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The most innovative style companies of 2022

How companies like Farfetch, Figs, and Hoka—as well as designers like Tracy Reese and Thebe Magugu—are moving the needle for the fashion industry.

The most innovative style companies of 2022

Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative beauty, retail, and wellness companies.

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There was a time when style was purely about aesthetics, and good taste was determined by powerful gatekeepers like luxury houses and high-end designers. Not anymore. Today, style is about products that are carefully designed to improve our lives and align with our values.

Several brands stood out this past year for creating gorgeous clothes that were bolstered by a larger mission. Farfetch, the luxury marketplace that partners with small boutiques around the globe, poured its profits into sustainability initiatives, including acquiring the resale technology company Luxclusif to power its own secondhand business, Second Life, and launching an in-house eco-friendly label, There Was One, which creates durable basics. Designer Tracy Reese took the radical step of moving her headquarters from New York to Detroit as part of her mission to transform the city into a hub of ethical fashion manufacturing. Johannesburg-based designer Thebe Magugu used his collections to tell stories about politics and history; for his 2021 collection, he interviewed South African women who worked as spies during apartheid, creating outfits that spoke to issues of gender and colonialism.

Some brands focused on creatively responding to consumers’ unmet needs. Myya, for instance, created a luxurious lingerie shopping experience for breast cancer patients, who historically have been forced to buy prosthetics and specialized bras at medical supply stores. Figs designed tasteful and comfortable scrubs for medical professionals, cultivating a loyal following of 1.7 million customers who appreciate the care that has gone into these outfits. Denim brand Good American recognized that women’s bodies fluctuate in size 31 times over the course of their lives, forcing them to buy new clothes. The brand launched its Always Fits jeans and swimwear collections, which are designed to span four sizes, ensuring they look flattering even as customers’ bodies change. And sneaker brand Hoka has paid close attention to runners’ needs, developing new foams and carbon-fiber plates that give them extra propulsion, without sacrificing comfort.

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1. Farfetch

For using data to create wardrobe staples customers will wear for years

This luxury marketplace, which partners with small boutiques around the world, has troves of data about what consumers are looking for. It determined that since the start of the pandemic, people have been investing in long-lasting pieces, preferably made sustainably. Farfetch used this insight to launch a new brand: the private label womenswear line called There Was One. Rather than playing into trends, the line focuses on creating closet staples, such as $95 organic cotton T-shirts and $1,400 biker jackets made from traceable leather, all delivered in recyclable and compostable packaging. Farfetch ended 2021 by acquiring the resale technology company Luxclusif in a bid to build out its own resale service, Second Life, which is currently focused on handbags. The luxury site is also in talks with Richemont to provide white label e-commerce solutions for that company’s brands, while taking a minority stake in Yoox Net-a-Porter Group—a deal that would solidify Farfetch’s position as the leading luxury e-tailer. The company took in $2.3 billion in 2021 revenue, up 35% from 2020.

Farfetch is No. 19 on this year’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.

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2. Figs

For building a profitable public company by selling tastefully designed scrubs

Until Figs came along, there had been little care or innovation devoted to the humble scrubs, garments that healthcare workers wear every single day. But by spending time creating medical workwear that is stylish, comfortable, and well-designed, Figs has created a loyal following of 1.7 million customers, up from 1.1 million a year ago. In March 2021, it had a successful IPO, and its financials revealed a company that is profitable, making it a rarity among direct-to-consumer startups. Figs acquires new customers primarily through word of mouth, spending less than 15% of its revenues on marketing, and customers often come back to replenish their scrubs, spending an average of $102 an order. While the brand’s bread-and-butter still comes from uniforms that customers need year-round (which means it doesn’t have to deal with excess inventory or the supply chain issues that result from chasing trends), the uniform marker is expanding into athleisure styles, designed to be worn off-duty, signaling that there’s lots of room for this company to grow.

