Fast Company | 10.08.18

Navigate the Allbirds and Caspers of the world with this list of digital-first brands

Fast Company

October 8, 2018

If you’re trying to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of digitally native consumer brands–think: the Warby Parkers and Everlanes of the world–you’ll be interested in The Lead, a startup that helps you navigate the world of startups. The endeavor was cofounded by Timo Weiland, a former banker and fashion designer, and Noah Gellman, who has himself worked at a range of startups.

The Lead has just released its inaugural list of the top 50 direct-to-consumer, digitally native, vertical brands on the market today. Awais Khan, who heads the research department at The Lead, studied hundreds of companies to better understand their business and product innovation process, commercialization, market opportunities, competition, and investor value creation. To arrive at the final list, The Lead interviewed the founders and CEOs of the companies.

The list contains many of the usual suspects, like Allbirds, Casper, and Brooklinen, but also brands you may be less familiar with, like True Botanicals and Zenni Optical. And The Lead helps to explain why some brands have grown quickly, while others have evolved more slowly. “These 50 companies, taken together, are a bellwether and leading indicator of the fashion and retail industry’s future,” the report explains.

In addition to this list, The Lead also produces a list of the top 100 enterprise startups that provide the technology on which many of these consumer brands run, as well as a list of the top 25 fashion and retail executives embracing innovation. The Lead also hosts a range of events that bring together leaders from the fashion and retail industries with tech leaders. Their next event, The Lead Summit, will take place later this month in Brooklyn, New York, and will honor the 50 companies on this year’s list.