Belfast-based Responsible raises €5.8 million to power a circular future for the fashion industry

Responsible, a startup with Belfast roots and founded in 2021, has just raised €5.8 million for its pioneering embedded finance platform for the fashion industry. 

The funding was led by Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and Techstart Ventures, participants include InPost founder Rafał Brzoska and Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar. 

With the vision to make meaningful change in the fashion industry, the young startup has been developed to fight for a circular future. Founded in 2021 by Mark Dowds and Mitch Doust, Responsible endeavours to solve fashion’s sustainability problem with an innovative take on ‘recommerce’ that will open ​​the category to end-customers and brands alike.

Responsible has developed a technology solution called ‘Buy Back’ that can be easily integrated into a brand’s eCommerce and physical stores. The technology is integrated at the point of purchase to inform shoppers of the residual value of the item they are about to buy. The shopper is free to wear the garment and return the product at any point in the future in exchange for credit at the Buy Back price stated at purchase.

The plugin is now available within the Shopify ecosystem, and will soon support other ecommerce platforms. The solution is paving the way for brands to keep products in circulation as well as providing the infrastructure and operational capability to ensure this remains a seamless and low-touch way for brands to embrace a circular future.

“The fashion industry manufactures billions of items every year and only 5-7% of these clothes are sold for a second time,” said Mark Dowds, Founder and CEO, Responsible, “We are enabling brands to not only become accountable for everything they produce, but also to financially benefit from a more circular and sustainable business model. Data sources like Black Book and Glass’s Guide transformed the automotive industry, we plan to do the same in fashion.”

In the move to disrupt the fashion industry with pioneering tech, the startup has already launched with several partners, including design-led brands RÆBURN and côte&ciel, alongside pioneering Denim brands, Kuyichi and Kings Of Indigo. Responsible’s commitment to a holistic combination of quality and sustainability is proving popular amongst a variety of brands. 

Currently operating in the UK from Belfast and London offices, Responsible will use the new funding to expand its reach across Europe, establishing an EU presence early this year.