[VILNIUS] Vinted, an online marketplace for second-hand clothes, has surfed a sustainable fashion wave to become Lithuania's first technology startup to reach "unicorn" status with a valuation of over US$1 billion.
The company, created in 2008 as one founder wanted to give away surplus clothes after moving to a new house, is growing rapidly as the fashion industry comes under growing scrutiny for fuelling a throwaway culture.
In a sign of the times, Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and one of the most powerful voices in fashion, told Reuters the industry needed to pursue more sustainability and that fashionistas should care for their clothes and pass them on.
Vinted said nearly 1.3 billion euros (S$1.96 million) worth of reused clothing would change hands on its platform this year.
"We are approaching an inflection point in the market for second-hand fashion. Consumers around the world are becoming increasingly conscious of their buying choices," chief executive Thomas Plantenga said.
Vinted said on Thursday the latest funding round had raised 128 million euros, valuing the company at more than 1 billion euros. The latest investment was well above the 50 million euros raised in a previous round in August 2018.
US-based venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, with participation from existing backers such as Sprints Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Accel and Burda Principal Investments.
The funds will be used for further expansion in Europe, as well as for doubling its product and technology teams to 600 people, the company said. It now has 25 million users in 11 European countries including France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands, as well as in the United States.
With Vinted, the Baltic states region of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have spawned a third of all tech unicorns ever created in central and eastern Europe, such as ride-sharing service Bolt and money transfer company TransferWise, according to a November 2019 report by investment tracking firm Dealroom.co.
Skype, now part of Microsoft, and gambling software maker Playtech, were also founded in Estonia.