eBay UK and the British Fashion Council announced the six winners of the first Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, awarding £100,000 in grants to help grow small businesses with sustainable fashion solutions.
What you need to know: The six winning businesses, all of which provide circular fashion solutions, will receive mentoring from industry leaders and a £15,000 grant to accelerate their growth. And an overall winner will soon be announced, receiving an additional £10,000 grant.
The six winning businesses are:
- By Rotation – the world’s first social network for fashion lovers to rent and lend quality items to each other. It already has over 500,000 downloads in the UK and will soon expand to the US.
- Circular Textiles Foundation– links clothing design, takeback and recycling technologies using QR technology and certification systems. This includes a credible circularity mark for retailers, recognizing clothing designed to be recycled into a fiber.
- The Seam – an on-demand tailoring service making clothing alterations and repairs accessible through tech. It has already completed 10,000 repairs and provides white-labeled care and repair platforms to fashion retailers, enabling brands to encourage tailoring over returns and extend the life of what they produce.
- SAGES– innovator of natural dyes made from food waste, providing a commercial alternative to harmful synthetic dyes. SAGES focuses on circularity at all stages of the dyeing process with the aim to create a fully sustainable end-to-end product.
- Pip and Henry– designer of unique sustainable shoes for kids, made with innovative recycled and bio-materials. It also provides recycling solutions and eco-educational content and stories for kids.
- Circular Inc. Ltd– provides circular design and sustainable manufacturing to accompany radio frequency identification (RFID)-assisted commercial repair and upcycling of clothing.
Solutions of the winners include:
- A shoe that grows with a growing child’s foot and can be cleanly disassembled into component parts for recycling (Pip and Henry).
- Natural dyes made from food waste, help reduce the reliance on synthetic dyes – which are responsible for 80% of the emissions caused by the fashion industry (SAGES).
- A certified QR code system allowing consumers to interact with a garment, the brand and play a part in its circular journey (Circular Textiles Foundation).
Why it matters: eBay UK is one of the leading online resale marketplaces for second-hand fashion and is supporting the winners of the Fund to grow and thrive like its existing small business community.
Winners will participate in a six-week mentoring program featuring one-on-one sessions with business leaders from eBay and other organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as well as networking opportunities, followed by financial support.
The Fund comes at a critical moment for circular fashion, as appetite for second-hand items continues to grow, with eBay UK selling two pre-loved fashion items every second.
Growth in the sector has been booming since eBay partnered with the reality TV show Love Island in the summer.
The Fund hopes to bring new technology and services to the market, helping people think and shop differently, focusing on areas such as customer experience, circular inventory and services, and social commerce.
Environmental charity, Hubbub is providing support to the fund in an advisory role, drawing on its experience in delivering high-profile grant funds.
What they said: “We are honored to be recognized by eBay and the British Fashion Council as champions of circular fashion. Investing in circular practices is absolutely crucial for the transition we need to make and there is no time to lose.
“We all have our part to play in creating a positive future for the industry and this is an important step towards our shared goal of a circular economy for fashion,” commented Tim Cross, Founder of Circular Textiles Foundation.
“Circularity is the future of fashion, and over recent years start-ups and small businesses have been at the forefront of solutions to make it a reality.
“The winners of the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund epitomize this, and we hope that the mentoring and grant will help scale these promising businesses in size and reach, and in turn make sustainable fashion practices more accessible to more people,” added Lucy Peacock, Head of Pre-loved, eBay UK.
As part of the winner selection process, the British Fashion Council leverages its industry expertise and access to fashion innovation businesses to assess and feedback on circular solutions.
“We are delighted to work with eBay to drive transformative, positive change by supporting entrepreneurs that are helping to deliver circular solutions for the fashion industry of tomorrow.
“The Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund champions pioneers in this space, and we were incredibly impressed by the expertise, commitment and leadership demonstrated by each of our winners.
“We’d like to congratulate all six winners on what they have achieved so far and look forward to supporting them as they build, scale and thrive,” said Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council.
Circular Fashion Economy Growth
The Fund builds on eBay’s long-standing support for the circular fashion economy: in 2021 eBay helped save over 17,770 tons of fashion items out of landfills – the equivalent of 1,404 double-decker buses.
eBay is focused on making it simpler and easier for people to shop sustainably, with recent announcements including:
- Partnership with Reskinned, the second-hand clothing repair and resale experts. This expands on eBay’s offering of pre-loved clothing to include a wide range of items that have been repaired and made fit for resale, and the new ‘brand approved’ shopfront connects Reskinned with eBay’s 20 million plus customers.
- Launch of eBay’s Imperfects Hub, a destination for sought-after in-season branded fashion that may not be 100% perfect. It features over 180 brands including North Face, Off White, Puma, Fila and Timberland.
- Partnerships with Love Island and Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign for the third year running, as part of eBay’s work to change the conversation around second-hand shopping.
- eBay continued its commitment to helping drive better shopping habits by only promoting refurbished and pre-loved deals for Black Friday this year across all its marketing content.
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