Startups

Natural Fiber Welding Raises $13M In Ralph Lauren-Led Round

Major brand designer Ralph Lauren Corp. has led a $13 million round of funding in  Illinois-based Natural Fiber Welding (NFW).

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NFW develops technology that can use plants and natural fibers to make textiles and other durable items. The company aims to eliminate finite resources like petroleum from the supply chain, and plastic from the textile industry. 

The new round brings NFW’s total funding to $25 million, according to a company spokeswoman. Central Illinois Angels, Prairie Crest Capital and other prominent business and investment leaders from the Peoria, Illinois area also participated in the round.

“We have evolved and progressed our business for more than 50 years because we constantly push ourselves to think openly and differently about how to approach challenges,” Ralph Lauren VP and chief innovation officer David Lauren said in a statement. “Today, sustainability is an area where this is especially important, and investing with partners to scale innovative solutions is a key part of our sustainability strategy.”

Ralph Lauren is planning on increasing its use of “post-consumer cotton” as it works toward sourcing all of its key materials by 2025 and incorporating zero-waste principles across the company, according to the statement. The investment and partnership with NFW will also help Ralph Lauren lower its reliance on non-biodegradable synthetic materials.

Clothing manufacturers typically can’t use recycled cotton for new cotton clothing because the recycling process creates short fibers, according to the statement. NFW’s technology has been able to turn the short fibers into longer fibers to create cotton fiber yarn.

NFW, which was founded in 2015, is based in Peoria, Illinois.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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