Founded in 2015, Natural Fiber Welding makes durable and sustainable fashion materials, without using plastics, for brands like Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, Allbirds, and Patagonia.
Peoria-based startup, Natural Fiber Welding, Inc., raised $85 million in Series B funding to scale production of high-performance, all-natural, circular materials products coming to market with a wide array of global brand partners. The funding round was led by New York-based Evolution VC Partners with participation by Tattarang, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, Collaborative Fund, AiiM Partners, Engine No.1, Raga Partners, Tidal Impact, Scrum Ventures, and Gaingels. Returning investors include BMW i Ventures, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Advantage Capital, and Central Illinois Angels.
Founded in 2015, NFW is a material innovation company providing the global footwear, fashion, accessories, and automotive industries with new material platforms to create low carbon, all natural, bio-neutral products. NFW engineers and manufactures: CLARUS®, a family of high-performance, all-natural textiles; and MIRUM®, the only next-generation, zero-plastic complement to leather. NFW’s global customer base includes leading brands who are aiming to provide their consumers with beautiful, high-performance petrochemical-free materials.
NFW is using the Series B funding to continue scaling the CLARUS® and MIRUM® materials platforms in order to meet global demand. The Peoria-based company is also extending its product offerings to molded composite materials to enable and encourage global brand partners to design unprecedented, comprehensively circular products.
“We envision a world that doesn’t rely on plastic, where abundant natural materials enable people and the planet to thrive together,” said Luke Haverhals, CEO and founder of Natural Fiber Welding. “We’re here to leave the world better than we found it and we look forward to working with our brand partners to build a comprehensively circular coalition for the planet.”
MIRUM® is a categorically unique, all-natural material engineered for the footwear, fashion, automotive, and accessories markets. MIRUM®’s customizability means it can look like anything from leather to carbon fiber, making it a high-performance solution for designers and brands looking to shrink their footprint and expand their creative palettes. Global brands including Alexander McQueen (MCQ), Pangaia, Bellroy, H&M, and Camper have adopted MIRUM® and are in market.
CLARUS® is a family of performance fabrics made from recycled and/or virgin natural fibers, which do not shed toxic microplastics. Imbuing natural fibers with new levels of performance closes critical gaps in the circular economy for the textile industry. NFW manufactures CLARUS® materials with closed-loop green chemistry that enables new efficiencies while delivering unrivaled performance. This year, Ralph Lauren used the platform to launch a first-to-market product innovation, the RLX CLARUS® Polo Shirt, exclusively at the 2022 Australian Open Tennis Tournament. Chaco, a Wolverine Worldwide brand, is in market with recycled cotton CLARUS® shoe uppers that displace synthetic uppers.
“The world has become allergic to plastics, which have permeated every aspect of our lives, and we need to reverse this trend,” said Gregg Smith, founder of Evolution VC Partners. “NFW has proven product-market fit with disruptive high-performance, all-natural materials. The next generation of consumers will pressure every industry—from automotive to apparel and furniture—to eliminate petrochemical usage, and NFW’s advanced materials solve those problems.”
NFW’s transformational work received two major awards in recent weeks. Fast Company listed NFW as a World’s Most Innovative Company, and NFW won Conservation X Labs’ Microfiber Innovation Challenge for their ability to reduce and prevent microfiber pollution.