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Investment Opportunity: Apply to The Backroom Pitch by Sun 10 July, midnight


Investment Opportunity: PDS Innovation Awards

We’re delighted to announce that Fashion District is supporting The PDS Innovation Awards! Celebrating the ongoing partnership between Common Objective (CO) and PDS Limited, the awards offer early-stage businesses the opportunity to pitch in front of PDS investors.

About the awards

PDS Limited is a leader in enabling the next generation of sustainable and scalable fashion tech start-ups. PDS Venture Tech, the venture arm of PDS Limited, has already invested in a raft of businesses – from Materra to Good on You, Unspun, and many more. Could you be their next investment? The PDS Innovation Awards is your opportunity to pitch to the PDS investment team, plus benefit from promotion to the 50k+ Common Objective fashion industry base.

For the purpose of the awards, the judging panel considers sustainability to encompass positive impact for people, as well as addressing environmental concerns.

How it works

By completing the application form below and creating a CO business profile, you enter the competition to win a chance to pitch in front of the PDS investment team. In this process, the CO team will pre-screen a shortlist of the most innovative and exciting start-ups. Out of these, PDS will select a few that will be invited to pitch. Judging these pitches, PDS will select a winner to be considered for investment or other support from PDS.

All shortlisted applicants will benefit from promotion across the CO platform. All applicants benefit from creating a free business profile on CO, and joining the global industry community dedicated to sustainability best practice. 

Who can apply

For your business to be eligible for the awards, you must:

What’s in it for you

Judging criteria

Judges will be looking for the following:

Innovation led business models


Application process

To finish your application, please complete the following 2 steps:

Applications can only be considered if both steps have been completed by the deadline: 30th June 2022.

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more events and opportunities for you and your business!

Apply Now: The Backroom Pitch!

Are you a fashion or fashion-tech startup focusing on sustainability? Looking to raise £250K and above over the next 6-12 months? Apply to The Backroom Pitch to be in with the chance of pitching your business to VCs and leading investors!

Fashion District is hosting The Backroom Pitch in Stratford on Tuesday 19 July, 18:00 – 20:30, where selected businesses will pitch to a panel of VCs and investors, all interested in new sustainable solutions that tackle the critical issues of the fashion industry.

Joining us on the day will be Diarra Smith and investors from Ascension Ventures, Backed VC, Bethnal Green Ventures, Conduit Connect, Fuel Ventures, Nesta, Speedinvest, PDS Ventures, Alma Angels and many more!

The diverse line-up of investors will be looking for businesses that are focused on any part of the fashion value chain including (but not limited to):

If your solution aims to innovate the fashion industry, to help it become more circular, more sustainable, more ethical, we would love to hear from you.

In between pitching, the selected businesses will be able to network with other founders, fashion professionals and entrepreneurs. This is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss!

Application Process + Eligibility

To be in with the chance of pitching at The Backroom Pitch, please complete the application form below by Sunday 10 July, midnight.

Applications will be selected based on the following criteria:

We are committed to diversity and inclusion and strongly encourage applications from founders that are women, black, POC, and other underrepresented communities.

Apply for The Backroom Pitch now!

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us at

All applicants will receive the outcome of their application by 12 July.

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on The Backroom Pitch and more exciting opportunities and events:

Meet Design Futures 2022 Prize Giver: Anglo American Sewing Machines

Anglo American Sewing Machines is a company with a difference – for one thing, they have a long, colourful history. 

“My grandfather started with just a couple of second hand machines after WW2,” Marc Shaffer, owner of Anglo American Sewing Machines, says. “Word spread, and then my father and uncle opened the first Anglo American Sewing Machines shop in East London in 1970.”

The company is now over 60 years old, with three shops in London and a slew of major clients all across the globe. “We look after all the big designers and fashion boutiques, as well as schools, colleges and universities and big airline companies. We really pride ourselves on our longstanding clients.”

