We may only be midway through 2019, but it has already minted several new unicorns in the fashion world.
The billion-dollar-plus valuations have also legitimized several new-school approaches to retail, most notably resale and influencer marketing. With the ascent of StockX, the secondhand sneaker market is also looking as hot as ever, even as experts have warned that the bubble might be due to burst. (Matt Powell, senior sports industry analyst at The NPD Group, told FN in February that the demand seemed to be slowing down: “I think the meteoric growth in resale has slowed, which is why companies are looking to sell now.”) Buzzy direct-to-consumer startups are also still investment targets, though no footwear brand has hit the 10-figure milestone since Allbirds in October 2018.
Here’s a look at four companies now valued at more than $1 billion — and how they did it:
The marketplace that bills itself as “the stock market of things” secured another $110 million in financing in late June, vaulting it into the unicorn club after just four years in business. It was the latest sign that the resale world has officially moved into the mainstream. The others? Competitor Goat Group — which last year merged with retail pioneer Flight Club — landed a $100 million investment from Foot Locker in February valuing it at more than $550 million, while Stadium Goods was acquired by Farfetch for $250 million last December. StockX also sells streetwear, handbags and watches, and logs public records of each transaction so buyers and sellers can see how an item has performed over time. According to the investment bank Cowen, the sneaker resale market in North America is expected to balloon from $2 billion today to $6 billion by 2025.
Luxury consignment destination The RealReal soared ahead of expectations with its New York Stock Exchange debut last month, raising $300 million in its initial public offering and hitting a market cap of $2.39 billion. Its stock is up 32% since its debut, closing at $26.40 on Wednesday. “More niches are emerging in the resale market,” Jeff Van Sinderen, research analyst at B. Riley FBR, told FN ahead of the company’s IPO. “One could argue that the high end of resale for apparel, handbags and footwear remains in the early stages of development. . . . This IPO adds more fuel to growth of the resale market for luxury items.” Bain & Company forecasts that the secondhand luxury goods market will reach $25 billion in sales in 2018, and The RealReal is already one of its top players.
Beyond mastering Instagram with its #RevolveAroundTheWorld influencer getaways and sponsor-loaded Coachella parties, the Los Angeles-based online retailer has had a solid run on Wall Street since going public in early June. While its stock has fallen since its initial 90% spike, it’s up about 9% from its offer price and raised $212 million in its first day, reaching a market cap of $1.47 billion. The company was founded in 2003 and recorded profits of $36 million last year on revenues of $498.7 million. It has a solid stable of 21 private-label brands (a lucrative segment that many retailers have invested in recently) and targets millennial and Generation Z customers with trend-driven collections and influencer partnerships.
While not strictly a fashion brand (not yet, at least), luggage startup Away reportedly sold $150 million worth of its hard-shell suitcases and travel bags last year, and founders Jen Rubio and Steph Korey have said that they may be looking to expand into other categories. In May, the company closed a $100 million funding round led by Wellington Management Co. valuing it at $1.4 billion, which provided some capital to broaden its offerings to include other products that its fans might want for their next trip.