Growth Accelerator 2023-28: Strategies and Choices

March 25, 2023 at Istanbul (internal, 2 days)

Fashion used to be all about style, typically driven by luxury brands and premium designers. Fashion was a statement about who we are, or want to be. It was aspirational, desirable and largely superficial.

Today, its about much more. Products (and services) that can improve our lives.

Take Veja shoes for example, the fashion-essential white sneakers, made with sustainable Amazonian rubber, constructed in Brazil, by a French company. It’s good for the world, and it makes a statement about what we believe in ourselves.

Many brands still stand out for beautiful products, but also with an inspiring, innovative story too. Often, it is retail brands rather than product brands who can tell this story best, and also have more scope to innovate.

Consider Farfetch, founded in 2007 by the Portuguese entrepreneur Jose Neves, the luxury marketplace that partners with small boutiques around the world, poured its profits into sustainability initiatives, including acquiring the resale technology company Luxclusif to power its own secondhand business, Second Life, and launching an in-house eco-friendly label, There Was One, (created by Italy’s New Guards Group, exclusively for Farfetch) which creates durable basics.

Here are some of the most interesting reports:

Sustainable and desirable

The average shopper now buys 60% more clothes than they did 50 years ago. And wears only 30% of of them, typically 5-6 times before disposal. The fashion industry has been a major contributor to climate change and biodiversity loss—which means the industry’s sustainability efforts are critical to our planet’s health. The fashion industry produces almost 20% of the world’s wastewater and is responsible for 2-8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.

On, the Swiss sportswear business, born in Switzerland seven years ago, has become the fastest growing global running brand. Ithas launched a 100% recyclable, bio-based performance running shoe.  Some claimed it was impossible. But we chose to Dream On. The Cloudneo is now available via subscription to our Cyclon™ circularity program. Run. Recycle. Repeat.


Designer Tracy Reese took the radical step of moving her HQ from New York to Detroit as part of her mission to transform the city into a hub of ethical fashion manufacturing. Johannesburg-based designer Thebe Magugu used his collections to narrate stories about politics and history; for his 2021 collection, he interviewed South African women who worked as spies during apartheid, creating outfits that spoke to issues of gender and colonialism.

Some brands focused on creatively responding to consumers’ unmet needs. Myya, for instance, created a luxurious lingerie shopping experience for breast cancer patients, who historically have been forced to buy prosthetics and specialized bras at medical supply stores. Figs designed tasteful and comfortable scrubs for medical professionals, cultivating a loyal following of 1.7 million customers who appreciate the care that has gone into these outfits.

Denim brand Good American recognized that women’s bodies fluctuate in size 31 times over the course of their lives, forcing them to buy new clothes. The brand launched its Always Fits jeans and swimwear collections, which are designed to span four sizes, ensuring they look flattering even as customers’ bodies change.

Shoe brand Hoka developed by two former Salomon executives in Annoy, Francehas paid close attention to runners’ needs, developing new foams and carbon-fibre plates that give them extra propulsion, without sacrificing comfort. While the industry sought minimalist designs, it went for a maximalist (lots of cushioning!) approach.

Direct and realtime

Lets talk about Shein. Forget fast fashion, this is realtime. In fact most items are not even made when ordered, but then made and shipped within 24 hours, direct to your door. The $100 billion Chinese brand produces ultra-cheap clothes at ultra-fast speed, creating an ultra-big hype on social media. The Haul. TikTok on steroids. There’s waste, and human rights, and more. But there also some insights to learn from – AI predictive, on demand, social influence.

Gymshark is now 10 years old, but Ben Francis’ business continues to thrive, built on an online platform selling direct to consumers, fuelled by social media, and is now extending into physical stores. In 2020, the company was valued at over £1 billion.

Virtual and metaverse

While Zuckerberg’s Meta vision resulted in a 70% fall in his company’s share price, the web3-enabled world is taking shape with brands like Ledger and The Dematerialised. Nike acquired RTFKT to merge physical and virtual worlds. The latest evolution of the Nike Adapt platform features auto-lacing, haptic feedback, enhanced lighting, gesture control, walk detection, wireless charging, NFC link, App connectivity, AI/ML algo, and Move to Earn.

Dress X became the world’s largest digital fashion store targeting Gen Z awho seek digital, sustainable, and affordable fashion – even if it’s virtual. The company was named one of the finalists of LVMH Innovation Award 2022 in the category 3D/Virtual Product Experience & Metaverse.


Retailers as brands

Farfetch stocks goods from various boutiques big and small in over 50 different countries. It is stepping out with its very own in-house fashion brand. Dubbed ‘ There Was One ‘ the line takes inspiration from elevated classics and includes tailored blazers, soft slip dresses, denim jackets, and zippered leggings, and draws from the platform’s data-driven insights on what customers are actively searching for on Farfetch.