Renowned for selling industrial sewing machines and ironing equipment, Anglo American Sewing Machines also offer a bespoke maintenance service and machine rental service – and now, they’ll be adding another string to their bow as sponsors of our Design Futures 2022 prize. “We’re thrilled to be offering a brand new sewing machine to the winner of Fashion District’s upcoming innovation challenge. We want to play our part in helping the future of design and we can’t wait to support the designer or brand that wins.”

Why did you decide to partake in Design Futures 2022? 

“Our entire company has been founded on helping people and offering a great service. Design Futures 2022 is exciting because we can really help somebody get started and take the next steps in their design career. We’ll try to be with them every step of the way and offer support in any way we can. We’ve had people work with us for 40 years and we hope this will be the case with the winner of the prize.”

Have you noticed your clients in the fashion industry adopting more sustainable methods?

“Yes. After the pandemic, a number of studios brought production back to Britain to ensure quality control and also for sustainable reasons. A lot of people are also opting for our rental service and using our direct drive sewing machines which use 70 percent less than a standard industrial sewing machine. They only run when your foot is on the pedal so they are a more sustainable option.” 

Over the decades, your company has seen a lot of changes in the London fashion industry. Do you feel hopeful about the future of the industry?

“The rag trade had its peak in the 1970s, London was booming then! But when I joined my family’s company in the 1990s, a lot of brands and companies went overseas, mainly to China, which really impacted businesses. We certainly had to change what we were doing and think about new ways we could benefit customers. Since the pandemic however, a lot of companies are keeping things in Britain which does make me feel hopeful. Although, I really hope the government starts putting more money into training people on industrial machines as there aren’t enough workers at the moment. But yes, overall I am hopeful. I think designers and companies are making different choices now. They care a lot more about quality and sustainability, which is wonderful to see.”

To be in with the chance of winning a brand new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines, apply to take part in Design Futures 2022 now!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on this year’s design innovation challenge and more exciting opportunities and events:

Design Futures 2022 Launch at The Lab E20

Last week we celebrated the launch of Design Futures 2022 in collaboration with PANGAIA.

Taking place at The Lab E20, the event offered attendees the chance to hear from our panel of judges including Craig Smith (PANGAIA), Shajila Dube (Institute of Positive Fashion), Laetitia Forst (Centre for Circular Design), Phoebe English and Sarah Mower, about this year’s design innovation challenge. 

Speaking to the crowd, Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, said she was ‘excited by the energy of the challenge,’ as well as the conversation that arose throughout the night. 

Kicking off the event was our keynote speaker Marilyn Martinez from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who stressed the importance of designing for reuse, as well as factoring in emotional durability and customer experience. ‘Collaboration is key,’ Marilyn said. ‘We need to think about how we include people in the conversation, both consumers and big businesses. This will bring about true change.’ Marilyn also highlighted the importance of designing circular business models and supply chains. ‘It’s okay to start small. You have to start somewhere,’ Marilyn added. ‘Circular design is a journey but there is a huge purpose – you’re making a difference.’ 

Afterwards our judging panel took to the stage to share what they’re looking for in this year’s challenge. Craig Smith, Research and Development Director of Pangaia, said he’s looking for ‘a fresh perspective and originality’ while also highlighting that applicants should be transparent in ‘acknowledge where they might need support.’ Finally, he signed off by calling attention to the  4 F’s: Fit, Fabric, Form and Function.  

Shailja Dube emphasized she’ll be paying close attention to construction – how the garment can be reprocessed and taken apart – as well as the scalability of the business model.

Dr Laetitia Forst urged applicants to think about every element of design and what it implies. ‘Being aware of the product’s context can be a good way of showing you’re a conscious designer,’ Laetitia told the crowd.

Sarah Mower said she’ll be on the lookout for proof of concept and innovation, before adding that she hopes the garments will look beautiful. ‘There has to be a reason for the design to exist. Don’t design something that’s ugly.’ She also stressed that having the buyer in mind is incredibly important and wants applicants to think about how they are going to communicate their product. 

