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Leather-focused start-ups make the cut at the Farfetch Dream Academy

Fashion start-ups from around the world arrived in Lisbon on September 7 to begin a 12-week mentoring programme with specialist technology platform for the luxury fashion industry Farfetch.

Farfetch announced the programme, which it has called Dream Academy, in April and has chosen an initial cohort of 11 companies to take part. As well as the mentoring programme, to which luxury brand Burberry will contribute “knowledge and resources”, Farfetch has committed to giving the start-ups networking opportunities and early-stage funding of €30,000 each.

The programme also includes a demo day in London in November, at which companies will have the chance to pitch their projects to a selected pool of external investors for follow-on funding.

Chief strategy officer, Stephanie Phair, said: “The companies we have selected for the first Dream Assembly cohort all have great potential to present innovative solutions and are capable of shaping the future of commerce.”

Among the first 11 Dream Academy participants are several companies with a specific focus on leather, leathergoods and footwear. These include FTSY, a start-up from Canada that has developed an app to make shopping for shoes online easier. Using artificial intelligence and smartphones, FTSY scans a users’ feet and instantly curates a personalised footwear collection to match the shape of each shopper’s feet.

The focus of Hong Kong participant Upstream is on pre-owned luxury accessories. Upstream’s founders (who originally come from Portugal but have been based in Asia for ten years) have calculated that the the pre-owned luxury market is now worth $20 billion per year. This company uses data to curate authentic, pre-owned luxury accessories and supplies them to specialist retailers (online and offline) in 30 countries.

Similarly, New York-based start-up Villageluxe aims to promote what it calls “the sharing economy revolution”. It says it wants consumers to buy fewer handbags to prevent waste, but to concentrate on high quality. And to be able still to have access to a wide variety of brands and styles, Villageluxe offers its customers the opportunity to borrow other people’s bags. It argues that this will offer consumers access to “an endless world of luxury accessories” and make luxury fashion more sustainable.

The Restory, based in London, is another Dream Academy participant that seeks to give new life to old shoes and bags. It has a team of artisans at its disposal that works to recolour, recondition and even reconstruct high-value handbags and footwear. The Restory describes itself as having “a serious soft spot for beautiful, luxurious shoes and bags”. It says its mission is to have consumers fall in love with their favourite pieces all over again. Customers can arrange to have goods picked up or drop them off at a dedicated collection point located in the Harvey Nichols store in Knightsbridge.

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