Mumbai-based D2C casual wear brand The Souled Store has raised INR 75 Cr ($10 Mn) in Series B funding led by Elevation Capital. Angel investors, including Delhivery cofounder Sahil Barua, Zalora CEO Gunjan Soni, Mosaic Wellness cofounder Revant Bhate, Livspace founder Ramakant Sharma, Urban Ladder founder Ashish Goel, OYO CEO Rohit Kapoor, Urban Company SVP Mukund Kulashekaran, and The Glitch cofounder Varun Duggirala, also participated in the round.
The latest round follow’s the startup’s $1.5 Mn Series A, which saw investment from RPSG Capital in November 2018.
The startup will use the capital to expand its licensed merchandise and casual wear product portfolio, expand its manufacturing capabilities, invest in marketing and offline retail presence, and hiring. It plans to expand its retail footprint to 15 cities pan India.
Founded in 2013 by Aditya Sharma, Rohin Samtaney, Vedang Patel, and Harsh Lal, The Souled Store is a D2C casual wear brand that started out as a branded merchandise apparel brand. In the last few years, it has diversified its product mix from branded merchandise to casual wear for men and women, athleisure, bags and loungewear.
The Souled Store currently has license deals for branded merchandise for Disney, Warner Bros, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Indian Premier League (IPL), English Premier League (EPL) and more. The startup uses an algorithmic-driven approach to identify the right designs and product-market fit. It currently claims to have over 3 Mn registered users and says it is on track to do an INR 500 Cr GMV in 2022.
However, the competition in the D2C fashion arena is quite intense. Besides big name brands, private labels of Myntra, Ajio and Amazon, the Indian market features D2C startups such as Bewakoof.com, StyleCracker, Chumbak, Print Pitara, Wrogn, Nicobar, FabAlley among others in the casual wear segment.
Cofounder Patel said the focus going forward will be to introduce a variety of new product categories and expand retail presence to fulfil the aim of crossing INR 1,000 Cr GMV by 2025.
Among D2C categories, fashion has shown the highest potential to attract VC funding as well as in terms of market traction. The fashion segment is expected to account for 43% of the $100 Bn D2C market opportunity by 2025, according to the Inc42 Plus The Rise Of India’s D2C: Market Landscape And Trends Report, 2021. Indian fashion brands have raised well over $756 Mn in funding from 2014 to April 2021.
The apparel and footwear categories are expected to dominate the D2C fashion market, accounting for nearly 77.1% of the total market by 2025. The focus on sustainability, design, and technology integration for personalisation, customer experience and omnichannel presence are expected to be the key success factors in this space.