Phoebe English said she’s keen to see ‘something that people will treasure,’ as well as ‘careful, considered thinking.’ ‘I want to see designers understand the purpose of their product,’ Phoebe said. ‘Producing less and thinking carefully is key right now.’

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to design a new sustainable solution? Want to be in with a chance of winning £15,000? Applications for Design Futures 2022 are now open!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news about this year’s design innovation challenge

Come along to the launch of our next Innovation Challenge: Design Futures 2022

Thursday 5 May | 18:00 – 20:00
The Lab E20, 3-4 East Park Walk, East Village, London, E20 1JB

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our next innovation challenge Design Futures 2022, in collaboration with PANGAIA. Join us on May 5 at The Lab E20 to find out more about this year’s challenge, hear from renowned leaders in fashion sustainability, and network with London’s fashion, tech and innovation communities.

About the Challenge

Fashion District challenges are designed to find innovative solutions to current industry issues across retail, manufacture and design. This year we’re spotlighting design and honing in on circularity. We welcome applications from sustainably-driven fashion designers who believe that they have the potential to revolutionise the design process. Areas could include:

Applicants will be in with the chance of winning cash prizes, support, and the opportunity to pitch to some of the industry’s leading brands and innovators.

Meet the Judges

Design Futures 2022 brings together high-profile fashion and sustainability experts committed to supporting the next wave of innovation. Come along to the launch to hear from our esteemed judging panel, including:

We’ll also be joined by Elodie Rousselot, Strategic Design Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who will deliver a keynote speech at the launch. Elodie’s expertise and recent experience leading on the recent Circular Design for Fashion book will undoubtedly make for a motivational and thought-provoking introduction to Design Futures 2022.

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to receive updates about this exciting event!

Fashion District: Investment Event Series

Fashion District’s first ever investment event series is coming to you on April 7. Taking place at The Lab E20, these events will give you the chance to connect with fashion professionals and investors, partake in workshops, and find out about new businesses and innovations launching in the fashion space.

We’re collaborating with experts in communication, investment and innovation to help upgrade your pitching skills and guide you on the next steps in your business journey. Find out how to make moves towards your career aspirations and secure the funding you deserve! 

Sign up to any of our free events below: 

Pitching Workshops with Amy Tez
12:00 – 14:00 | 14:30 – 16:30

Keen to brush up on your pitching skills? Communication strategist Amy Tez has got you covered. Join her workshop to learn how to influence your audience through the power of storytelling, command a room – both online and offline – and unite your peers behind a shared goal.

During this interactive workshop, you’ll be given a safe space to share your unique strengths and gaps, whilst gaining tailored advice on how to raise your game and escalate impact.

Unlike standard business training, Amy’s process is rooted in solid actor and storytelling techniques, as well as in performance psychology to get you communicating with far greater clarity and power.

1:1 Investment Clinics
15-minute sessions | 15:30 – 17:30

Fashion startups can book a 15-minute slot with investment and innovation experts to receive personalised advice on the next steps in their business journey. This is the perfect opportunity to gain insider tips and guidance from industry pros, find out how to get the funding you need to succeed.

Don’t miss out! Book your free 1:1 slot now with one of the following experts:

Jonathan Chippindale
Chairman of the London Fashion Fund and CEO of Holition, the renowned creative innovation studio, Jonathan is helping to shape the future of the industry. As well as acting as a Digital Advisor to the British Fashion Council and Innovation Advisor to Tate, Jonathan is a founding member of the London College of Fashion Digital Think Tank and advisor to the University of Cambridge Digital Compass Group.

Shanaya Curtis
Currently the Senior Equity Fundraising Manager at Crowdcube – one of Britain’s most popular crowdfunding platforms – Shanaya is primarily focused on sourcing and building relationships with Europe’s leading private companies. Her role entails advising start-ups and scale-ups on sources of investment and their ability to crowdfund.

Abi Mohamed
Abi is the Libra Programme Lead at Tech Nation, the leading growth platform for UK tech scaleups. With years of experience facilitating and helping UK tech companies scale, both at home and abroad, Abi leads on The Libra Programme – the newest growth programme for early-stage underrepresented founders scaling in the UK. Having previously worked as software engineer, Abi is also the co-founder of Community Growth Venture, an angel investor group based in the UK. 

