British footwear brand Loci today announced £4 million in seed funding that will fuel the next stage of growth for the 15-month old vegan sneaker brand.
The funding round, which amounts to $4.5 million at current exchange, is led by actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Martin Ott, Adidas’ former global head of M&A and venture, and James Carnes, Adidas’ former VP of global brand strategy and sustainability, were among additional investors that participated in the round.
Loci previously raised about £1 million last year in a pre-seed round.
In a statement, DiCaprio said he was “proud” to invest in Loci, which is “dedicated to minimizing its environmental impact, and centered around creating cruelty-free, ethical footwear.”
The actor has invested in several vegan and sustainable meat companies such as Neat Burger, Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat. He is also an investor in VitroLabs Inc., a cell-cultivated leather company, and Waterplan, which works to prevent water waste and climate catastrophes.
Loci co-founders Emmanuel Eribo and Philippe Homsy launched the brand in April of 2021 with a goal to produce 100% vegan lifestyle sneakers made from recycled, renewable and biodegradable materials. The company plans to use the new funding to expand its team, bolster its supply chain network, increase marketing spend and open stores in Los Angeles.
“People have been making footwear the same way since the 1820s, the Industrial Revolution,” Eribo told FN. “The idea behind Loci was to innovate in an area where people weren’t necessarily doing things differently. For us, being sustainable and cruelty free was key.”
Loci, which manufactures and sources products in Europe, donates 10% of all online profits to wildlife conservations.
While Eribo didn’t share specific financials, he said that Loci did seven figures in sales in its first year and grew more than 500% since its inception. Loci is currently sold in 26 global markets and at retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. However, the brand’s priority is its DTC business, which accounted for about 70% of sales last year. Loci also has a strong presence in airport retail stores.
When it comes to building its own stores, Eribo said his goal is to have the experience be an immersive one.
“I think the most important thing is for people to understand the Loci universe,” he said. “And I think the best way to do that is having a space that we govern to give them that experience.”
While the British brand has global aspirations, the brand is currently prioritizing its U.S. business which accounts for 50% of total business. In the last 15 months, the brand has already made a splash in American pop-culture, appearing on the feet of Eva Longoria, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck and more celebrities.
“We’re doing something I think that maybe will shake up the industry a little bit,” Eribo said. “It’s fun to push things and see where they go.”