Luxury goods and sportswear have long been the most successful segments in the wider apparel, luxury and fashion sector. Demand for these products is high, however this appetite is a result of scarcity and inaccessibility. As a result of this demand, some premium products are released in a way that is not equitable for all.
Exclusive methods, such as in-person “drops” and in-store-only sales through personal shoppers mean that those who want to purchase the latest luxury fashion items are often left empty-handed. Releases through raffles and apps, have not solved the issues of exclusivity; the use of bots to buy up stock is rampant, with some sneaker releases seeing 97% of traffic coming from bots.
With the objective to make access to sneakers fairer, Laced, the online marketplace for authentic sneakers, has raised a €11.2 million Series A round led by London-based early-stage investment firm Talis Capital, who previously led Laced’s seed round. Other investors include H&M Group Ventures, the investment arm of H&M Group.
Laced, which to date has now raised over €15.8 million, will use the funding to further expand and develop its technology and product offering. Laced’s Series A funding comes off the back of GMV on the platform surpassing €93 million and hiring some of the most respected and talented people within the industry.
Founded in 2018 by CEO Chris Gibbons, Laced connects buyers and sellers of rare, exclusive and desirable sneakers and luxury goods, providing a secure, transparent and easy-to-use service for collectors and enthusiasts. Laced offers an industry-leading authentication of goods, same-day order processing, seven-day-a-week deliveries and same-day-as-sale payouts as standard, which is much faster than other marketplaces.
Chris Gibbons, founder and CEO of Laced, comments: “We are driven by our belief that everyone deserves access to luxury goods. Our technology and team of experts not only democratise this access, but also ensures that all products are authentic, and that each transaction is safe and secure. We have a deep relationship with Talis Capital, which is backing us again. We are delighted to welcome H&M Group Ventures on our journey as we roll out a significant product roadmap throughout the rest of the year.”
Previous participants also investing in this Series A round include BY Venture Partners and Truesight Ventures as well as a number of prominent angel investors, including Bart Swanson (current board member at Impossible Foods, and previously at Zoom) and Eric Archambeau (Co-Founder of Astanor Ventures).
The development of Laced’s technology to simplify the customer experience is spearheaded by newly appointed Chief Technical Officer Chris Conolly former Engineering Director at Gousto, and Head of Product Design Doran Black who has recently joined from Farfetch, as well as the growing data science, product and technical teams. Laced’s marketplace is anonymous, with the identities of buyers and sellers never revealed. Each transaction is handled safely and securely, differentiating Laced from other sneaker, high fashion and luxury goods retail and resale sites.
The counterfeit sneaker market was worth more than five times the value of the legitimate market in 2021, meaning the sale of fake sneakers has become a major problem on resale sites. To ensure the authenticity of every pair sold, Laced has a dedicated team of in-house authenticators that thoroughly check every pair before they are sent to the buyer. The unique authentication process was developed by Matt Miller, Laced’s Head of Authentication Operations, and one of the most respected individuals in the industry.
Kirill Tasilov, General Partner at Talis Capital, adds “At Talis, we partner with founders who are set to redefine their industries with unconventional thinking, and Laced embodies this. We saw the business’ potential from the very beginning and this funding round demonstrates our continued support in becoming the leading marketplace for sought-after sneakers and high end luxury fashion.”
Nanna Andersen, Head of New Growth & Ventures at H&M Group comments: “We are thrilled to back Chris and the dedicated team behind Laced as they embark on the next stage of their journey. In building an impressive online marketplace, they are not only providing consumers with a specially curated selection of in-demand sneakers, but also an important platform to extend the lifecycle of products. This investment is exactly the type of company and entrepreneur that we are delighted to support.”