Mandy Nyarko
Mandy is the co-founder of Startup Discovery School, an innovation consultancy that develops programmes for public and private organisations in the U.K that are focused on building sustainability startups. Aside from being an Angel Investor and Venture Partner at Ada Ventures, a 50M VC fund focusing on investing in overlooked founders, Mandy also serves as an advisor on the SME action board to the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Alexander Shapiro
Alexander works as an Investment Manager at The Conduit Connect, an investing company that scales innovative technologies and businesses that are solving challenging issues. Having obtained an MSc in Development Economics from the London School of Economics, Alexander has years of experience advising clients in the public sector on strategies to nurture impact focused businesses. 

Hannah Williamson
As an Investment Manager at Edge VC, Hannah focuses on deal flow generation and execution, particularly focusing on retail tech and content businesses. Previously, Hannah worked at the online retailer ASOS within the operational side of the business. Hannah holds a first-class honours degree in Fashion and Textile Management from Nottingham Trent University.

Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening
18:00 – 20:00

For our Pitcha Kucha investment evening, we are spotlighting 8 fashion startups and offering them the chance to pitch their hearts out to a panel of investors and industry experts. Join us for a fun, laidback evening where you can watch the most exciting emerging fashion businesses practice their pitching and receive quick-fire, friendly feedback.

The chosen fashion startups are each tackling key challenges in the fashion value chain with a variety of solutions spanning retail tech, manufacturing tech, materials innovation and experiential / digital technologies. This is the perfect chance to learn about emerging businesses and innovations that are entering the fashion space, whilst connecting with innovators, investors, designers, makers and entrepreneurs.

We’ll have a DJ on hand to bring The Lab E20 alive so, come along, grab a drink, and get to know like-minded individuals at the forefront of the industry – you do not want to miss this!

Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening: Expressions of Interest

UPDATE: Please note that expressions of interest are now closed for this event.

If you want to be in with the chance of pitching to our panel of investment and innovation experts at the Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening, we are currently still accepting expressions of interest to take part.

Check out our previous article to find out more, or simply fill in the EOI form by midnight on Monday 21st March to be in with a chance of pitching at the Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening.

Good Work for Fashion Roundtable and Workshops

17th + 24th Feb
The Lab E20, 3-4 East Park Walk, East Village, London, E20 1JB

Join The Trampery to explore how London’s fashion industry can adopt more sustainable, inclusive and ethical best practice with a series of workshops and roundtable discussions.

These events are hosted by The Trampery, in partnership with The Mayor of London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Fashion District.

Roundtable Discussions
17th + 24th Feb, 10:00 – 13:00

Inviting London’s fashion industry to help shape the future of ‘Good Work’ for fashion, The Trampery will be hosting two roundtable discussions where organisations and brands can explore this important topic and consider how best practice can be shared within the capital.

17th Feb, 14:30 – 17:00

A two-part workshop focussed on good social and environmental governance within the fashion industry. This workshop will provide practical advice on how to implement best practice across supply chains and within head offices.

24th Feb, 14:30 – 17:00

A two-part panel discussion focussed on how to create a more equitable and representative fashion industry. The panel will share their experience on a wide range of topics from fair pay and a Living Wage, how to improve diversity and inclusion in the sector, and recruitment and employment best practices.

These events will also introduce how The Mayor’s Good Work Standard can be implemented for London’s fashion businesses, and are aimed at fashion brands, retailers, manufacturers and support organisations.

Together we can ensure London remains one of the most innovative, inclusive and sustainable fashion capitals.

Fashion Circle: Sustainably Made

Join us at Fashion Circle, an event series presented by the Fashion District and The Trampery for fashion businesses to learn and develop their network. We are delighted to host the second in the series, during ReLondon’s Circular Economy Week, to shine a spotlight on some critical issues for sustainable manufacturing.

