FCTRY LAb is a BIPOC-led, LA-based footwear prototyping lab and venture studio that aims to democratize sneaker production and open-source innovation for emerging and established designers and brands of all sizes. FCTRY LAb’s fundraiser for their launch on December 15th is one of 2022’s largest investments in a Black Founder.
The independent innovation studio was founded by the former head of Yeezy-Adidas Innovation Lab, Omar Bailey, and the former Wall Street and private equity executive, Abhishek Som. The studio is based out of the U.S. to avoid supply chain disruptions and delays. This reduces product development time to 1-3 months, which would otherwise fall at 8-12 months.
Much like the eyewear industry that borders monopolization, large sneaker corporations often hold on to an overwhelming majority of profits fueled by the creative vigor harnessed by minority designers, influencers, and athletes. FCTRY LAb is working to change this reality by pushing for equity and transformative techniques that overthrow the mechanisms that made this truly possible in the first place.
The original $6 million subdivision included various venture capital firms, top professional athletes, and a myriad of pedigreed angel investors. The Investors include the Co-Founder of Tinder (via Time Zero Capital), the Co-Founder of WeWork, the West Coast Head of Warburg Pincus, and a consortium of NBA & NFL stars via Chicago-based Aurelien Capital.
Venture capital investment was led by the LA-based, Pay-Pal-backed Slauson & Co, with additional investment from Relay Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures (the private investment arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group), Level One Fund & Fog City Capital, among others.
Omar Bailey helped transition the gap from trailblazing conceptual design into functionally wearable footwear during the $1 Billion revenue growth of Yeezy-Adidas. Bailey has developed footwear for entertainers and athletes such as Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Karim Benzema. With over twenty years of experience, he has worked alongside culturally unique brands like Supreme, New Balance, K-Swiss & Timberland.