3. The Yes

For reimagining the online shopping experience for designer fashion

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The process of buying clothes online hasn’t changed much over the last 20 years. Consumers are expected to scan through endless rows of inventory to find a product that might interest them. The Yes radically reimagines e-commerce with an app that presents users with entire outfits from various brands tailored to their taste, budget, and size. The platform introduces discovery of the shopping experience, replicating the kind of personalized recommendations that consumers might get at a high-end boutique or department store. Since launching in mid-2020, the app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, and its annual run rate for 2021 was more than $20 million, with revenue growing at a rate of 35% every month.

4. Natural Fiber Welding

For creating renewable, biodegradable alternatives to synthetic fibers

Of all the clothes produced by the fashion industry, 72% use synthetic fibers, which are made from petrochemicals and do not biodegrade. Manufacturing these fibers is highly carbon-intensive—and at the end of their life, these materials break into tiny particles of microplastic that end up in the food chain, poisoning humans and animals. Natural Fiber Welding has developed two product families: recycled thread called Clarus and leather-like material called Mirum. By tweaking the formulations and manufacturing techniques, NFW can create foams and materials that have the same chemical structure and features of synthetic fibers—offering the stretch and moisture-wicking properties that consumers enjoy—but are made from plants and are fully biodegradable. Allbirds invested $2 million in February of 2021, and BMW’s venture arm invested as part of the company’s $15 million Series A in July. Last year, NFW focused on scaling up its manufacturing facilities so it could begin churning out its materials. It built a new 110,000-foot production facility in Peoria, Illinois. By the middle of 2022, NFW will be able to make about 10,000 square meters of Mirum and multiple metric tons of Clarus. Ralph Lauren (which invested in NFW’s $15 million Series A round in 2020) featured faux-leather patches made from Mirum in its Team USA uniforms for the Tokyo summer Olympics and has already bought metric tons of Clarus, which it will begin using in garments in 2022.

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5. Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese

For transforming Detroit into a fashion manufacturing hub

Tracy Reese, who has been a fixture of America’s fashion scene for two decades, is helping turn her hometown of Detroit into the country’s next fashion capital. In 2019, she left her New York City headquarters for downtown Detroit, launching a new apparel brand called Hope for Flowers, a responsibly designed and produced collection, sold on her website and at Anthropologie stores. Her goal is to support the city’s growing apparel manufacturing by designing and making her collections locally. In 2021, she built an in-house design studio, sample room, and dedicated sewing workshop, staffed with dressmakers, printmakers, and artisans who are experts in sewing embellishments. She expects to manufacture 100% of her collection in Michigan within the next five years.

6. Hoka

For putting a literal spring in runners’ steps

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Amid the increasingly crowded market for technically advanced running shoes, Hoka is outpacing its competitors. The 13-year-old brand, which is owned by Deckers Brands (parent company of UGG and Teva, as well), had a breakout year in 2021. In February, Deckers reported that Hoka’s sales had grown 30% year-over-year for the most recent quarter (fiscal Q3 2022), from $142 million to $185 million; in the previous quarter, Hoka’s net sales grew 47% year-over-year, from $143 million to $210 million. For fiscal year 2021 (which ended March 31, 2021), net sales increased 62.0% to $571.2 million. What’s driving this growth is Hoka’s commitment to delivering innovations that keep athletes—amateurs and pros alike—running faster and more comfortably. Hoka is known for developing a new kind of EVA foam that’s extra soft and lightweight, and molded into a rocker shape that helps propel runners forward. Last year, Hoka built on this EVA foam base by embedding its popular Bondi shoe with a stiff, carbon-​fiber plate that puts a literal spring in runners’ steps. Called the Bondi X, the shoe was well-reviewed by leading running publications for delivering the pro-grade advantages of a carbon-fiber plate without sacrificing Hoka’s renowned ultra-cushiony comfort. Hoka closed out the year by imbuing a trail runner shoe, the Tecton X, with a pair of carbon-fiber plates that are aimed at giving wearers extra propulsion with the added stability that off-piste runners require. (Hoka also improved on its popular Rincon and Clifton models of shoes in 2021.) As Hoka expands globally, it’s moving beyond its traditional base of running-shoe retailers to create its own stores. It recently opened pop-ins in New York and Los Angeles, featuring 3D foot-scanning technology and smart lockers, as well as the brand’s first owned and operated stores in China. All of these stores also feature the brand’s growing apparel line, which will be a focus for Hoka in the coming months.

