2012 FashionTech Industry Report: Investment Data Crunch + Infographic


Welcome to Helium Magazine’s 2012 FashionTech Industry Report analyzing all of the investment activity in FashionTech companies during 2012.

In our introduction we mapped out how the last four years lead both Helium Magazine and the Bay Area fashion industry in general to focus on FashionTech and more global industry trends. Helium started following FashionTech in January of last year and worked with 7-time-CEO Jack Porter at the Forward Innovation Accelerator to really dive into the tech industry and investment trends.

What I immediately noticed was that there was ZERO transparency on investments in the FashionTech space. While media startups like the Business of Fashion, Decoded Fashion, 3rd Wave Fashion and SF FashTech were all doing a great job of covering the sector, there was no one actually tracking the transactions the way TechCrunch does with CrunchBase.

I also noticed that fashion’s quality aesthetic is often sacrificed in place for technology, but in this Industry Report we’re taking care of the data problem.


TechCrunch has an ingenious database called CrunchBase that essentially records every “investment transaction” that the site does a story on. The result is both a powerful resource for people to reference during research as well as a powerful tool for quantifiable analysis of investment activity.

Helium Magazine has completed a first version of a database similar to CrunchBase only exclusively focused on startups in the FashionTech space. We began by searching and transcribing all of the relevant companies in CrunchBase which constitutes about 60-70% of the 115 companies in Helium’s FashionTechBase (TM?).

TechCrunch is a tech company and only recently started picking up on the FashionTech trend so they quite often miss FashionTech funding announcements. By constantly searching for press releases and news sources throughout the year, Helium Magazine has pulled together a larger more encompassing database that should include every FashionTech investment made in the year 2012.

We are working with a new database plugin and plan on making this information publicly accessible by the end of the year.

However, there are two things that the database – and thus this report – do not include.

The first is major investments that were made in 2011 to companies like Pose, Stylitics and Sugar Inc. This report is only an analysis of the companies that received investment transactions in 2012. While we will eventually add as much 2011 and earlier investments to the database as possible, it will never be as accurate as our 2012 records which means we will have to be careful not to use the database to compare trends over history.

The second shortcoming of the database is that it only analyzes publicly announced funding. Fashion is a discrete industry and it is likely that many companies will choose not to announce their financial business and in fact we found many funding announcements that we were not able to record because they did not disclose actual amounts.

To this, we have to be happy that any data is good data. Although there are some firms that do detailed analysis of tech investments in the tech industry and have access to unannounced funding straight from venture capitalists, most reports for any industry will be no more or less accurate than this one.

So to conclude, this is our analysis of FashionTech companies that announced funding in 2012 only.


Click to enlarge or over mouse over to get embed codes.


Over the course of 12 months, we tracked 121 investments in 117 FashionTech companies.

The total capital invested was $1.62B. 53 seed investments were made totaling $62.3M in capital meaning the average seed investment for a FashionTech startup is $1.16M.

68 companies raised Series A or later Venture Capital rounds totaling $1.56B making the average VC investment round $22.9M.

E-Commerce took a lions share of the investment where 78 companies (67%) raised $1.5B (92%) of capital. When also looking at announced revenue, the general rule of thumb is that e-commerce companies will raise as much venture capital in a round as they expect to earn in revenue (not profit) that year. This means that 78 companies who raised $1.5B in venture capital also probably sold $1.5B of apparel last year.

When we analyzed the types of companies, we found about 33 were true technology companies where the core value offering was based on coding as opposed to a static ecommerce website. These companies raised $114.6M.

Under a more critical eye, 23 of these companies were producing true technological innovation specific for fashion’s needs. These companies raised $85.1M.

When we broke the database down by location, we found that New York was what we would have to call the “Fashion Technology Capital of the World” where 32 companies raised a whopping $452.5M. Germany technically came in second place with $300M of raised capital, but as this was only from two companies it is heavily skewed.

