The Top Five Startups from New York Fashion Tech Lab 2018

This summer, New York Fashion Tech Lab (NYFTL) graduated its fifth annual cohort of nine women-led companies. Co-founded and produced by non-profit venture catalyst Springboard Enterprises, NYFTL unites cutting-edge startups with established retail companies to facilitate the conversations that will steer the future of fashion.

The program is sponsored by leading fashion companies such as Bloomingdale's, LVMH, Macy's and Tory Burch, who collectively select each year's cohort of startups. NYFTL Managing Director Jackie Trebilcock says NYFTL's retail partners are looking for B2B startups with solutions that can help solve a problem.

"The companies get to work with retailers and brands for twelve weeks, during which we want to foster collaboration and open innovation," says Trebilcock. "Some companies use NYFTL as an opportunity to get in front of more retailers and brands, and others use it as a jumping-off point into the fashion industry."

Here are five of the most promising companies from FTL’s 2018 cohort that are using innovative technologies to reshape the fashion industry:


Shirley Chen founded Narrativ in 2015 with the aim of building a better internet for shoppers. Articles published by editorial websites that dominate the first page of a Google search, according to Chen, generate three times the sales revenue of paid search traffic. “Amazon receives 650 million shoppers each month as a result of publisher content, which is 10 times more than arrive through paid search,” says Chen. “We want to democratize this pipeline.”

Through Narrativ’s SmartLink technology, a retailer can bid on hyperlinks featured in publishers’ articles to direct traffic to its website. Chen says this allows publishers to triple their revenue compared to a traditional affiliate link system, as exemplified by New York Magazine, who has seen the value of content clicks lift by 250% thanks to Narrativ. Retailers who purchase links drive more traffic and sales to their sites, and customers are never faced with a link to an out-of-stock product. Narrativ’s model of fixing erroneous links means retailers who don’t have an item in stock are excluded from bidding.

Narrativ takes a cut of its cost-per-click revenue model, and the company has been profitable for nearly a year. Chen reports that Narrativ generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year for its clients, and delivered a record $25 million in revenue last month. “There is a $25 billion retail opportunity in commerce content, every retailer and brand, big or small, should be able to access and drive sales from content produced by top publishers.”