Responsible raises $6.6m Seed Round

Belfast-based firm, Responsible, creators of the world’s first embedded finance platform in fashion, has announced it has raised a $6.6 million Seed Round of investment capital.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 4:00 pm

Led by Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and Techstart Ventures, participants include InPost founder Rafał Brzoska and Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar.

This round of funding will be used to expand Responsible’s reach throughout Europe and extend its network of brand partnerships. This marks the largest seed round of capital to be secured to date within the reCommerce sector, giving Responsible the opportunity to make a meaningful change in the industry.

Andy Challis, co-Head of Principal Investments, Barclays, said: “Innovation in the fashion industry is critical in reducing global carbon emissions, and Barclays is delighted to support Responsible as it continues to scale and address this issue. Responsible.us has developed an innovative model which enables circularity in the fashion industry, partnering directly with brands to extend the life of garments and impact sector-wide change.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Taylor May, Fra McEldowney, Mitch Doust, Ciarán Jordan, Mark Dowds and Mark Rabo

Rafał Brzoska continued: “InPost was founded with a mission to make modern logistics convenient, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. I am excited to be investing in the future of Responsible and to potentially open new frontiers by leveraging the InPost technology, infrastructure and network of partnerships across the UK and Europe, building competitive advantages for fashion retailers.”

Sarah Friar, founder of NextDoor explained: “Investing in community means thinking holistically about how our actions impact the community around us. For example, most of us know that it is better to buy previously worn clothes instead of new. Responsible is now making this more convenient and easier. I am excited to see another company from Northern Ireland step up with a global solution to help our planet.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl, praised the company: “I’m delighted that the Responsible team chose to locate their innovative, sustainable business in Belfast – and retain this significant investment in our city, helping to further build upon Belfast’s competitive advantage.

“Our energetic and ambitious city is full of talent and creativity, and coupled with our rich textiles heritage, it’s wonderful to learn of new and future employment opportunities within this industry.”

Belfast Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl with Mark Dowds, co-founder and CEO of Responsible and Marianne Connolly, garment processor at Responsible

Responsible have developed a technology solution called Buy Back that can be easily integrated into a brand’s eCommerce and physical stores. The technology is integrated at the point of purchase to inform shoppers of the residual value of the item they are about to buy. The shopper is free to wear the garment and return the product at any point in the future in exchange for credit at the Buy Back price stated at purchase. The Buy Back plugin is immediately available within the Shopify eco-system and will soon support other eCommerce Platforms. Not only does Responsible provide their technology to fashion brands to keep products in circulation, but they also provide the infrastructure and operational capability to ensure this remains a seamless and low-touch way for brands to embrace a circular future.

Mark Dowds, founder and CEO, Responsible highlighted: “The fashion industry manufactures billions of items every year and only 5-7% of these clothes are sold for a second time. We are enabling brands to not only become accountable for everything they produce, but also to financially benefit from a more circular and sustainable business model. Data sources like Black Book and Glass’s Guide transformed the automotive industry, we plan to do the same in fashion.”

Responsible have launched with several partners including design-led brands RÆBURN and Côte et Ciel, alongside pioneering denim brands, Kuyichi, and Kings of Indigo with more to be announced over the coming months. Many of these brand products are now available on Responsible’s resale platform, www.responsible.us

Christopher Raeburn, creative director, RÆBURN, stated: “RÆBURN is dedicated to changing the world through responsible design; a mission we’ve been committed to since 2009. We strive to realise compelling, enduring design solutions and build meaningful relationships with those who share our passion for positive change. With this in mind, we are delighted to have established a partnership with Responsible who have the potential to be a superb catalyst for change, and whose solution we’re confident will significantly increase the lifespan of RÆBURN garments.”

Jacqueline Helen Schmid, head of marketing, outlined: “As a design brand dedicated to crafting pieces that are meant to last a lifetime and a bit, côte&ciel is excited to work with Responsible in giving our pre-loved items a platform to stay in circulation long after their first initial sale. The emphasis and expertise of Responsible when it comes to ensuring all pieces are treated and refurbished to the highest quality standards closely aligns with our commitment to never compromising longevity or design.”

Peter Schuitema, Owner Kuyichi, added: “So many clothes are already being made, so let’s make sure that what’s already there is repaired and recycled into beautiful new products. Recycling is not the next step, it is the most important step we all need to take now. Clothing should not be a throwaway product, which is one of the reasons we have partnered with Responsible.”

Tony Tonnaer, Founder & CEO, concluded: “Kings Of Indigo has been leading the industry towards change for a decade. With this collaboration with Responsible, we are taking a next step in creating a circular business model. Together, we’re part of a revolution.”