When sustainability rhymes with fashion — two Spanish startups leading the way

Last June 11th Seb Fernandez from Samaipata and I hosted the first ever FAB event in Madrid. (For those who haven’t heard of the now global Fashion and Beautytech Community initially launched in San Francisco by Odile Roujol, you should definitely check this page). It was an opportunity to gather 40+ Madrid-based founders in the fashion, beauty and consumer spaces — to share experiences, learnings and thoughts about how to build and scale a mission-driven brand in Southern Europe.

In a country that was harshly hit by an economic crisis just a few years ago, you’d think sustainability is far behind any company’s priorities. It is however thriving to see that young startups are leading the way to better, more respectful production and consumption patterns.

For our first get-together, we had the chance to have as speakers Marta Llaquet and Federico Sainz, the founders of Wado and Sepiia.

In a very open conversation, they shared with us their experiences in building two of the up and coming sustainable fashion startups in Spain. Here’s what we learned:

From Wado, classic sneakers for game changers

Made in the E.U. with organic and recycled materials. €2M+ raised on Kickstarter/Indiegogo. 15000+ pairs of sneakers sold the first year in 67 countries. 2 trees planted for every pair of shoes bought: 37600 trees planted so far, and counting.

“When we started Wado we only had one goal in mind: to make timeless sneakers and use them as a vehicle for change; a change in our people and our planet.” — Marta Llaquet

  • Addressing an untapped market. The sneaker category ($64 billion in 2017) is growing (+5% yearly) but how many brands are actually sustainable? We can name a few, Veja, Everlane, Patagonia… who’ve been able to build loyal communities around strong social values. But with an increasing demand for better products, made with better materials in better working conditions, it was obvious for Wado that there was room for another shoe.

From Sepiia, when tech meets fashion & sustainability

Made sustainably in Spain. Launched in 2016, €500,000 sold last year. Alumni of Lanzadera’s acceleration program (created by Juan Roig).

“Two years ago, I had a dream to create a functional piece of clothing that was more respectful to the planet.” — Fede Sainz

  • Technology, at the intersection of functionality and sustainability. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. For years, Federico Sainz — industrial and textile engineer, had wanted to bring his contribution. In 2016, he develops a first collection of smart shirts for men. Thanks to an innovative technology based on micro-threads (every thread is made of 47 micro-threads), 3D tissues, and silver nanoparticles that have antibacterial properties, the shirts never smell bad, get stained nor wrinkled. The patterns are simple yet modern, for the everyday life. The shirts (now also available for women) are made in Spain with materials and processes that have the lowest impact on the production cycle.

We’d like to thank Marta, Federico and all the wonderful participants who joined us! Stay tuned for our next event in September.

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Co-founder & CEO @ROWSE, ex-Eutopiavc, ex-BlaBlaCar, ex-Rocket Internet