50 digital native brands reinventing fashion

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.


Don’t miss: the inaugural FashTech Summit in London (and a discount for readers)


When referring to fashion and technology today, it’s often easy to assume we mean the flashy side of the industry – the technology that’s impacting how we do business from an exciting, exhilarating and game-changing perspective. But actually, what really counts are all those small iterations that increasingly make brands and retailers in this world more relevant to consumers and ultimately more commercially successful.

Fashion and technology, as a theme, can therefore capture everything from reworked supply chains to developments in fibre science, the role of digital media and social commerce, not to mention all the new players entering the space and encouraging an increased culture of competition.

It’s those very subjects that will be discussed at the inaugural FashTech Summit in London on April 13-15. Some 60 speakers will share their insights, including Robin Derrick, global creative director at Spring Studios; Kelly Kowal, managing director at Farfetch Black & White; Luca Marini, founder and COO at Finery; Wil Harris, digital director at Condé Nast Britain; Pia Stanchina, industry manager, digital acceleration of luxury, fashion and beauty at Google; and Elliott Goldenberg, head of digital payments at MasterCard.

The aim is to create a destination for dialogue that will accelerate innovation at this intersection of fashion and technology. Other themes to be discussed over the 2.5 days include the phone as a point of sale device, the evolution of fast and intelligent delivery systems in retail, what investors are looking for and where they see the industry moving, and what the psychological and visual catalysts are for consumers to click the “buy” button and make a purchase.

Debera Johnson, executive director at The Pratt Institute and Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, will explore whether the next Alexander McQueen will be a biologist, highlighting how scientific discoveries are reinventing the materials, function and properties of our clothing.

Meanwhile, Amy Nicholson, technical evangelist at Microsoft, ?will talk about intelligent systems from the knowledge of our environment becoming more realistic than ever before, outlining the roles of sensors, the power of cloud computing and the availability of complex machine learning algorithms.

An early FashTech event
An early FashTech event

“I’m thrilled to announce the official launch of the London FashTech Summit. As a firm believer in London’s role at the heart of the growing FashTech industry, I’m confident that our array of world class speakers, global brands, investors and start-ups will create a destination for dialogue and accelerate innovation at the intersection between fashion and technology. Together, we will challenge the status quo and unveil a comprehensive view of the FashTech landscape through dynamic, interactive events that showcase today’s and tomorrow’s brightest ideas,” says FashTech founder and CEO Alex Semenzato.

FashTech first launched in 2014 as an event series connecting the fashion and technology community through a series of meet-ups focused on start-up showcases and panel discussions. After 21 events in 19 months between London, New York and San Francisco there was a demand from the community to do more, says Semenzato.

Partners for the event include the digital division of Condé Nast Britain, as well as London & Partners. Alongside keynote presentations and themed panel discussions, there will be a workshop held to offer intimate consultancy sessions to delegates and a start-up showcase designed to support innovators from around the globe and attract an array of investors eager to find the next big thing.

The summit will take place in the heart of East London at Studio Spaces, E1. Even better news, readers of Fashion & Mash have unique access to 50% off the ticket price. Enter code FASHMASH via

(This is a sponsored post)