Brands beyond products

Brands are becoming increasingly independent of products, and more about consumers and communities. Take gaming brands for example. They define a lifestyle, culture, value set. Take 100 Thieves. The gaming brand collaborates with Gucci – including a limited-edition backpack from the Gucci Off The Grid collection—made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials— in a new shade of bright red featuring a distinctive circular patch with the 100 Thieves logo.

Brands with stories

ISKO, a brand of Turkey’s Sanko Group, is the world’s largest producer of denim fabric, with 250 million meters of fabric a year. It says it “creates the soul of jeans, the essence of the most popular fashion style that has become universal.” It is a great example of building an ingredient brand, in a way that the premium ingredient enhances the core brand. Read more.

Outerknown seeks to make clothing differently. Created by world champion surfer Kelly Slater in 2015, with the goal of creating high-quality, sustainable fashion that would stand up to any conditions—including those you’ll find in the water. The brand’s clothing is made using eco-conscious materials like organic cotton and hemp fibres, as well as recycled polyester derived from recycled plastic bottles.  Their jeans are made at the world’s cleanest denim facility, using less water, fewer chemicals, and organic cotton. They guarantee S.E.A. JEANS for life. Now your most comfortable jeans are also your most sustainable.

Cool and conscious

18 years ago, VEJA‘s founders decided to travel to the Amazon rainforest and meet the producers of wild rubber in person, the same rubber we use in every one of our VEJA soles.​ ​ Those producers protect the forest and live in harmony with it. This rubber, extracted from forest trees, is a completely ecological raw material.​ Last year, a team of VEJA members traveled to the Amazon rainforest to discover the Chico Mendes reserve.​ One of the many reserves that VEJA works to keep the Amazon rainforest alive.​ These families of rubber producers we work with are paid 4 times more than the market price.​

Vestiaire Collective is banning fast fashion from being bought, sold or listed on the platform. “We say no to a system that supports overconsumption, poor quality and over production. Its mission is to drive change from within the fashion industry. We aim, over the next 3 years, to become a fast fashion-free platform that celebrates quality, craftsmanship and sustainability.”

Fabrics and production

Swiss innovator HeiQ creates some of the most high performance textile technologies in the market today. Founded in 2005 as a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Two examples: HeiQ Smart Temp provides textiles with the ability to dynamically respond to body heat, keeping you cool and dry when you are hot, and retaining body heat when you get chilly. This keeps you comfortable at all times. HeiQ Clean Tech makes processing of textiles more ecological, improves productivity and efficiency of textile manufacturing, and helps to significantly lower CO2 emission. In many cases by more than 30%. HeiQ AeoniQ makes yarn from cellulosic raw materials in a process that captures five tons of carbon for each ton of yarn. It operates a pilot plant with a capacity of 100 tons per year and plans a giga-factory for 2025

Swedish company Renewcell recently opened the world’s first commercial-scale textile recycling plant, turning old clothes that would have gone to landfill into a new sustainable material called circulose. The factory process, which also saves some 90 billion liters of fresh water a year, is based on a raft of custom-made ABB technologies.

MAS is one of the world’s leading textile creators and manufacturers, promoting unconventional idea-generation to inspire the world’s fashion and retail brands. Innovation and sustainability are key. MAS is globally recognised as a pioneer of women’s empowerment in the global apparel industry through the award winning programme – Women Go Beyond, improving and sustaining employee livelihoods, nurturing communities, whilst working aggressively to identify and minimise the environmental impact of our operations and products. MAS owns the world’s first purpose built eco-manufacturing plant – Thurulie. Their lean driven, empowered and people-centric culture facilitates innovation throughout the value chain. The strategic investment portfolio of businesses includes raw materials, brands and private industrial parks, with an active presence across Asia, Middle East, North America and Africa.

NEFFA a Dutch textiles business founded by Aniela Hoitink, its focused on developing mushroom-based mycelium, and using 3D printing to create customised products using body scans to create the perfect fit. The result is a seamless, customised, sustainable product. Operationally she is supported by German shoe machinery company Desma.

Infinited Fiber is a Finnish biotech with the technology to turn old clothes into new, super versatile, high-quality textile fibres that look and feel like cotton –  regenerating cotton into Infinna (TM).  “It’s like some kind of magical Willy Wonka machine. Throw in your old clothes, or used cardboard boxes, and they magically become my new T-shirt or jeans” 

Vegea was founded in 2016 in Milan, Italy, creating an alternative to leather .For every 2 bottles of wine produced there is a bottle of waste. Vegea takes the waste from winemaking, and turns the dried grape marc into an eco-composite alternative to leather … now used in Bentley interiors and Gucci shoes