Meet Highsnobiety, from sneakers blog to lifestyle brand for the Millennials

Felix leads $8.5m investment in bootstrapped digital media business, in line with its investment thesis focused on the Creative Class

When there is a queue, there’s passion, and a business opportunity…

Our office at Felix Capital is based in Soho, in London. When we launched 3 years ago we felt it was the right place to be, in the middle of where popular culture sparks and comes alive in London, with vibrant stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, and a constant flow of people from all over the world. As we walk past some of these stores we often notice these long queues, typically fashion-conscious young men, proudly exhibiting their latest puff jacket worn with a limited edition sneaker, while queuing to buy the latest drop from North Face, Nike or Supreme. Where there’s a queue, there’s a business opportunity… and streetwear is now at the heart of popular culture, especially for young men from 15 to 30, Generation Z and Millenials.

The most striking example of the profound social trend is the rise of Supreme, whose London store is 2 blocks away from our office. With just 3 stores and a business mainly built on collaborations with other brands, they have built one of the world’s most influential brands for this audience, globally. As they are waiting in line, patiently, it’s very likely that these young men are on the mobile phone, reading Highsnobiety, the insiders’ destination for emerging trends in fashion, culture and lifestyle.

Welcome to Highsnobiety in the Felix family

Today, we are delighted too announce our $8.5m investment in Highsnobiety, a digital media business that started 12 years ago as a sneakers’ blog, launched by David Fischer while a student. Twelve years on and he has built organically, without ever external capital, a business with over 100 people across its offices in New York, London and Berlin, and a thriving community of 9 million people globally. Highsnobiety has emerged as a highly influential media company among young, educated and affluent readers, namely for its ability to detect and induce emerging trends across fashion, sneakers, music, art and style. David’s mission is to create something that will be around for a long time. As he saw see how audiences engage with Highsnobiety’s multiple platforms across digital, experiential and on the road at events, he realised the need to step up the investment in those areas in order to interact with them in more engaging and relevant ways throughout the year. This is what our capital will help the team to execute on.

Building brands at the intersection of content and commerce

Backing digital brands at the intersection of content and commerce is a core investment theme of Felix and Highsnobiety is one of the most striking opportunities, as it was built as a media business with predominantly content related to products, especially which products to buy across multiple lifestyle segments. The editorial focus on brand and product discovery provides a strong base for diversifying into direct-to-consumer and experiential revenues. At Felix, we like brands that are authentic, which have shown an evidence of “customer love”, growing organically and building a strong trust and authority with their audience. This is hard to do, and a scarce asset; but these are all the characteristics of Highsnobiety, which has built this community without any external support and capital. This is impressive and we feel that there are so many opportunities ahead of us to extend the platform and continue to boost the content, commerce and experiential offering under the brand. Goop has managed to do this very successfully for instance, adding revenue streams while staying “on-brand”.

It is the third time that we back at Felix a company that initially started as a simple blog, created by one individual out of sheer passion and personal interest, having backed previously Imran Amed at The Business of Fashion and Gwyneth Paltrow at goop. When we first met David in Berlin (having initially pinged him on LindkedIn!), we were struck by his passion, simplicity, humility, and big vision. Luckily it was just when he felt that having a partner on board would help, as he could see so many opportunities to accelerate growth and diversify revenue streams. On our side we are particularly please to have spotted David and his business, as it is such a great illustration of our core investment thesis at the intersection of technology and creativity, Highsnobiety is definitely a brand for the Creative Class.

David Fisher, Founder & CEO, Highsnobiety

We believe that Highsnobiety has the potential to become a defining brand for this generation. We don’t mind opportunities that start narrowly (like a sneakers’ blog) and expand reach and ambition over time while staying true to their original mission. This is just what happened with Farfetch for instance where we have worked with José Neves to help him expand from an online collection of independent boutiques to a global platform for the luxury industry. We look forward to working closely with David Fischer (Founder and CEO), Juergen Hopfgartner (COO), Jeff Carvalho (US Managing Director) and the rest of the team to make this a reality, and build a large business at the intersection of content and commerce, with a global reach and immense influence.

From now on we will just have to be a little more careful about which sneakers we wear…

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