A northern start-up powering up an advanced generation of data-driven luxe sportswear has secured £7.5M to take wearable health technology to new heights.
Prevayl, a cutting-edge sports performance brand is looking to empower consumers with their own biometric data, bringing together a premium, discreet aesthetic with powerful insight in a seamless user experience.
The investment has been made by Stonebridge – the digital-first consumer brand investment firm, headed by DTC entrepreneur James Cox (Simba Sleep, Mahabis, Torque Brands).
Founded by former personal trainer Adam Crofts (CEO), alongside serial entrepreneur David Newns (Chair), one of the UK’s youngest-ever FTSE executives with two exits already under his belt, in April 2019 and launching to consumers in Q4 of 2021.
The astute duo spotted a gap in the market for a connected clothing brand that would look considered, feel great and provide exemplary performance data.
Headquartered in Manchester, Crofts has built an elite team of experienced apparel designers, hardware developers, intellectual property experts and marketeers, whose CVs are furnished with stellar experience in both apparel and technology, from the like of GymShark, The Hut Group, VF Corporation, Lacoste, and Burberry, with others having designed for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Such is the complexity of the operation, the smart sportswear company has a full time, in-house IP department of five, to protect a growing number of patents that protect the unique innovation. Prevayl currently sits at #9 in the top ten UK patent filers across any industry.
Crafted from sophisticated performance materials, Prevayl has a comparable look, feel and handle to luxury sportswear brands. However, the start-up’s garments are elevated smart clothing that allow the wearer to connect with their body via invisible, sophisticated tech, to an APP which monitors performance and recovery to enhance the users experience.
At launch the fashion-forward brand will consist of three distinct elements; the sportswear, the hardware and the app, underscoring Croft’s vision to straddle the athleisure and tech industries.
“To secure £7.5m pre-revenue is testament to the whole team.” said CEO, Adam Crofts.
“Everyone is on the same page – the drive and ambition is palpable. Creating a global community and owning the connected clothing market hinges on cultivating genuine buzz and talkability.”
“Which ultimately relies on creating a product that not only knocks others out of the park, but also on the right infrastructure to scale at pace.”
“Partnering with Stonebridge has undoubtedly been a leg up for the business. It’s providing us access to the Torque Brands eCommerce platform, which will accelerate our ability to scale, whilst offering our community a slick user experience – helping us fulfill our global ambitions.”
“We are all really focused on igniting a new era of innovation that not only gets the blood flowing and puts the heartbeat back into the region’s rich textile heritage, but puts Prevayl on the map worldwide.”
The new funding will be used to kit out state-of-the-art laboratories and fitness areas with data testing facilities, new hires, garment design, continued innovation and IP creation and developing an infrastructure that will facilitate growth.
The pandemic has proved to be a great stimulus for certain sectors in health and leisure: sales of sportswear, athleisure, wearable tech and exercise bikes are up, along with increasing numbers of runners and cyclists pounding the pavements. In July 2020, NHS England reported a 92% increase in downloads of its free Couch to 5k app from 448,000 to 858,000 year-on-year.
Looking to the future, the UK sportswear market is in great shape, with Global Data showing revenues are expected to grow 20.9% by 2023 to reach £6.7 billion, and with 61% of current sportswear shoppers exercising multiple times per week.
Prevayl has been engineered to comfortably outpace the competition on accuracy; third party testing is provided by the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. It has also been tested on fighter pilots.
Heart rate, pace and training zone are the standard elements provided by alternative devices on the market, by contrast, Prevayl can offer meticulous insight and analysis of the body from comprehensive ECG (electrocardiogram) data that identifies heart rate and variability including; heart rate zone and recovery, orthostatic heart rate, cardio age, heart function, atrial fibrillation, and ectopic heart beat.
Where the intelligent athleisure brand really diverges from the competition is with its level of breathing insight. It measures the breathing state, time and type (thoracic/diaphragmatic), ventilatory threshold and minute volume, so it can recognise dysfunctional breathing and stress levels.
In addition, it measures core temperature, energy expenditure and hydration. Finally, it looks at IMU (inertial measurement unit) so it can understand acceleration, body position and activity classification between walking, running, cycling, HIIT, yoga and more.
Managing Partner at Stonebridge, James Cox said: “What the company has created over the last 24 months is quite amazing and sits right in the sweet spot of what we believe consumers want. The founders are world class and well on the way to disrupting another large global market and were delighted that we can be part of that journey with them. Prevayl is the perfect example of the type of company which we love to back.”
Pitched toward a fashion conscious individual, the focus for Prevayl’s launch collection will involve three core principles; adaptability, inclusivity and minimalism. Three key items will form the basis of the collection; a tank top, a crop top and a T-shirt retailing around £90.
Each Prevayl design will be available in stealthy matte black with bonded seams to reduce abrasion and discreet branding.
As is always the case with good design, the simplicity of the outward appearance belies a complex internal mechanism. The sensors are connected by invisible stainless steel threads, surrounded by a yarn that expands with heat to keep them close to the body. This is held in an internal panel that sits under the bra in the women’s crop top and around the chest in the men’s tank top, to pick up the ECG from the heartbeat and the breathing rate from the lungs.
Made in the UK, the hardware is the smallest on the market. The lightweight, wireless device that slots neatly and discreetly inside the garment. A tiny LED light alerts the user to the battery life, which lasts for up to 24 hours.