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Material Exchange is digitising the material sourcing process for the apparel and footwear industry and replacing the complex, fragmented relationships that exist between brands and suppliers. The B2B Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-enabled marketplace’s goal is to drive sustainability and efficiency across the $2 trillion fashion supply chain.

The new investment will power the growth of Material Exchange’s product suite, which includes a marketplace for connecting brands with a curated network of suppliers; a Brand Material Management System for organising materials and collaborating with stakeholders, and 3D scanning for creating accurate visuals. The company also plans to step up recruitment as it works towards its goal of driving sustainable business practices for the fashion industry by bringing transparency and digital transformation to market.

“With this round, we’re able to accelerate our mission of leading the global revolution to sustainable, transparent apparel and footwear material sourcing by aggregating fragmented data into one digital solution,” says Darren Glenister, Material Exchange’s CEO and founder. “We believe the shift will ultimately have the greatest impact for brands and suppliers as well as end-consumers.”

In an industry traditionally marked by complex and inefficient processes as well as high amounts of waste and pollution, Material Exchange says it offers an alternative that reduces waste, facilitates efficiency, and offers transparency in buying decisions. The platform already connects thousands of the world’s largest brands with material suppliers across the globe, it notes.

The latest funding round — led by Molten Ventures along with the continued support of previous seed investors including Partech, Inventure, Norrsken, Lyra, and Day One Capital — follows a period of growth for the start-up.

When the global pandemic hit in 2020, Material Exchange was approached by global denim trade show Kingpins, to develop a digital denim marketplace in place of the physical show. The success of this partnership spurred the company to focus on building and scaling the marketplace. It also led to Material Exchange’s acquisition of the Olah textile agency in October 2021, which operates the Kingpins Show. With the recent launch of its mobile app, Material Exchange is helping to further bridge the gap between digital and physical both on and off the trade show floor.

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Lucienne is the latest member of the Material Exchange team and it is an AI tool that automatically creates an infinite number of unique prints and patterns. This tool helps replace the inefficient and wasteful sampling process, allowing brands to become more sustainable as they assess their supplier choices based on economic and environmental factors as well as launches Material Exchange into the future of designing both physical and digital materials for the real and virtual metaverse.

“With Material Exchange, we see a significant and largely untapped opportunity in digitising the highly complex and offline fashion supply chain,” says Nicola McClafferty, partner at Molten Ventures. “The need for transparency and sustainability as well as ongoing supply chain disruptions are proving to be powerful forces for accelerating the structural trend of digitisation of sourcing workflows for both brands and suppliers in the apparel industry.

“We have been impressed not only by the early successes with leading brands and suppliers, but also by the team’s approach to building and owning this category. Such an understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the fashion supply chain can only come from a team of industry veterans, and having gotten to know Darren and the team, we have developed real conviction that this is an opportunity, approach, and team to back.”