Omar Bailey, the former head of Yeezy-Adidas Innovation Lab, and Abhishek Som, a former private equity executive, have raised $6 million to launch a footwear prototyping lab and venture studio called FCTRY LAb.
The independent and BIPOC-led footwear production company aims to democratize sneaker production and open-source innovation for emerging and established designers and brands of all sizes. Its launch follows prolonged production delays that have severely impacted the footwear industry since 2020 — a problem FCTRY LAb is seeking to solve by making high-technology accessible.
The company is looking to cut the industry-standard production timeframe from 8 to 12 months to a short 1 to 3 months. FCTRY LAb is also aiming to make the sneaker production process more equitable, as large sneaker corporations are notorious for making significant profits off minority designers, influencers and athletes.
The funding was supported by investors such as the co-founder of Tinder (via Time Zero Capital), the co-founder of WeWork, the West Coast head of Warburg Pincus, and various NBA & NFL stars via Chicago-based Aurelien Capital.
Meanwhile, venture capital investment was led by Pay-Pal-backed Slauson & Co, with additional investment from Relay Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures (the private investment arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group), Level One Fund & Fog City Capital, among others.
Photo credit: FCTRY LAb