At a time when the menswear market is thriving Thread.com, a free online personal styling service for men, has announced the completion of a significant round of ‘Series A’ funding, worth $8m, backed by heavyweight investors spanning the fashion and tech industries.
Thread’s portfolio of investors include Andrew Jennings, former President of Saks Fifth Avenue, Sebastian Picardo, Chief Retail Officer at Lane Crawford, and Maurice Helfgott, former Board Director at M&S.
The funds will be used to grow Thread’s fast-expanding customer base, which now stands at over 200,000 men in the UK. Balderton Capital, investors in such companies as YOOX, the fashion e-commerce company that recently merged with Net-a-Porter, is one of a few eading the latest round of funding.
As part of this news, Terry Betts will join Thread as Head of Business Development. Betts was part of the founding team at Mr. Porter, and most recently Buying Director at Selfridges where he oversaw the retailer’s menswear division. Betts will be expanding Thread’s industry partnerships, which already include leading fashion retailers such as Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Urban Outfitters, and brands such as Sunspel, Hardy Amies, Richard James, YMC, Folk, Oliver Spencer and Jigsaw.
Thread’s service appeals to the male consumer who needs help finding clothes, using a combination of human stylists and algorithms. Every user who joins takes a style questionnaire and uploads photos of himself which a stylist then reviews and, aided by powerful, proprietary algorithms, generates personalised style recommendations. This technology takes into account over 50 elements of style from eye colour and body shape to brand, fit, and fabric. Users can then rate items, providing feedback as specific as "I don't like the button-down collar" or "I don't like the textured fabric". The algorithm learns using this data and continually improves the more it is used.
Using this system Thread is able to analyse millions of options from thousands of high-street and designer brands.
Thread.com Co-Founder and CEO, Kieran O’Neill said: “Thread was born from a desire to make it easier for men to feel confident about the way they dress, without investing loads of personal time shopping or learning about clothes. It is a philosophy that has struck a chord with the modern man and has seen us take the business from concept to over 200,000 users across the UK over the last few years. This investment round, featuring some of the most influential players in technology and fashion, will be crucial in helping us to develop the experience further and deliver it to more men across the UK and the world.”
Commenting on the funding, Daniel Waterhouse, partner at Balderton Capital, added:
“The enormous success of online fashion retail sites such as ASOS highlight the retail world’s steady shift from bricks and mortar to online and demonstrates that consumer appetite for this kind of shopping model is alive and well. Thread’s commitment to innovating the digital user experience is exactly why we at Balderton chose to back them.”