augmented Reality (AR) and NFTs. The startup will offer a new demand-driven distribution model for footwear brands, allowing them to sell virtual sneakers via NFTs to finance the production of physical ones. Users will be able to use these virtual-only sneakers within popular video games, and display on their feet using AR.

The startup has secured raised a $2.5m seed round led by Seedcamp and Stride. Further participation comes from the co-founders of Voodoo, Kima Ventures, RTP Global, along with technology, crypto, and fashion angel investors. It was announced that the company intends to use the funds to build its product.

Retraced 1
Image credits: Retraced Co-founder/LinkedIn

Retraced (Germany)

Founder/s: Lukas Pünder, Peter Merkert, Philipp Mayer
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $1.1M

The German startup Retraced uses blockchain technology to enable fashion companies connect their entire supplier network and collect relevant data. It uses for companies innovative tool to check and optimise their supply chains, and how customer behaviour influences the environment and the lives of those involved in a particular product.

Last year, the blockchain startup picked up €1 million from European VC Samaipata alongside a slew of other investors. The funds will be used to expand the range of functions of the cloud-based solutions and to advance the further expansion of the company when the industry is gearing up towards sustainability, transparency and impact management.

Psychic VR Lab
Image credits: Psychic VR Lab

Psychic VR Lab (Japan)

Founder/s: Masahiro Yamaguchi
Founded year: 2007
Total funding: NA

Psychic VR Lab, which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan is a startup, which handles fashion VR and MR shopping service STYLY, an innovative solution to virtual reality development and distribution. The startup embarked on creating a simple to use VR development tool for fashion designers to express their unique style.

Since its release, STYLY has attracted global attention from artists and creators, award shows, governments, and news outlets. Back in February 2021, Psychic VR Lab received $8.5 million in funding from DG Daiwa Ventures, DG Ventures, DK Gate, and KDDI Open Innovation Fund.

Image credits: Auroboros

Auroboros (UK)

Founder/s: Alissa Aulbekova, Paula Sello
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: NA

Touted to be the first metaverse native luxury fashion tech startup, London-based Auroboros is at the forefront of digital and tech innovations within the fashion industry. It brings luxury and fashion to the metaverse. The company merges science and technology with physical couture, as well as digital-only ready-to-wear.

Image credits: DressX

DressX (US)

Founder/s: Daria Shapovalova, Natalia Modenova
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $2M

Headquartered in Los Angeles, DressX is claimed to be the largest digital fashion store that carries 3D clothing collections from most well-known contemporary brands born in the physical world and in the digital space. To get a picture in a digital dress, users have to upload a good-quality light photo with no harsh shadows and wait for a day or two.

In 2021, the virtual clothing startup founded by Ukrainan women entrepreneurs raised $2 million in seed funding led by The Artemis Fund and Alpha Edison alongside Unlock Venture Partners, One Way Ventures, TLF Ventures, Startup Mavericks, and Signal Peak Ventures.

Image credits: Digitalax founder/LinkedIn

Digitalax (US)

Founder/s: Emma-Jane MacKinnon-Lee
Founded year: 2020
Total funding: NA

Another US fashion tech startup Digitalax is dedicated at building the web3 fashion economy for the open metaverse. The company offers a digital-only fashion auction exchange platform and an open-source digital fashion toolkit. Also, the company is developing a decentralised protocol for unlocked interoperable economies involving fashion, gaming, modding, NFTs, DeFi, and DAOs.

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