JustWears, the direct-to-consumer brand transforming menswear with ergonomic designs and biodegradable fabrics, has raised £2.6 million in seed funding from Pembroke VCT, Ignite XL and Sunshine Ventures. Angel investors including Hustle Fund general manager Elizabeth Yin and Pasta Evangelists co-founder James McArthur also participated in the round.
JustWears was launched in 2018 by co-founders Yang Liu and Alex Walsh to address a gap in the men’s underwear market after their Kickstarter became the most-backed apparel campaign in the UK. Fed up with poorly fitting, sub-standard products made from unsustainable materials, the pair set out to revolutionise the basics industry by creating functional solutions for everyday clothing using materials made from natural sources including trees, seaweed and corn.
The company’s first product is a pair of comfortable underwear made with an innovative pouch design and mesh undercarriage that promotes airflow. It is crafted from tree fibres which are sustainably sourced from forestries in Austria and uses 10 times less water and 20 times less arable land to produce compared with cotton.
Since launching, JustWears has sold over 150,000 items to more than 40,000 customers in 70+ countries and received more than 3,000 five star reviews. The company is disrupting the $30 billion men’s underwear market by providing an alternative to hyper-sexualised brands such as Calvin Klein and creating a new level of comfort that speaks to the modern man. This success has seen JustWears grow more than 250% year on year and the company’s products have been featured on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, This Morning and Gogglebox.
Revolutionising everyday clothing
Yang studied at the Nanjing Agricultural University, one of the top agricultural universities in China, served as a marketing manager of an IoT start-up before moving to the UK and joining the venture capital fund 500 Startups’ London office. Her experience combines materials research, marketing and investing in consumer brands.
JustWears is on a mission to use sustainably sourced materials and ergonomic designs to improve people’s lives. To do this, the company has raised £2.6 million in seed funding led by Pembroke VCT which is managed by Andrew Wolfson and brings deep knowledge of the consumer sector. The funding will be used to grow the team to around 15 people, invest in bringing new innovative, biodegradable materials to the market and develop the company’s next product lines.
Yang Liu, co-founder and CEO at JustWears, said: “Having experienced first-hand the impact of unsustainable crops like cotton can have on the plant, the time is now to reduce our over-reliance on certain natural fabrics. After all, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and until there is a commitment by brands and companies to change the materials they use, this isn’t going to happen. We’re excited to bring Pembroke and our other amazing investors on this journey to help lead this change and create comfortable and sustainable everyday clothing items that people love.”
Simon Porter, investment director at Pembroke VCT, said: “When we first met Yang and Alex, we were hugely impressed with their motivation and dedication, as well as their ability to innovate in a category that is ripe for disruption. The JustWears team has created a high-quality product, made with a focus on sustainability. We are delighted to be an investor in JustWears and look forward to working with the team to help the business continue to grow at an impressive speed.”
Aihui Ong, general partner at Sunshine Ventures, said: “We are highly impressed with Yang Liu, her team, and their proven ability to grow and build a loyal following with their data-driven strategies. Beyond price, consumers today value traceability, where the materials are sourced, sustainability and supply chain. JustWear’s fun, innovative designs and sustainable choices are resonating with today’s consumer needs and values. For such a young company, we believe JustWears has massive opportunities for continued growth, and we look forward to aiding their success.”