Início Tech Urbanic, a Brand Using AI to Optimize Productivity, Expands Into U.K.

Urbanic, a Brand Using AI to Optimize Productivity, Expands Into U.K.

LONDON — Urbanic, a London-based fashion brand harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to reduce waste, streamline production, predict demand, and optimize productivity, is expanding its offering to the U.K. after entering markets such as India, Mexico and South America.

The brand celebrated the launch with a casual party, cohosted by model Erin Wasson, at the SeaShell of Lisson Grove in Marylebone, serving fish and chips with beer to guests including Poppy Delevingne, Mary Charteris, Banita Sandhu, Ruby Barker and Rina Lipa.

Rahul Dayama, founding partner at Urbanic and a former photographer, said he liked the fact that guests at the pub across the street looked confused about what was going on at a neighborhood fish and chips place on a Thursday night.

During an interview with WWD ahead of the party, Dayama said he witnessed AI’s power and potential when he worked as a marketing executive at StyleCracker, an Indian online personal styling platform not dissimilar to Stitch Fix.

At Urbanic, which offers affordable and seasonal fashion items, AI touches almost every corner except for fashion design itself, said Dayama. “Being a photographer and a creative person, I would never want AI to take pictures,” he added.

“AI for us is an end-to-end process. It is very predictive when it comes to understanding the consumers. It helps us to work with designers to reduce the logistics, from understanding the consumer trends to ordering sampling, reordering with the manufacturers, and everything is done digitally,” explained Dayama.

He said the website is also equipped with a back-end heat map, which helps Urbanic understand what people are spending time on, and helps the designer to understand the logistical allotment of the product.

Banita Sandhu and Jessica Plummer attend the Urbanic launch party at the SeaShell of Lisson Grove

Banita Sandhu and Jessica Plummer attend the Urbanic launch party at the SeaShell of Lisson Grove.

Dave Benett/Getty Images for Urbanic

In terms of design, Dayama said there is also a lot of input through data to understand what is working for what region.

“We currently are not using AI to design any product. The design team does get a lot of support from AI when it comes to sampling and testing. For example, we have warehouses in London, India and Mexico. So AI helps us to decide what part of the collection and how much should we stock in which warehouse for seamless delivery. It helps us to reduce the deadstock to less than 1 percent,” said Dayama.

The internal, AI-powered structure of Urbanic has attracted attention among major tech and consumer investors. Since its launch in 2019, the company has been growing at an average rate of 120 percent a year.

In November, it closed a $150 million series C funding round, backed by Mirabaud Lifestyle Impact and Innovation Fund in Switzerland, New York-based public-private hybrid investment firm D1 Capital Partners, JAM Fund, and other global investors and European luxury fashion families. Previous backers include Nexus Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Asked if the AI tool itself could be a product licensed to other players in the market, Dayama said, “We have not thought about it as of now.

“Our goal is to strengthen our system. We call ourselves the tech-powered betterment. We want to use technology to solve multiple problems, like deadstock, inventory management and logistical management. Then, later on, we will look into other problems. For example, understanding sizing in different geographies and taking those inputs in the design process,” added Dayama.

Models wearing Urbanic at the launch party at the SeaShell of Lisson Grove

Models wearing Urbanic at the launch party at the SeaShell of Lisson Grove.

Jacques Burga

He said the U.K. launch has been in the pipeline for a while, and now is the right time to do so because it understands the local audience and can offer garments in better quality to compete with British high-street players as well as local online fashion heavyweights.

To get the attention of the local fashion community, Urbanic will work with Wasson and stylist Julia Sarr-Jamois to select a set of products that might appeal to the high fashion-loving audience.

Dayama stressed that Urbanic is not looking to compete with marketplace platforms like Shein or Temu.

“We don’t want to have such an expansive catalogue. We want to be smart about it. Having a very technical background, people mistake us for an e-commerce platform, but that’s not our goal. What we want to be is the first fashion brand that is doing technology to this extent. We are here to solve a lot of the problems and help the whole industry march toward a proper direction,” he said.

Looking beyond the U.K. launch, which is the brand’s first European operation with a new warehouse in Liverpool, Urbanic is eyeing more market share in America, as well as the Middle East.

“We plan to have a very global approach. Over the last five years we have a very good learning and empowerment, which has come to us from the success we have received in those geographies, not only as a consumer base but also a lot of learning from the data and strengthening of the systems. We will be doing more in America and entering the Middle East. We will also be expanding more in Latin America as well,” said Dayama.

Overall, Urbanic will stay digital because of the technology it relies on, but Dayama said he would like to meet the community with more pop-ups and events in the future.

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