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D2C Grows Up 🛍️

D2C Grows Up 🛍️
September 13, 2021

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Trends and nostalgia are cyclical. For my generation, who looks back on the early 2000s with some grimacing (ie, the low rise jeans, the over-plucked eyebrows), it's jarring to see these trends coming back into fashion. While low-rise jeans are not reappearing in my wardrobe anytime soon, I have re-embraced one thing -- namely, the early aughts teen drama set in Newport Beach which brought to the cultural zeitgeist things like “Chrismakkuh,” Modest Mouse, and gifs of a teenage mental breakdown. That show of course is, The OC. Apart from the steamy romantic entanglements and comforting parenting style exhibited by Peter Gallagher, there’s also the remembrance of a bygone era of malls and retail shopping more generally. We never see Marissa scrolling for her next fundraising event cocktail dress; she just jumps into her red leather Mustang and goes. 

In 2021, we can forget those days. We’ve got Amazon for mostly everything and brands that speak to our human natures are selling us mattresses that get delivered to our doors. But might these companies, who showed up on the scene not unlike a brazen teenager, ready to shake things up with their disruptive business models (eyeglasses in the mail! Sneakers–straight up.) have matured a bit in recent years?

D2C grows up

Allbirds and Warby Parker both filed to go public in late August and revealed some surprising departures from their original reputations. Namely, each's previously uncharted path has been leading towards more traditional methods of building a fashion retail company; both brands expect to increase their retail storefronts significantly in the coming years. It turns out that a mall icon like Abercrombie & Fitch, with their 10-foot images of hunky teens and the headache-inducing cologne and techno music emanating from their storefront, was creating a strong brand and loyal customer base. For D2C brands, customer acquisition is expensive, requiring heavy spending in marketing and the painstaking building of an online persona.

Retailers have to innovate

Speaking of Abercrombie, the behemoth clothing brand has had a rocky few years, which is to say that a strong brick-and-mortar presence isn’t enough these days to keep a company relevant. Abercrombie's answer is to tap into the influencer pool for sugary sweet branded content, most notably by the TikTok phenoms the D’Amelio sisters, in a partnership through Hollister (in the Abercrombie family). Kohl’s, the wholesale retailer that is somewhere between a big box store and a department store, has created beneficial partnerships with Amazon and Sephora. Customers can return their 3am Amazon purchases in-store at Kohl’s and–hopefully–stick around to do some in-store shopping.

Mall 2.0

Like most things in 2021, we’re negotiating a new world with a bit of the old and a bit of the new. Retail isn’t dead; nor are we going to give up couch shopping when we’re able to get up and sniff gift shop candles with abandon. There’s an industry of retail marketplaces popping up, infusing traditional brick & mortar with the benefits of tech. And a second sale is a second chance at profit for retailers getting in on product reselling spurred on by trends from The RealReal, Poshmark, and Depop.

Since last week, PrivCo has added:
566 Companies | 65 Funding Activities | 53 M&A Deals

Funding & Deal Highlights:


Orchard raises $100MM from Accomplice

Real Estate • Round D • New York, NY

Koyo raises $50MM from Force Over Mass Capital 

Fintech • Round A • West End Ward, Inner London

Wild Earth raises $23MM from At One Ventures

Pet Food • Round B • Berkeley, CA

Aviatrix Systems raises $200MM from Technology Crossover Ventures

Cloud Networking • Round E • Santa Clara, CA

Borneo raises $18MM from Chris Roberson

Cyber Security • Round A • San Francisco, CA

Vowel raises $13.5MM from David Hornik

Conferencing Software • Round A • New York, NY

Jetty raises $23MM from Flourish Ventures

InsurTech • Equity • New York, NY

Novi raises $10.3MM from Greylock Partners 

Software • Round A • San Francisco, CA

Notion acquires

API • Acquisition • San Francisco, CA

888 Holdings Public acquires William Hill’s non-US Business for $3BN

Hotels, Resorts, Casinos • Acquisition • Gibraltar, Gibraltar


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