We will have a specific post analyzing the company later in the report, but an exclusive website called BestSecret.com sold a majority of its ownership to a private equity firm for $248M. This is a different type of capital and transaction than the rest of the venture capital tracked in this report. It is almost more similar to an acquisition than an investment.

Nevertheless, 16 companies in Los Angeles/SoCal area raised $198M. Just two companies in Brazil raised $172M which is only surprising in that more companies didn’t raise capital as Brazil’s fashion industry has been booming.

15 companies in San Francisco raised $87.7M and 6 companies in the Bay Area outside of the city raised $65.6M totaling $153.3M for the region. Boston surprisingly raised $77M through 5 companies, India $38.2M with 4 companies, France $36.9M with 8 companies, and Great Britain $36.2 with 8 companies.

In all, companies that took investment in 2012 have raised a total of $2.33B in venture capital including rounds from prior years.

UPDATE: I included The Fancy but forgot Pinterest who raised $100M from San Francisco last year. This raises total funding to $1.72B in 2012 and moves the Bay Area to the third largest FashionTech location with $253.3M of raised capital. But as Pinterest is not specifically a FashionTech company and The Fancy’s modest $26M round in New York does not have a large impact on the results, I am leaving the infographic and report unchanged. Please comment if you feel otherwise.


As e-commerce isn’t very exciting and doesn’t get much press coverage, we found many of the companies on the list to be both surprising and new to us. In the upcoming parts of this report, we will look closer at these companies to discover what trends are most successful and why.

As Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily likes to point out, Zappos was the only billion dollar exit in the last ten years. In a recent post on ecommerce 2.0, Michael Carney suggests that the success of shoes online is due to the fact that they are shipped in boxes which makes them just as convenient to ship as any other tech device which consumers are already accustomed to receiving in the mail. As there are many startups that do monthly box subscriptions, we are enclinced to agree with boxes being fantastic.

What is most encouraging about the data is that the number of startup companies receiving seed investment is almost equal to the number of companies that received venture capital rounds. This is a huge contrast to the tech industry at large where a boom of seed investments has produced too many companies for Venture Capitalists to invest in. It’s called the Series A Crunch and it will leave many companies stranded or going out of business who couldn’t scale fast enough.

This can be explained by most of the venture backed companies being ecommerce which don’t require startup funding to scale to the VC level. But I suspect that as excited as investors have become in fashiontech companies, they are still skeptical and uninformed which has capped any excessive hype. As there is only a small list of companies that have been acquired and an almost non-existant amount of information on how much those companies have been acquired for, this is a good thing.

Stay tuned for more analysis and please share this awesome-sauce report!

Matthew Mountford
Helium Magazine | Publisher


Great stuff.  

but you know you have a big typo:  "Top 10 InvestVESTments"?  

otherwise, awesome job and look forward to more reports! 


  1. […] seem to change at all with startups in the fashion sector. Looking at the 117 companies in our 2012 FashionTech Industry Report, only a few of them were founded by people who had worked in fashion. Most are either corders or […]

  2. […] made the list). There is much more information in there fantastic infographic, check it out here: http://www.heliummagazine.com/2012ftir-part-1-data-crunch-infographic/ This proves that there is money out there for your company to be funded, possibly beyond your […]

  3. […] by the enormous opportunity in fashion-tech?  You’re not alone.  Helium Magazine reports that $1.6 billion was invested in fashion-tech companies in 2012.  Business of Fashion […]

  4. […] the wearable technology startup scene seems to be booming. In its 2012 Fashion Tech Industry Report, Helium Magazine announced that $1.6 billion of venture capital has been invested in Fashion Tech […]

  • #FashionTech

    A blog promoting the evolution of the San Francisco Bay Area's fashion industry and evangelizing the Digital Manifestation of Fashion as the medium adopts technology.

    | Where Fashion is Electric |

  • YoutubeCategories