MILAN — The San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 Global — which is focused on fast-growing technology companies and features in its portfolio a range of key digital players, such as Canva and The RealReal — is among the investors that are accelerating the business of sustainable fashion start-up Renoon.
Established in 2020 by an Italian team who met in Amsterdam and that includes Iris Skrami, Nicolò Tresoldi, Gabriele Trapani and Piero Puttini, Renoon is a search platform for sustainable fashion. Renoon, which is supported by consulting firm Brand Partners Group as part of B Heroes’ B Wonder — Women move forward initiative aimed at boosting female entrepreneurship, collects products and brands that meet a series of eco-friendly standards. No shopping transaction is finalized on the platform, in fact after selecting a product, shoppers are redirected to the wholesalers.
Renoon has just closed a $1 million round of investment. Along with 500 Global, which invested $150,000, other investors included a former Gucci chief innovation officer and a former managing director at Spotify.
“Renoon was born out of a personal need of mine,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Skrami, who previously worked at large corporations, including Nike and PVH, where she focused on implementing technologies to raise sustainability standards. “Two years ago, I was looking for a sustainable black dress online and it took me two months to find one. I realized there was a gap in the online market for a tool facilitating the search of eco-conscious fashion and I started working on the project with my three partners, who were living in my building.”
Thanks to incubation by Startupbootcamp, Renoon launched its first platform with 20 partners a year ago, including e-tailer LuisaViaRoma. Currently, Renoon works with more than 100 brands and retailers, including Stella McCartney, Vestiaire Collective, Net-a-porter’s sustainable section, as well as Ayesha Barenblat’s Remake, a platform committed to building a conscious consumer movement.
According to Skrami, Renoon monthly processes more than 1 million products and only 1 percent get the green light to be featured on the platform. Currently, the platform attracts 2,500 returning visitors, but that is expected to grow to 60,000 by the end of next year.
“The goal of Renoon is to connect the values of consumers looking for sustainable products with concrete actions,” Skrami explained. “I think ours is a great tool for brands, too, because it pushes them to evaluate their efforts and raise the bar.”
Skrami highlighted that the platform is mainly appreciated by “pragmatic women,” aged between 25 and 35, who “are trying to concretely change their behaviors when it comes to consumption.”
The digital entrepreneur said Renoon is mainly focused on further developing its app, where users have access to a range of tools, including the chance to create their own wardrobe and wish lists based on their preferred brands.
While a lot of emerging sustainable brands are increasing their visibility on the international market, Skrami said major labels doing eco-friendly products are still the most appealing for consumers. This also explains the success of secondhand platforms, where people have access to big brands at more accessible prices.
“However, I think there are a lot opportunities for brands since there are gaps in the sustainable offering,” she added. “For example, in the footwear industry, there is a plethora of eco-conscious sneakers, but there is a lack of sustainable formal styles.”
At the same time, Skrami highlighted that consumers are currently not only focused on looking for products crafted from eco-friendly materials, but they are also very attentive to the ethical labor issue.