7. Myya

For giving breast cancer patients a luxurious lingerie experience

13% of American women will get breast cancer, which often requires them to get prosthetics and special bras. Until now, these products were mostly sold at clinical medical supply stores. In October 2021, entrepreneur Jasmine Jones launched Myya, a brand that completely rethinks this experience by offering women beautiful, well-designed bras and a fitting experience inspired by high-end Parisian lingerie stores, which can take place either in the brand’s Washington, D.C.-based shop or online with the help of an expert. Importantly, Myya takes care of all the insurance paperwork and ensures that customers are taking advantage of all the benefits afforded them by their health insurance companies.

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8. Good American

For reimagining sizing

Since launching in 2016, Good American has been a leader in body inclusivity. One of the insights it has gleaned from its customers is that women’s bodies fluctuate in size 31 times over the course of their lives, from month to month, and year to year. As a result, their body-hugging clothes don’t always fit. In late 2020, the company piloted its Always Fits collection, which reimagined sizing by offering jeans in flattering fits that work across size ranges. (The jeans come in size 0-4, 6-12, 14-18, etc.) In other words, the same pair of jeans will fit, whether your body happens to be a size 6 or 12. The secret to the fabric has to do with how it is woven: The jeans are made from 90% cotton and 10% lycra and polyester, which are interlaced so that the material can expand by 100%, while most denim on the market can expand only 50%. The jeans are designed to mold to your body, but will return to their original shape after they’re washed, so they aren’t baggy and misshapen. The collection sold out in less than two weeks. In 2021, the company expanded the line across eight denim styles and launched an Always Fits swim line. It also launched shoes, which serves the needs of women with diverse body types by offering adjustable ankle straps and boots with extended calf sizing. Thanks to these new innovations, the brand’s revenue grew 80% between 2020 and 2021.

9. Thebe Magugu

For designing clothes that speak to the moment

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South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu founded his eponymous label in Johannesburg in 2016, quickly making a name for himself by using his work to comment on politics and history. In 2020, he reached global audiences through the launch of his e-commerce site, which includes a section (dubbed Faculty Press) devoted to articles on contemporary South African culture. In 2021, in the midst of social unrest and a pandemic that hit his country hard, Magugu created collections that spoke to issues of gender, colonialism, and poverty. For his spring/summer 2021 collection, “Counter Intelligence,” he interviewed South African women who worked as spies during apartheid, illustrating their ability to disguise themselves through pieces ranging from tailored militaristic outfits to feminine free-form dresses. His spring/summer 2022 menswear collection, “Doublethink,” explores how corruption widens the inequality gap, using cowboy-like silhouettes to explore the ideas of masculinity and the contrast between the black hat bandits and the white hat heroes.

10. 100 Thieves

For scoring with its esports-inspired apparel and accessories

Founded by former Call of Duty gamer Matt Haag, the esports organization 100 Thieves has a roster of top players who compete in tournaments for League of Legends, Fortnite, Valorant, and Call of Duty, among other titles. It also has signed more than a dozen gaming influencers, who produce content on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and elsewhere. (The company has more than 1 million followers on both Instagram and YouTube, and broke 100 million lifetime views on YouTube this year; content viewership was up 300% in 2021.) But it’s the company’s push into apparel that’s most intriguing, bringing in millions of dollars for the group. 100 Thieves’s limited-edition merch drops—logo-filled hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, fleece pants, etc., often produced in collaboration with gaming titles—have grown threefold this year, routinely breaking $1 million in sales, often within 10 minutes. Even Gucci is getting in on the action: Over the summer, the fashion brand partnered with 100 Thieves for a limited-edition backpack ($2,500). Seeing the success of its Supreme-like clothing drops, 100 Thieves launched a permanent apparel collection, Foundations, in July, which reportedly took in $2.5 million within its first month. 100 Thieves also recently acquired the high-end gaming keyboard maker Higround, known for limited-edition drops, adding accessories to its merch assortment.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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