19 August 2018 Business

Cimpress moves into fashion with textile print investment

Online print giant Cimpress has become major shareholder in a US business focused on production on demand for the fashion industry.

Cimpress has acquired a majority stake in San Francisco online design and textile print business Vida & Co.

It is the first move into digital textile printing, though Cimpress offers polyester display printing and promotional clothing through other operations. Vida is different. It is pitched at the designer end of the market, describing itself as a “global partnership of co-creators, from a designer in Paris, to a producer in Karachi and a consumer in San Francisco”.

The company launched its website in 2014 with backers that included Google Ventures and Universal Music. It has grown from 75 products at the time with two styles of silk tops and three types of scarf. Today it hosts more than 100,000 designers from 150 countries. Most are from the fashion industry with clothing, accessories, home decor and also 3D printed jewellery, all produced on demand

It works with a network of printers and companies able to finish the garments, paying a liveable wage to these producers thanks to working direct with its suppliers, and funding educational initiatives for factory workers.

Cimpress is paying $29 million for its equity investment. It will remain an autonomous brand within Cimpress, though linked to the company’s mass customisation platform.

Cimpress CEO Robert Keane says: “We are investing in Vida because of its innovative and fastmoving approach to disrupting the large market for retailgrade consumer products via mass customisation,

Vida founder and CEO Umaimah Mendhro and her executive team are experienced and focused entrepreneurs, who will remain co-owners in the business and continue to build Vida for the long term. Vida pushes the boundaries of where Cimpress has historically operated and thus opens the door for us to expand our mass customisation efforts into new and different markets.”

Vida is a long way from Vistaprint, the initial Cimpress company that has pushed cheap printing to consumers and small businesses. The new acquisition takes online printing to a completely new sector of high production values, limited editions and associated prices. On Vistaprint 250 business cards will sell for £19.99; on Vida a single T-shirt starts at $40.

Both however share an approach to the market that challenges existing structures. Mendhro says: “We are thrilled to find in Cimpress a visionary partner that we feel a deep alignment with, in terms of philosophy and values as well as our strategic vision for the business.

“We believe the traditional retail industry, where a group of buyers predict demand and build inventory before any sales are materialised, is broken. With the innovations in rapid manufacturing and mass customisation, a growing global creative community, and clear demand from consumers for unique products that are made in a responsible way, Vida is in a unique position to partner with Cimpress and benefit from its technology and mass customisation infrastructure to build the retail of the future.”

Gareth Ward

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Cimpress is stepping into the fashion arena buying a majority stake in production on demand fashion site Vida&Co which works with thousands of designers and with direct to garment printing to deliver individual styles of female customers.

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