Stella McCartney and LVMH are backing a $200 million climate-related venture capital fund | Jobs Recent


British designer Stella McCartney has brought mycelium leather handbags, plant-derived faux furs and bio-engineered “MicroSilk” dresses to the runway, and is now deepening ties with the start-ups behind these materials via a $200 million climate fund that counts LVMH as a supporter .

McCartney, LVMH’s sustainability adviser, is the founder of the venture capital fund Collab SOS, which will be managed by the New York-based asset management group Collaborative Fund. Her fashion group is also a client of companies in which the fund invests, providing them with income.

“I’ve already developed R&D relationships with a lot of young companies, giving them orders and then handling their PR,” McCartney said in her first interview about the fund at her flagship London Bond Street store. “Now I am setting up an investment fund [in them further]”.

The Collab SOS Fund focuses on materials, energy and early-stage start-up chains that can deliver environmental benefits and turn a profit, said Sophie Bakalar, partner of the Collaborative Fund.

It aims to accelerate the time to market entry of portfolio companies by attracting potential clients such as McCartney and LVMH. “We like to invest in companies with $500,000 to $1 million in revenue per year,” said Bakalar. “Then the Stella team can come in, increase their revenue to $3m to $5mn, reduce their tech risk and hopefully at that point LVMH will come in as a client and $5mn will hopefully turn into $30mn “.

Brimstone Energy lab team

Venture capital fund Collab SOS’ investments extend beyond fashion materials to cement manufacturer Brimstone Energy

The fund’s 14 initial investments include start-ups that go beyond fashion, such as vertical farms, through New York-based Square Roots, co-founded by Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal, and “negative carbon” cement, through Brimstone Energy, in which includes the Breakthrough Energy fund backed by Bill Gates among its early investors.

Biomaterial companies in the fund with a clear use in fashion include Brooklyn-based Keel Labs, which has created a seaweed-based yarn that McCartney says could be a viable vegan alternative to wool.

Another investment is for Connecticut-based Protein Evolution, a recycling company that tries to make plastics, including complex blends of polyester, acrylic and nylon, that are infinitely recyclable.

To that end, McCartney donates leftover polyester and nylon from past collections to Protein Evolution to be recycled into “good-as-new” fibers to be shown in future runway collections.

Today, large-scale textile recycling relies on chemical recycling, a process where plastic waste is broken down into chemicals or oils, and has its critics.

It was McCartney who alerted the start-up to the challenges of recycling mixed textile waste in the fashion industry, co-founders Connor Lynn and Scott Stankey said in a telephone interview, an area they had not previously explored.

Protein Evolution's laboratory and office space in New Haven, Connecticut

Protein Evolution takes on the challenge of recycling mixed textile waste from Stella McCartney © Greg M. Cooper/Protein Evolution

Sustainability-focused tech startups were attracting more investors as development costs and risks fell, said Bakalar, a collaborative partner. “We are now at a turning point where climate technology is a space to support the venture. And climate is part of the culture now in a way it wasn’t a decade ago.”

Said McCartney about the Collab SOS model: “We will incubate these technologies, I will put them on my runway and when they are ready and the price is right, we can implement them and I can say: [to LVMH chief executive] Mr. Arnault, let’s do it.

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