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Sustainable Fashion Accelerators

As the name suggests, accelerator programmes speed up the growth of existing companies, with the help of investments, connections, mentorship, education and/or sales. Smaller brands and startups are leading lights in sustainability and innovation, but often lack the finances to enter the market – therefore accelerator programmes are important catalysts for change in the fashion and textiles industry. Here we take a look at the awards, accelerators and other schemes giving startups the opportunity to collaborate with the world’s largest retailers and learn from industry leaders to help pave the way for a more circular future.

Global Change Award
Initiated in 2015 by the non-profit H&M Foundation, the Global Change Award aims to speed up the process of finding, supporting and scaling up early-stage innovations that can make the fashion industry circular. Dubbed the “Nobel Prize of fashion,” since its launch over 14,000 hopefuls have applied to get a slice of the one million euro grant, split between five winners. Now in its fifth year, the award has helped to accelerate the development of innovations in digital technology, waste recovery and biofabrics, amongst others. Previous winners have included Agraloop, Orange Fiber and Reverse Resources. Applications are open between August and October.

Fashion for Good

A convenor for change, the Fashion for Good Innovation Platform brings the entire fashion ecosystem together, offering the tools, resources and incentives to put sustainability, circularity and transparency into practice. The platform offers three programmes – the Fashion For Good-Plug and Play Accelerator, Scaling Programme and Good Fashion Fund – depending on business maturity, with a focus on sparking technologies and business models that have the greatest potential to transform the industry. Accelerator alumni include We aRe SpinDye, Good on You and AlgiKnit, while Spinnova, Mango Materials and ColorZen are Scaling Programme innovators. The Accelerator is run in partnership with Plug and Play: the world’s most active early-stage investor, and invites two batches of 10 to 15 startups a year to join the intensive three month programme.

German Sustain Concept
Launched at the start of 2019, the Fashion Council Germany-initiated German Sustain Concept is a two year mentorship programme supporting four emerging sustainable fashion labels based in Germany. In partnership with Bikini Berlin, BurdaStyle and Neonyt, the designers receive professional guidance in sourcing, distribution, marketing and business through a series of tailored coaching sessions and workshops. Selected by a jury of top industry representatives, Lara Krude, Oft, Phylyda and Working Title are the brands currently on the programme.

La Caserne
Situated in a renovated fire station in the heart of Paris, La Caserne provides a place for brands to engage and invest in a more responsible fashion future. Residents have access to a 2000 square metre sustainable fashion hub, complete with a fully-equipped photographic studio, fab lab sewing room, sustainable materials showroom and in-house boutique, with workshops, conferences and mentorship from industry leaders. Strategic and commercial support is offered through sales, presentation and events that are open to the public. Brands looking to embrace an eco-friendly business model can reap the benefits of what the site has to offer by applying to become a resident on the designers programme, or renting out an atelier.

Factory45

Over the past five years entrepreneurs from around the world have brought their sustainable brands to life with the help of the Factory45 online accelerator programme. Made up of five modules: sourcing, brand identity, pre-production, ecommerce marketing and preparing for launch, startups are given the resources and connections to source sustainable fabrics, find ethical manufacturers and raise capital to fund production. Products launched through the programme can then also be sold on the Market45 sustainable fashion marketplace. The half year course costs 500 USD per month, and unlike many accelerator programmes, the entrepreneurs retain full ownership. Applications will reopen in May 2020.

Kering Sustainable Innovation Award
Dedicated to accelerating sustainable innovation in the luxury and fashion sectors in China, the Kering Sustainable Innovation Award powered by Plug and Play identifies changemaking startups and technologies crafting tomorrow’s luxury in a responsible way. Launched at the end of 2018, the award focuses on alternative raw materials, circularity, better supply chains and retail models, with a top monetary prize of 100,000 EUR. Applications are now closed for this year but keep an eye out for the three winners who will be announced in October 2019.

Next instalment: New retail models

Written by Mairi Hare as part of a collaboration between Sourcebook GmbH and Texpertise Network.

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