Underwear brand Heist Studios has raised $2.6 million from leading fashion and e-commerce investors, including Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, the New York fund, 14W, the founders of Innocent; and Pembroke VCT, the fund behind the eponymous fashion brand, ALEXACHUNG.
The London based fashion firm was founded two years ago with the aim of turning tights from ‘a necessary evil into something you’d be truly excited to wear’ , a message that resonates with women in the city and beyond. As a point of differentiation, Heist tights are invisible under clothes, with their only seam sewn at the base of the foot rather than at the tips of the toes. The tights also have a 5000 thread count, compared to the standard 500.
Since launch, the business has sold over 100,000 pairs of tights from its UK base, and has been growing at 25 per cent month on month. The global underwear market in 2016 was £54 billion, and separate research from Global Industry Analysts Inc. forecasts the global market for hosiery alone to exceed $27 billion.
Heist CEO Toby Darbyshire plans to use the funding boost to expand the team locally, while growing the company’s international footprint from its current presence in 35 countries. “In underwear, there are a number of items that need modernising. We have started with tights but will in time seek to address other garments that have been long overlooked for an upgrade,” Darbyshire said.
“Our long-term goal is to build an underwear brand for the modern woman and we’re really excited to bring the experience of industry icons like Natalie and the Innocent founders into the firm, alongside some of the best venture capitalists in the business.”
The company started by innovating in hosiery, working with a group of 67 women over 12 months and making 196 samples to create a seamless, 3D knitted design that borrows from Italian sportswear.