Warby Parker
Warby Parker

Arguably it started with eyewear at Warby Parker, but has continued through to impact everything from beauty products to luggage, shoes, mattresses and beyond.

We’re talking about the direct-to-consumer business model that has taken the industry by storm – the digital-first brands that both consumers and investors increasingly want to get their hands on.

From Warby you have Everlane, Away, Glossier, Casper and more. In fact, 50 of them from North America appear in a new list published by The Lead, a New York-based research, publisher and event series focused on empowering the fashion industry’s transition to digital centricity.

The Foremost 50, as those on the list are being called, are the digital native brands that are reinventing and redefining the future of the fashion and retail industry, according to The Lead’s founders, Timo Weiland and Noah Gellman.

Gellman refers to them as category-defining companies that have been propelled by significant investment. “To put this list together we looked at business model innovation, marketing efficiency, exposure to competition, capital efficiency and the reinvention of traditional brand and retail practices. We wanted to know not just who are the best companies, but who will be tomorrow’s category leaders while creating significant value for their investors,” he explained.

The list details what each brand does and the kind of investment they’ve already achieved, from razor brand Harry’s $474.6m to consignment site, The RealReal’s $288m. It also outlines who the founders and CEOs are behind each business, or the “rule-breakers, risk takers and visionaries” driving things forward, as Gellman refers to them.

The 50 will be celebrated at The Lead Summit on October 24 in Brooklyn, where TheCurrent’s founder, Liz Bacelar, will be interviewing Eleanor Morgan, chief experience officer at mattress brand Casper. She’ll also be presenting TheCurrent’s view on retail innovation for 2019.