San Francisco crowdfunded and crowdsourced apparel company Betabrand, known for tongue-in-cheek designs like Gay Jeans and does-it-all workhorses like the Dress Pant Yoga Pant, just got a major does of confidence in the form of $15 million in funding.
The round was led by Morgan Stanley and Foundry Group, and makes the total raised by the five-year-old company $29 million. Betabrand has 65 employees, and uses a proprietary crowdsourcing platform.
According to chief executive officer Chris Lindland, Betabrand puts out new product every day. Each potential sample on the site is voted on by customers, then prototyped and crowdfunded before going into production. Lindland boasts a fast turnaround time, and said going forward, he hopes to make items available for purchase within 30 days of being introduced on the site.
The company has about 300 “crowd-created” products on its site, but plans to increase that with investment in prototyping and collaborations with designers from around the world. This season, for example, Betabrand worked with “Project Runway’s” Melissa Fleis on a coat, which has become the most popular item this fall, and it also expanded a travel collection for men and women that is set to make $1.5 million in sales.
Betabrand also recently began working with Valve Corp. to develop clothing for gamers and 3M to create reflective women’s clothing.
Recently, Betabrand was in the news for hosting the three-day “Silicon Valley Fashion Week?” The event displayed highlights from Betabrand’s offerings in addition to forward-looking items like LED-imbedded clothing and drones on the runway.
Lindland said the process of voting and funding allows Betabrand to garner valuable insight with minimal initial investment.
“The word is out that this is unbelievable market research,” he said of the process. “It really impacts inventory decisions and the rationale behind why people make clothing in the first place. Traditional merchandising decisions are uninformed compared to what we do.”