As if more evidence is needed to support fashion’s fixation on artificial intelligence, London-based fashion brand Urbanic announced the close of an eye-popping $150 million series C on Wednesday.
The round was backed by Mirabaud Lifestyle Impact and Innovation Fund in Switzerland, New York-based public-private hybrid investment firm D1 Capital Partners, JAM Fund and other global investors and European luxury fashion families. Previous backers include Nexus Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.
According to the company, the influx of cash will go toward its mission to transform the fashion industry with its own proprietary AI and socially responsible approach.
“We launched Urbanic in 2019 with the simple idea that clothing does not need to be expensive to be differentiated, stylish and socially responsible,” said James Wellwood, Urbanic’s founding partner, in a prepared statement. The funding will accelerate Urbanic’s ability to bring forth new designs and clothing, he added, while leveraging “groundbreaking technology and partnerships with manufacturers and suppliers who comply with the highest standard of international working conditions that protect our people and our planet.”
The jewels in Urbanic’s tech crown are its AI and machine learning-based models, which operate in concert with its proprietary large language models. These tools can “systematically generate fashion designs, AIGC-based creatives and content, and improve overall supply chain efficiency to the next level for the fashion industry,” the announcement read, referring to AI-generated content.
Logically, such efficiencies would matter to any apparel brand’s sense of environmental responsibility, as designs reflecting actual demand naturally leads to reductions in waste. For Urbanic, the approach lines up with other efforts, including an Urbanic Oasis initiative in collaboration with the NGO Florestas Inteligentes to plant 1 million trees in Latin America, which expects to expand to more developing countries over the next five years. The company, which is also exploring the use of biodegradable and recycled packaging materials to reduce plastic waste, aims to achieve plastic neutrality.
Undoubtedly, some green cred also resonates with the Gen Z crowd, which is a key demographic for fashion. With its series C, Urbanic set its sights on an important destination, namely the sweet spot where buzzworthy AI tech and cause-based values overlap. Beyond environmental responsibility, the brand also works on the social activism side, with efforts to boost education for underprivileged youths through collaborations with EarthAngels Welfare Foundation and Pequeños Hermanos Mexico.