The British Fashion Council (BFC) and eBay UK have announced six winners of the first Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, awarding 100,000 pounds to small businesses with circular fashion solutions.
The fund is designed to help support the growth of small businesses providing more sustainable solutions for the fashion industry, with each winner awarded a 15,000-pound grant to accelerate their growth, alongside mentoring from industry leaders.
The winners include the social fashion rental app By Rotation, which allows fashion fans to rent and lend quality items to each other. The app has already received more than 500,000 downloads in the UK and is soon to expand to the US.
In addition, Circular Textiles Foundation, which uses tech to connect clothing design, takeback and recycling was recognised, as was the on-demand tailoring business The Seam, and Sages, an innovator of natural dyes made from food waste that is providing a commercial alternative to harmful synthetic dyes.
Rounding off the winners is Pip and Henry, a designer of unique sustainable shoes for kids made with innovative recycled and biomaterials that also provides recycling solutions and eco-educational content and stories for kids, and Circular Inc. Ltd that provides circular design and sustainable manufacturing to accompany radio frequency identification (RFID)-assisted commercial repair and upcycling of clothing.
An overall winner from the six businesses will be announced soon, added the BFC and eBay UK, and they will receive an additional 10,000-pound grant.
Commenting on being selected, Tim Cross, founder of Circular Textiles Foundation, said in a statement: “We are honoured to be recognised 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.”
eBay UK and British Fashion Council award 100,000 pounds to circular fashion solution brands including By Rotation, Circular Textiles Foundation, and The Seam
The fund builds on eBay UK’s support for the circular fashion economy and aims to bring new technology and services to market that can help people "think and shop differently," with a focus on customer experience, circular inventory and services, and social commerce.
Alongside the financial support, eBay will also provide the winners with a six-week mentoring programme, featuring one-on-one sessions with business leaders from the marketplace and organisations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as well as networking opportunities. Environmental charity Hubbub will also be supporting in an advisory role.
Lucy Peacock, head of pre-loved at eBay UK, said: “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 epitomise 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.”
Caroline Rush, chief executive at the BFC, added: “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.”