Carnet de Mode (CDM), the Paris-based online fashion marketplace, has announced that its closed a $1.5 million Series A round — yes, in Europe we call that a Series A — led by Elaia Partners with participation from a number of angels. This brings the total raised by the company to approximately $1.8 million, having previously raised €100k in seed funding in July 2012.
The French startup, whose original backers include Pascal Chevalier (former Chairman and CEO of Netbooster and now owner of Marie France magazine) and Marie Christine Levet (founder of Lycos, former CEO of Club Internet, and Partner at Jaina Capital), says it will use the new capital to expand the team, invest in marketing, and launch its multi-brand boutiques segment. It will also be focusing on international business development as it hopes to attract more consumers and designers from outside France to its platform.
The problem that CDM has set out to solve is that it’s difficult for fashion designers to access financing for production, as well as their communication and marketing. Most emerging designers don’t have an online presence or an e-shop and instead sell to a middle person to distribute their collections on their behalf. Meanwhile, customers don’t have easy access to new and emerging designers and can’t find original and unique pieces that are different from the brands already available in shops.
CDM solves this by offering designers a platform that gives them a personalized e-shop to present their current and future collections and manage their sales and logistics worldwide. This includes a pre-order facility so that fans can essentially crowdfund their future work in return for getting their hands on original and unique pieces from otherwise inaccessible designers on a single platform.
“We invest also in communication and marketing to bring to them the exposure they need,” founder and CEO Arbia Smiti tells TechCrunch. “The designer doesn’t pay anything for these services and we only take a commission on the generated sales on our website.” That commission — 50% of each sale — may seem steep compared to competitors. However, Smiti says that CDM provides “many more services than a classic marketplace”, such as PR, marketing, partnerships, branding, customer service, payments, and a “very intuitive and design-forward backoffice for designers.”
CDM currently offers access to over 200 up and coming designers, comprising more than 6,000 exclusive fashion items. It claims to be the first platform of its kind in France, though Smiti concedes there are close competitors in the UK, where CDM also targets, such as Boticca and Not Just A Label. And with the launch of a new section on the site giving multi-brand physical boutiques an online presence, the startup will also be running up against the likes of Farfetch, says Smiti.
In addition to Elaia Partners, angel investors participating in today’s announced A round include Eric Pinot, CEO of SIA Group; Xavier Dura, former CEO of Nocibé Group; Thierry Petit, Founder of Showroomprivé.com; Gaël Duval, Founder of Nextedia and CEO/Founder of JECHANGE.fr; Claude Rameau, President of Paris Business Angels; and Francesco Maio, a very active angel investor in France.