Belfast’s Responsible and Haru unite to fashion e-commerce platform

14 Mar 2023

Responsible founder and CEO Mark Dowds. Image: Responsible

The two Belfast-based companies will combine their technologies to create a single platform where fashion and footwear items are bought, renewed and resold, boosting the second-hand apparel market.

Fashion-tech start-up Responsible has acquired re-commerce provider Haru to create a circular fashion platform.

The two Belfast-based companies will combine their technology to create a single platform where fashion and footwear items are bought, renewed and resold, boosting the second-hand apparel market

Founded in 2021, Responsible aims to promote sustainability in fashion by incentivising brands and consumers to buy, sell and trade clothes.

The company has created Buy Back technology, which involves partnering with fashion brands directly to include them in the resale of used clothes and facilitate consumers’ return processes.

Responsible founder and CEO Mark Dowds said the acquisition of Haru is a “significant milestone” for the company as it moves to “push the boundaries of circularity in the fashion industry”.

“By combining our respective technologies and expertise, we further increase the efficiencies and profitability required to grow the adoption of circular business models by brands and drive consumer behaviour change at scale,” Dowds said.

The start-up received a boost at the start of 2022 when it raised $6.6m in seed funding to develop its re-commerce finance platform. The following month, Responsible invested more than £1.2m into growing its operations and staff.

Haru – or help and reuse – provides charities a platform to sell and process orders online to help boost their revenues without the large investment that e-commerce typically requires. It is also used by brands to accept and re-sell goods while providing consumers with greater access to second-hand shopping.

The company raised £450,000 in 2021, with support from Invest Northern Ireland, Co Fund NI and Halo Business Angel Network’s Ulster network.

Responsible plans to strengthen its brand and customer-facing apps with Haru’s operational, digitisation and pricing algorithms, to support the development of profitable circular trading programmes.

Haru CEO Jacques Hill said the company launched in 2018 to support charity shops in Ireland and the UK and has helped more than 550 of these shops generate revenue “where there was little margin”.

“We’re thrilled to join Responsible and bring our complementary technologies and expertise to the table,” Hill said. “With the integration of our platforms, we’re excited to unlock even greater value for our customers, retailers and staff as we build a better future for fashion.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic