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Congratulations to Biophilica, our Manufacturing Futures 2021 Innovation Challenge Winners!

On Tuesday 7 September, we brought together members of our Fashion District community to celebrate the winners of the Manufacturing Futures 2021 Innovation Award.

The Innovation Challenge was set up by Fashion District in 2019 to stimulate ideas for use of technology in fashion, and to generate future solutions for industry uses.

Supporting the development of these innovative solutions is a crucial part of Fashion District’s remit, an important piece of our dynamic network that aims to help the fashion industry thrive. To that end, each year we focus the prize on a relevant challenge to encourage products and solutions that could disrupt the mainstream – with this year’s challenge focused on solutions that can revolutionise any part of the fashion supply chain and drive future growth in the industry.

“Manufacturing Futures 2021 has brought forward truly cutting edge start-ups with some ground-breaking technologies. We have a real opportunity to collaborate, both within the industry and with other sectors, to bring on the brightest and most impactful innovations to reshape the industry.”

Helen Lax, Director, Fashion District.

The shortlist itself was selected from a host of impressive and creative applications by our esteemed panel of industry experts. This year’s cohort is comprised of ten start-ups who showed true innovation and the potential to change the future of manufacturing.

We are thrilled to share that during the ceremony, BIOPHILICA was announced as the winner of the Manufacturing Futures Prize for Treekind™ – an entirely plant-based, compostable, leather alternative for the fashion industry. Highly Commended was awarded to MODERN SYNTHESIS, a biomaterials start-up making cellulose materials by growing microbes, and NANOLOOM, creating biodegradable fibre based on graphene that does not shed.

Our Winners! Treekind by BIOPHILICA. Left to Right: Dr Beinn Murr (R&D Chemistry BIOPHILICA), Jordan Berkowitz (Strategy & Marketing BIOPHILICA) Toni Allen, (Director of International Strategic Marketing and Engagement, IET) Credit: Charlie Williams Photography

“We brought engineers and the fashion industry together to solve some of its biggest challenges, and these innovations certainly show the potential to change the future of fashion manufacturing and completely transform the industry.”

Danielle George, MBE, President, IET.

Sponsored by the IET in celebration of its 150th anniversary in May this year, BIOPHILICA will receive a cash prize of £15,000 as well as a one-year lab membership for rapid prototyping and experimentation, provided by the Mills Fabrica.

In addition, IBM will provide bespoke business support that utilises design thinking to produce an action plan, and Common Objective will offer a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing.

Award Sculptures Created by Dust London, Exclusively for Fashion District. Credit: Charlie Williams Photography

Browse more information about our prize winners below, and make sure you also check out the 2021 Shortlisted Ventures to discover some truly inspiring solutions and products.

Our Winners

Treekind™ by Biophilica – Innovation Challenge Award Winners

Treekind™ by Biophilica is a plant-based leather alternative for the fashion industry. It is estimated to be carbon negative, recyclable as green waste, home compostable, non-toxic and completely free of plastic and petrochemicals. With Treekind™ we want to support the transition to local, sustainable manufacturing and consumption.

Modern Synthesis – Highly Commended

Modern Synthesis is a London based biomaterial start-up connecting the dots between biology, material science and design to craft progressive biomaterials for the fashion industry. The company’s ‘microbial weaving’ process employs microbes to grow a strong, lightweight cellulose-based composite material that is naturally biodegradable and offers unique potential for customization.

Nanoloom – Highly Commended

Nanoloom creates biodegradable fibre from a novel, unique nanomaterial called BioHastalex, which is based on graphene. BioHastalex is extremely strong, light, flexible and durable. It can be made to attract or repel water without additives, doesn’t shed and is scalable. This makes it suitable for numerous applications, and Nanoloom currently focuses on performance apparel.

First Wave of Fashion District Festival Events Announced

Here at Fashion District we are incredibly excited to share the news that the schedule for the Fashion District Festival, taking place 22-26th September 2021, is now available to browse and book online.

Join us this September to discover London’s fashion innovators, and take your pick from a variety of exciting events, including interactive upcycling workshops, styling sessions, business support seminars and our Fashion District Festival Showcase, with an exclusive After Party at multi-level restaurant and bar, Haugen.

Based in Stratford, the festival will be split into four pillars, Grow, Make, Watch and Shop, and will take place in and around five close-knit locations; Westfield Stratford, The E20 Lab, The Stratford Hotel, The British Council, and The Pavillion in the Olympic Village.

Shop The Festival

Billi London Founders. Right: Marie Bouhier Left: Sophie Billi-Hardwick

There will be an array of activities over the five days of the festival. One of our highlights under the SHOP pillar includes our Westfield Stratford Pop-Up Shop, which will offer fashion lovers the chance to shop a range of independent, sustainable brands and their ethically produced clothes. Recently confirmed labels include Billi LondonFanfareKA WA KEYWolinskaTimna WeberThe ArrayOMNISSKhaunumsDaniel CrabtreeBlonde Gone RogueEmile Vidal Carr and Klements. We are also collaborating with Lone Design Club, who will supply clothes and accessories from a number of emerging, trend-setting brands featured on their platform.

Alongside clothes to buy, visitors to the pop-up will also have the opportunity to rent unique, designer pieces from rental clothing app By Rotation. Browse rental outfits to wear at any number of upcoming special occasions, like birthdays, weddings or parties.

Our Pop-Up will also offer an exclusive selection of children’s clothing items, provided by child clothing resale app Dotte, and their fast-growing trusted community of sellers.

Grow with the Fashion District

Our Grow pillar offers emerging designers, fashion and fashion-technology start-ups free business support sessions. Firstly, The Trampery, supported by the British Council, will be running two days of business seminars to help fashion ventures integrate sustainability more effectively into their business model and growth plans. The sessions will cover everything manufacturing, business model, materials and futures – showcasing radical fashion brands that are disrupting the sector with their sustainability activities.

Festival partners will also be running one-off, interactive sessions. Fashion Minority Report will be hosting a special event for budding fashion and creative professionals from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing a career in fashion. Plus the Fashion Innovation Agency will be joining the festival for a rare all-team appearance to delve into their projects and the future of fashion & technology.

SABINNA London, Panel Speaker at The Trampery’s Sustainable Business Models Event.


Be sure not to miss the Festival Showcase. Celebrate East London’s extraordinary fashion talent at the Fashion District Festival with our designer showcase in the heart of the Olympic Village, featuring a one-off performance directed by On|Off Creative Director, Lee Lapthorne. Using the façade of the newly-built Pavilion as a backdrop, Lapthorne has hand-picked the very best of his On|Off London Fashion Week community of designers to highlight their latest show pieces, and teamed up with choreographer Kwame Asafo-Adjei to create an explosion of hip hop, beatbox, fashion and wearable art.

Plus, Love Not Landfill will be running various styling events using donated clothing alongside top Depop sellers. Learn how to style a variety of items and make the most out of your wardrobe or unique charity shop finds.

Make Sustainable Garments

Wool Materials for Joao Marashin Clothing

Looking to become more sustainable? Join RETURE and a number of designers for interactive, upcycling workshops designed to encourage guests to learn how to repair or remake their own clothes.

Whether you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe without buying new items or you’d like to improve your sewing skills, these workshops offer a chance to learn new skills directly from some of the most exciting emerging designers in London. The RETURE designers have also been busy working on a whole range of upcycled pieces that will be for sale, so you can choose to give them a new life. 

We are also working with Get Living and FutureCity to create a unique makers space at the festival, located at The E20 Lab. We’ll be offering a number of MAKE events here, including an opportunity for children to customise old garments into capes with Making for Change (ages 4-9) as well as a dynamic denim revamp workshop with The Fashion School to encourage children to learn more about clothing customisation (ages 9-11).

Learn new techniques, discover the latest trends and expand your knowledge. Book your place at one of our workshops now.

We can’t wait to see you!

Looking for a place to stay during the festival? We have partnered with the Holiday Inn, Staybridge suites and The Stratford to offer deals for Festival attendees. Head over to our partner page to learn more.