European Commission has announced the 30 semi-finalists for its 2020 European Social Innovation Competition - ‘Reimagine Fashion’ that aims to place a spotlight on “early-stage” sustainable fashion innovations.
30 projects from 14 countries, including the UK, were selected from a field of 766 applications, explained organisers, with the semi-finalists selected by a judging panel comprising of industry leaders from both the social innovation and sustainable fashion worlds.
The selected semi-finalists are all early-stage social innovation projects that are working towards changing the ways we produce, buy, use and recycle fashion and encouraging a sustainable change in consumer behaviour.
Commenting on the semi-finalists, Slawomir Tokarski, director of innovation and advanced manufacturing, DG GROW, said in a statement: “Building on Europe’s position at the forefront of global fashion, this year’s European Social Innovation Competition set out to look for innovations that encourage more sustainability across the fashion industry. 766 applicants from across Europe and the Horizon 2020 associated countries answered our call and we’re really impressed with the variety of creative ideas they’ve come up with to help reimagine fashion for the better.”
Among those competing to become one of the 10 finalists, and ultimately, one of the three winners, is Copenhagen Fashion Week, which has been selected for its plans to reinvent its fashion week by introducing minimum sustainability requirements for any brand wishing to participate.
"Our plan to transition our fashion week is not new, but in the context of the pandemic crisis it is now more relevant and urgent than ever,” added Cecilie Thorsmark, chief executive of Copenhagen Fashion Week. “Reassessing the role of fashion weeks and coming up with innovative solutions to become platforms for industry change is the only way forward, and I hope the jury sees the tremendous potential it holds.”
30 semi-finalists named for 2020 European Social Innovation Competition
Other semi-finalists include UK-based MyFactori, an AI-driven operatingf system for on-demand distributed apparel manufacturing by connecting manufacturers, machinery, suppliers, designers and consumers to enable production, communication, information exchange and commerce, and Post Carbon Fashion, zero-waste and regenerative dyeing and coating services for textile applications through microbiological processes.
There were four semi-finalists each from Romania and Germany, the most of any European country. The Romanian entries are: ChoozFitz (change to ChoozFit) - a proprietary outfit recommendation engine for digital fashion brands that helps consumers make more sustainable choices; Cultural Sustainability in Fashion - an artisan-designer collaboration focused on reviving heritage European textile crafts; WasteLess Fashion - a zero-waste fashion system that enables designers to donate scrap fabric to fashion education institutions; and WoolWays which monetises waste wool by connecting shepherds to the yarn market and controlling the value chain from raw fibre to product.
In Germany, the companies are: Dyeluxe which has developed a method to transform natural colour pigments, derived from food by-products, into textile dyes; Hempcell - a start-up that is promoting premium European Hemp Lyocell fibres as a viable and sustainable textile alternative; Kleiderly - a start-up that turns recycled clothes into durable material used to make a range of products, from furniture to suitcases; and Our Fashion is Circular (change to RE-NT) - a digital platform that enables brands to rent out fashion products, track performance and recycle unwanted items.
Other notable semi-finalists include Alma from Italy, which is a material innovation start-up, focusing on finding sustainable components to create vegan leather, while ByBrown's Transposable Circular Raincoat in the Netherlands has a 100 percent recyclable, circular and durable raincoat that is to be distributed through a new consumption model, and Shuffle Swaps in Ireland is a location-based swap-shop platform built as a "dating site" for clothes, where users swipe, match and swap with others.
2020 European Social Innovation - Reimagine Fashion competition
The rest of the semi-finalists are:
Edith (Italy) - an app that offers personalised style tips and helps users to organise their wardrobes.
Love Your Denim (Italy) - a means to collect unwanted jeans and then turn them into a yarn from which cotton sweaters and jackets are produced.
MycoTex (Netherlands) - an innovation to make custom-made clothes using a sustainable fabric made from mycelium, a substance found in mushroom roots.
Fairbrics (France) - a technology that converts the CO2 emitted during fabric manufacturing into new synthetic fabrics.
Pulp Fashion (France) - fashion made from low carbon footprint manufacturing processes, using an easily recyclable material: paper.
Fluid Fashion Realities (Spain) - a system that allows users to match physical garments with digital projections of looks in real-time.
MeuTeu Co-design Lab (Spain) - a sustainable fashion lab that uses co-design with consumers as an inclusive approach to create products that they really need.Senstile: The future is tactile (Spain) - a search engine that identifies, matches, and compares textiles digitally and at scale.
Novel Dyes for Water-free Dyeing of Biofibers (Sweden) - a start-up that is seeking to reduce water waste during fabric dyeing processes, by developing a CO2-based biofibre dye.
Resortecs (Belgium) - dissolvable stitching thread and heat-dismountable rivets that help make the reuse and recycling textile products easier.
Rond: CO2 reduced soles from discarded fabric (Denmark) - sweat and shock-absorbent insoles made from fibres upcycled from discarded textiles.
Snake (Croatia) - a digital commerce platform which applies augmented reality and enables development of digital fashion by changing the way fashion is consumed.
Style Your Stay (Portugal) - a rental marketplace for travellers, enabling them to rent clothing, shoes and accessories from local brands when they arrive at a new destination.
Vintage for a Cause (Portugal) - a collaborative upcycling platform that empowers women over the age of 50 in long term unemployment.
Swap Shop (Slovenia) - a swap shop where consumers can trade unwanted clothes. Un-swapped items are then transformed into new, durable garments.
Vividye: Reversible colouring for textiles (Sweden) - a colour and textile printing technique that allows for prints to be removed from fabric, so that new ones can be applied.
Each of the semi-finalists will receive an online package of support from experienced social innovators to further development their ideas, including the competition’s social innovation academy, a multi-day training event that connects the semi-finalists to a wider community of European social innovators through a series of dedicated presentations and workshops.
This year the academy will take place online, offering the same programme in a collaborative and digital format. Semi-Finalists will also be paired with a local coach for 1-to-1 mentoring and gain access to an online Pool of Experts for tailored advice on specific aspects of launching a social venture.
The aim of the support package is to prepare them for the next stage of the competition, where they submit extensive development plans to the judging panel.
The judges will then select 10 finalists in September and eventually 3 winners, each of whom will be awarded 50,000 euros. Additionally, an Impact Prize of 50,000 euros will be awarded to the semi-finalist from the 2019 edition of the competition that has achieved the most significant impact over the past 12 months. All of the finalists and semi-finalists will be invited to attend the award ceremony this autumn.
Image: courtesy of Copenhagen Fashion Week