Everyone at this point knows that the general supply chain that serves the fashion industry is a nightmare. It was only a little over two years ago that the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh killed over 1,200 people and forced big fashion brands to confront the dirty secrets of the awful practices of their suppliers yet again.
It was in this context, amid a growing push for greater oversight and an increasing number of startup fashion brands catering to this sustainable sensibility, that Jag Gill began working on Sundar, which offers a new way for designers to source materials for clothes.
Now, with $1.3 million in funding led by New Enterprise Associates and participation from Techstars Ventures, Correlation Ventures and undisclosed angel investors, the company is readying itself for a launch in the spring of 2016.
The company’s technology links a curated selection of textile mills and materials suppliers with clothing manufacturers, brands and designers to ensure the quality and transparency of its supply chain.
The company has its roots Boston, but began bearing fruit when Gill hooked up with the New York fashion world.
Gill began working on the project in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the company was incubated at Techstars, but it took flight through its connections with the New York Fashion Tech Lab, a two-year-old program sponsored by companies like Coach, Kate Spade, and Macy’s that connects entrepreneurs with industry insiders.
“Sundar brings the kind of meaningful step change to an industry that excites us as investors,” said Ravi Viswanathan, General Partner at NEA, in a statement. “Whether it’s giving family-run luxury suppliers in Italy the ability to scale up with new buyers; or helping mass-market fashion manufacturers diversify their supply relationships, Sundar removes the inefficiencies that characterize sourcing today.”
“We’re building a web application for both buyers and sellers,” says Gill. “So far, we had a private beta where we got the market validation and traction that we needed to get the interest of investors.”
Using Sundar buyers can source and buy textiles through the app. And it’s a step up from the current process, which Gill, rightly, calls “arcane”.
The company is currently working with under 100 suppliers and has focused on Italy and India as its first markets.
“We’ve done the first iteration of the product and we’ve leveraged our on-the-ground relationships in these regions with people who are highly skilled designers,” says Gill. And unlike other platforms that focus on a particular material, Sundar will run the gamut to meet all of a designer’s needs, she says.
“Other platforms just focus on textiles,” says Gill. “We’re going to focus on the fabrications, textiles, trims, accessories and components.”