The company after going through a phase of testing the waters earlier this year to see who might be interested in investing — so far 4,000 interested investors — today moves on to the reservations step of the process in which people will indicate how much money they want to invest, provide bank information and set up a profile.
“It’s kind of exciting and terrifying at the same time,” said Mark Lynn, DSTLD cofounder and co-chief executive officer. “We’re the first fashion company to ever do a Reg A+ so it’s been a bit of a process because the structure around the mechanism of what we’re doing has been evolving since we started in on it, but the response has been really terrific.”
The funding vehicle, which has also been called a mini-initial public offering, is part of Title IV in the JOBS Act and lets customers or anyone else in the broader public invest in a company, allowing smaller businesses to bypass the more traditional route of seeking funding from venture capital and private equity firms and raise as much as $50 million under the law.
DSTLD — pronounced distilled — views the raise as a branding exercise in some ways, getting those who already understand and love the brand to back the company as opposed to trying to sell their business strategy to more traditional investors who may not necessarily understand their business model.
“This is a new way into the public markets for a lot of smaller fashion brands,” Lynn said. “There’s new markets developing specifically for these types of Reg A+ companies so you’re going to see this whole ecosystem evolve, but it ultimately makes sense for companies with brands that have a very kind of visceral, engaged customer base. If it’s just some finance app or software platform, this is not going to really revolutionize that type of industry, but in areas like fashion and entertainment where the end consumer is the ultimate decider but the banks and financial institutions can be somewhat more skeptical because they don’t understand the creative element, I think this is a way to bypass the banks and VCs looking for…Facebook-style returns.”
The process is also fitting for a brand that’s being built around the idea of democratizing luxury denim and the other categories, such as outerwear and accessories, it has expanded by selling direct via its online store to keep prices low.
“It’s just the democratization of that whole process for us and it just aligns with our core beliefs of distilling the process, making the process more transparent [and] making people more engaged,” he said.
DSTLD’s capping its raise through Reg A+ to $6 million, which would value the company at $22 million, according to Lynn.