Material Exchange Acquires Olah Inc. Agency
Material Exchange, the fast-growing international virtual marketplace, announced it has acquired the agency division of Olah Inc., a New York–based firm focused on the denim and sportswear industries. The acquisition expands Material Exchange’s digital platform beyond global digital sourcing into expert services, especially in regard to sustainability.
Olah Inc. started as a Canadian textile agency that has grown into a multifaceted consultancy. The company helps companies develop their fibers, textiles and apparel sales in North America. It is also the parent company of the Kingpins show, a denim-industry trade show that serves as an important resource to the community.
Olah has also created the Transformers Foundation, a nonprofit that addresses and makes changes in the denim supply chain, focusing on social responsibility, sustainable cotton, responsible chemical management and consumer education.
Material Exchange initially met the Olah team during the COVID-19 pandemic through a United States Fashion Industry Association webinar and began working together in July 2020. As trade shows and other events were hosted online to help combat the spread of the virus, Material Exchange helped launch the online materials database, Kingpins Exchange, to bridge the gap.
Kingpins Exchange showcases Olah’s denim collections, offering a digital sourcing marketplace for buyers to efficiently and sustainably find the materials they need. The Olah team has been utilizing the Kingpins Exchange for over a year and has found it extremely useful in helping navigate the denim industry.
Over time, the partnership continued to grow and developed into a close cooperation with both companies realizing it would be mutually beneficial to merge, according to Jessica Sundstrom, CMO and CRO for Material Exchange.
“Material Exchange has spent the last couple of years developing and refining our revolutionary digital platform so that materials suppliers and buyers could easily connect on a global scale. With Material Exchange recently launching the Expert Services branch of our offerings, Olah Inc.’s in-depth knowledge becomes critical in providing the quality we pride ourselves on. Now, buyers will have support from a broad range of material experts, leveraging the industry expertise of these experts to find the materials they need,” Sundstrom explained. “Conversely, Olah Inc. will be able to take advantage of the powerful technology behind the Material Exchange platform, enhancing their human experience to the benefit of anyone using the platform.”
As part of the acquisition, Andrew Olah, chief executive officer of Olah Inc., will join the Material Exchange advisory board. Olah Inc.’s Kingpins and Kingpins24 shows along with the Transformers Foundation will operate separately from Material Exchange.
The acquisition helps both Material Exchange and Olah Inc. reach sustainability goals they set for themselves while also increasing the potential of what could be accomplished by working together.
“Traditionally, materials sourcing has been an expensive, complicated process involving long timelines, physical swatch sending and international travel. The digitalization of the industry is incredibly important and necessary in order to move the industry forward sustainably. The acquisition further cements our efforts to sustainably transform the industry in that it will improve the digital experience on both the buyer and supplier side of the process as well as provide continuing support in making these valuable connections,” Sundstrom said.
Material Exchange recently launched its digital Marketplace as a next-gen sourcing platform for the footwear and apparel industry. Suppliers and brands will be able to use the materials management system to maintain a library of their materials, documents, certificates, communication and showrooms.
The Marketplace provides streamlined data for transparency, increased efficiency for reduced cost and less waste for sustainability and has been proven useful through months of beta testing. One of the features uses smart-search functionality to help brands and buyers find materials that meet their specific needs for sustainability and quality, regardless of the supplier’s location. It also includes several curated exchanges, which makes it even easier for brands to find material types. Kingpins Exchange is one of the included exchanges.
Material Exchange continues to grow with more buyers, suppliers and materials being available on the platform. The company believes the faster digitalization in the industry happens, the faster waste can be reduced across the board and the better the go-to market potential is increased.