Flora Davidson, Founder of SupplyCompass, will join us to provide insights into sustainable production practices, and ways in which technology can play a key role in enabling better, more collaborative and more sustainable relationships between brands and their supply chain partners. Diana Kakkar, of MAES London, will then share her expertise as the founder of a luxury manufacturing studio that focuses on ethical manufacturing and creates closer links between designers and manufacturers.

Image courtesy of Gung Ho

Finally, from the designer’s perspective, Esther Knight, Founder of Fanfare, and Sophie Dunster, Founder of Gung Ho, will discuss their experiences of setting up a sustainable fashion label – including the importance of having responsible supply chain activities from day one. They will address the challenges of navigating a competitive environment where sustainability messaging can be confusing, and will consider the fundamental values that should drive any sustainable fashion brand.

Image courtesy of Fanfare Label

The Agenda:

  • Welcome – Helen Lax, Fashion District & Patrick Scally, The Trampery (5 mins)
  • Sustainable Production Practices – Flora Davidson, Supply Compass (15 mins with Q&A)
  • Ethical Manufacturing – Diana Kakkar, Maes London (15 mins with Q&A)
  • Starting Up Sustainably – Fanfare and Gung Ho in Conversation (15 mins with Q&A)
  • Full Panel Discussion and Q&A – All Speakers (15 mins)
  • Speed Networking – Enjoy some digital match-making as you get connected with other event attendees at five minute intervals. (25 mins)

About the Panel:

FLORA DAVIDSON is the Founder of SupplyCompass, a production platform for fashion brands and manufacturers. Through their two-sided product development and production management platform – SupplyCompass enables brands and their manufacturers to produce better, together. In 2016, Flora moved from London to Mumbai to start SupplyCompass. She lived in India for 2 years to build the business on the ground, spending much of her time on the road researching and visiting 300+ manufacturers and suppliers. SupplyCompass’ mission is to reimagine, rebalance and rebuild global supply chains; they want to change how things work and enable a new way of designing and managing production that works for people and the planet – not just profit!

DIANA KAKKAR is the Founder and Chief Executive of MAES London, a luxury garment manufacturing studio that specialises in designer womenswear. With over a decade’s industry experience she launched the business to make premium manufacturing more accessible to fashion designers. Diana is a fashion designer herself and has over 10 years’ experience in garment making; she understands the time, effort and expenses incurred by designers and has put together a highly skilled team that deliver beautifully made garments in a cost-effective and ethical way. She’s passionate about creating closer links between designers and manufacturers, whilst finding a growing demand for sampling and small-scale production here in the UK. MAES stands for “SEAM” spelled backwards.

ESTHER KNIGHT is the Founder of Fanfare Label, a sustainable women’s clothing brand transforming the way people buy, wear and discard clothing.  Esther has previously worked for many high street & designer brands, including Vivienne Westwood. Working her way up to buyer level, Esther saw first-hand the pressure that fast-fashion companies place on their suppliers and contractors and began working on a solution, combining her industry expertise with her desire to promote sustainable fashion with eco-conscious practises. Fanfare Label reduces waste by turning clothing and textile waste into premium product. With circularity, longevity and recycling at its core, Fanfare Label offers customers timeless, seasonless pieces that are made to be cherished.

SOPHIE DUNSTER is the Founder of Gung Ho, a London-based ethical and sustainable fashion brand. Coming from a “zero carbon” family background, sustainability has been part of Sophie’s life from an early age. Starting out, she wanted to become a political artist but after discovering a world of silk screen printing when studying in Brighton, she realised her drawings could become a walking ‘talking point’. This way, it wasn’t a piece of artwork hanging on a wall for a limited amount of people to see, it became someone’s first impression of you – and Sophie believes that fashion shouldn’t just make you look good, but showcase your values too. Gung Ho’s collections exemplify this ethos – each collection highlights a different ecological or social issue and 10% of the profits are donated to a charity that works with the cause. The collections are also ‘seasonless’ and are made fairly and locally from sustainable fabrics.