Manrags seeking to raise $3 million through equity crowdfunding
Subscription sock brand Manrags has kicked off an equity crowdfunding campaign with Birchal in a bid to raise $3 million from everyday Australians.
The capital will be used to grow the brand’s current offering of men’s, women’s and kids socks, including a new range of socks made out of recycled cotton, as well as invest in machinery to allow it to start recycling textiles locally.
“We’ve gone out and said we want to raise capital to become the authority in textile recycling in this country, and the response has been overwhelming so far,” Michael Elias told Internet Retailing.
Elias started Manrags four years ago with his wife Tina Elias. Today, the brand sells to customers in 70 countries around the world and is closing in on $1 million in annual revenue.
“It was a hobby that turned into something great,” he said.
Recently, Manrags has evolved from a standard subscription-based online retailer to an outspoken proponent of the circular economy.
Last year, after conducting a wardrobe cleanout, Elias learned that it wasn’t possible to donate used socks in Australia for hygiene reasons, and there wasn’t an easy way to recycle them. Most consumers had no choice but to put their old socks in the bin.
Elias realised that Manrags was contributing to the problem and decided to do something about it.
In September 2019, he started what he believes is the world’s first sock recycling program. Consumers can purchase a satchel on the Manrags website for $15, fill it with their old socks and send it to the company in exchange for a $15 voucher.
Manrags sorts through the donations, separates out any socks suitable for reuse via charity partners and sends the rest to be recycled through its partner Textile Recyclers Australia.
In April, the company expanded this program to include up to 10kg of any clothing, linens and shoes. Elias said the program has already diverted over 50,000kgs of textile from landfill he has been inundated with requests for partnerships.
“Corporations that want to recycle their uniforms with us…schools. We’re working with fashion designers in Australia who are conscious about their offcuts and don’t want to see that go into landfill,” he said.
One of these new partners is the Australian designer fashion brand Kitx, which is taking every piece of denim Manrags receives that isn’t suitable for reuse and launching a line of upcycled denim.
“There are solutions and a lot of people all over the world working on this [textile waste problem],” he said.
Now, that includes Manrags.
“We put our hand up and said we’ll take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of our product. And why would we stop at our products? Why not do it for everyone’s products?”
Elias believes there is a huge opportunity in textile recycling, and he would like to bring more of it onshore. The brand’s recycling partner currently works with one of the oldest textile recyclers in India to break down donated items into yarn or other products, such as insulation and underlay.
“People around the world are investing in solutions to reduce the impact of textiles in landfill, and also to produce other materials and create true circularity. We’re not going down this linear model of take, make and dispose. The focus globally is much greater on how to reduce the dispose part, the recycling side,” Elias said.
It’s also apparent that customers want this, too.
According to Elias, the brand’s customer numbers grew by 30,000, over 300 per cent over the last seven months. Revenue has increased by 200 per cent in the same period.
“People want a solution for textile waste, because nothing exists,” he said.