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June 17, 2022

Gap Inc takes equity stake in sneaker startup Saysh

Gap Inc's Athleta brand has led a US$8m Series A funding round with consumer fund Iris into startup sneaker and lifestyle brand Saysh.

By Hannah Abdulla

Saysh will use the Gap Inc funding to scale its e-commerce business, wholesale distribution, and community-based retail footprint. It will also look to grow its product offering by launching several new activity-specific sneakers.

The brand has been founded by Olympian Allyson Felix and her brother Wes Felix.

Through its existing platform, Saysh says it has been able to successfully test different ideas and concepts to inform its product portfolio moving forward.

“This is an exciting next step for the brand, and we’re so grateful to those partners who see the potential for Saysh to help shape a better future for us all,” said Wes Felix, co-founder and CEO of Saysh. “Saysh, at its core, celebrates women and their voices, and this funding further empowers us to lead in that regard. We are now, more than ever, positioned to understand and meet the needs of our customers, delivering more value than ever before.”

Intentionally created by and for women, the brand’s debut product: the Saysh One, is said to be the first women’s athletics sneaker to be built from the sole up for a woman’s foot. In line with this mission, Saysh was seeking woman-owned, woman-led funding for their Series A round.

The advisor to Iris Fund I FCRE, Iris Ventures leads the round as a specialist consumer fund that bets on categories where women are the majority end consumer such as health, wellness, beauty, and education.

Athleta, a performance lifestyle brand that champions women, will continue its partnership with Allyson, now as an investor in Saysh. Athleta’s investment was brokered by Gap Inc’s Strategic Growth Office (SGO), a unit of the company that seeks out opportunities to fuel growth and accelerate new capabilities across its portfolio of brands. As part of the investment, Gap Inc has acquired an equity stake in Saysh and Athleta has entered into a partnership to showcase the brand’s footwear on Athleta.com.

Felix and Athleta’s partnership began when she became their first sponsored athlete in 2019. In June 2021, shortly after Saysh’s launch, they partnered to offer a collection of athletic wear, as well as offering an exclusive Rose colourway version of the Saysh One on Athleta.com. That same year, Athleta and Allyson partnered to launch The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants, a first-of-its-kind grant programme that committed $200,000 to help fund childcare costs for professional mom-athletes traveling to competitions, including six who participated in the Tokyo Olympics.

Last week, Gap Inc was among the latest ten companies announcing new commitments to create economic opportunity in northern Central America as part of Vice President Kamala Harris’ Call to Action for the region.

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