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Manufacturing Futures: Shortlist Announcement!

Fashion District has announced the shortlist of 10 start-ups and SMEs in its coveted Innovation Challenge: Manufacturing Futures programme.

As part of the programme, the brands have the chance to win a £15,000 cash prize to develop their sustainable manufacturing business to make an impact on the fashion industry, chosen by a judging panel of experts in July.

The shortlisted start-ups are:

Helen Lax, Fashion District Director said:

“It is incredible to be part of something that has the potential to change the way an industry works and make a real impact for future generations. The shortlist of brands in this iteration of Manufacturing Futures is spectacularly strong, and one can’t help but be amazed by the sheer talent and innovation held by the next gen of changemakers.”

The shortlist was chosen by the Manufacturing Futures judging panel, consisting of industry experts Ella Gould, Head of Sustainability and Innovation at Selfridges; Chelsea Franklin, Head of Advanced Concept Design at PANGAIA; Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, Gillian Lipton, Sustainability Director at Alexander McQueen; and Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion, UAL.

Winners from the previous Innovation Challenges include Lone Design Club, a platform where independent brands and conscious shoppers meet; Sparkbox, a retail planning and optimisation platform powered by machine learning; and Biophilica for their entirely plant-based, compostable leather alternative, Treekind.

Fashion District was founded in 2018 with a goal to bring together fashion, technology, business and education in east London to meet, compete, collaborate and innovate. Fashion District works with a number of different partners to facilitate support programmes helping to develop a strong, sustainable network within the UK fashion industry. Spearheaded by Director Helen Lax, Fashion District is supported by London College of Fashion, UAL, and the Mayor of London.


Arda Biomaterials
Arda Biomaterials transforms globally abundant waste and co-product streams into scalable, animal, and plastic-free biomaterials. Arda’s first transformation is turning spent grain from the beer brewing and whisky distilling industries into a novel, leather-like material called New Grain, for use in fashion, automotive, and other sectors.

Fab Materials
Fab Materials are on a mission to deliver planet scale upcycling of the world’s post-consumer fashion waste. Our breakthrough solution addresses the 90M tonnes of clothing that’s sent to landfill or incinerated annually. We convert hard to recycle fashion waste into valuable boards and composites.

Fibe is revolutionising the industry by engineering cutting-edge technology to extract cellulosic fibres from potato harvest waste. This untapped waste, which amounts to 150M tonnes annually and cannot be fed to livestock or compost, has the potential to provide 70% of global non-synthetic clothing demand. Our fibres use 99% less water, produce 82% less CO2e and require no land compared to cotton.

Fiiba is a next generation textile developer, scaling sustainable materials for the fashion industry made from 100% agricultural waste. Fiiba fibre has 1/10 the carbon footprint of conventional cotton and a 100% transparent supply chain. Fiiba raises low-income farmers out of poverty by paying for their waste and providing free organic fertiliser (a natural by-product of Fiiba’s innovation) that promotes long-term soil health.

Oxford Biopigments
Oxford Biopigments (OBP) mission is to solve key problems associated with sustainable textile dyeing. To this end we have developed a world first in plant-based, sustainable dyes: naturally lightfast dye molecules, modified to work without additional binding agents, that are easily blended to generate new colours and are compatible with existing dyeing machinery. Crucially, our dyes have equivalent technical performance to modern synthetic dyes without the harmful environmental impact.

PACT designs elegant biomaterials made in harmony with the planet Earth. We’re committed to helping the world’s most innovative companies dream without boundaries. Our first biomaterial Oval is inspired by generations of leather artisans and master craftspeople, Oval is a supple material made from collagen sourced from industrial by-products. It’s a highly scalable material that offers designers unparalleled flexibility whilst minimising environmental impacts across the entire production process.

Sequinova is a pioneering biomaterials company, revolutionising the textiles industry with cutting-edge biodegradable sequin materials. Plant-based, non-toxic, and available in a variety of colours and effects, we’ve partnered with the world’s leading manufacturers in Europe and Asia to deliver production-ready eco textiles at scale.

The Seam
The Seam delivers wardrobe care & repair at scale, pairing local, specialist Makers with people and brands to keep fashion out of landfill, and in the loop. The Seam is the fastest growing care and repair service in the UK powered by intelligent tech. Their network of specialists includes tailors, cobblers, leather restorers, knitwear menders, skewer cleaners, embroidery artists and so much more.

TRUSS is a London-based fashion technology SME focused on enhancing the second-hand fashion market through AI solutions and in-depth research. TRUSS aims to simplify the resale process through instant access to actionable data, removing the need for online research and manual data entry, while prioritising information and narratives.

Zori Tex
Zori Tex is a climate tech start-up on a mission to drive circularity in the hugely resource intensive fashion and textiles industry through innovative AI-powered technologies – combining machine vision and the latest deep learning networks to optimise the sorting and availability of complex non-reusable feedstocks, ready for closed loop recycling.

This year’s Manufacturing Futures prize will include:

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Inside the Launch of Manufacturing Futures 2024

Last week we celebrated the launch of Manufacturing Futures 2024 at a sold-out event at The Trampery.

Marking Fashion District’s sixth innovation challenge, this year the focus is on technological innovations and sustainable solutions that are solving any of the complex fashion manufacturing challenges facing the industry. Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, described the event as a gathering of individuals that share ‘the same ethos, values and ideas for the future of fashion and sustainability.’

GANNI: Fabrics of the Future

Kicking off the event was keynote speaker Lauren Bartley, Chief Sustainability Officer at GANNI, who gave insight into GANNI’s strategy and how they work with innovation. ‘GANNI has a very very ambitious goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2027,’ Lauren said. ‘The materials we use account for 50% of our carbon impact, making this our primary window of opportunity. It’s also where Ganni should focus as materials represent one of our most significant decarbonisation levers.’ 

Lauren also highlighted GANNI’s Fabrics of the Future initiative. ‘Fabrics of the Future is an internal research and development hub that scans the market for fabrics that will change the industry. At this point we’re working with thirty different material creators that have solutions or new innovations for materials. By 2025 the goal is that 10% of our materials should be coming from fabrics of the future.’ 

The Need for Partnership: Modern Synthesis x GANNI

One of the material creators GANNI have collaborated with is London-based biotech company Modern Synthesis. Lauren invited Jen Keane, CEO of Modern Synthesis, on stage to discuss their recent partnership.

Having developed a new class of biomaterials, Modern Synthesis works with bacteria to produce a type of non-woven textile that can be used to displace materials like leather, and in the future replace a wide variety of coated textiles. Modern Synthesis partnered with GANNI to reimagine their staple Bou Bag in their new innovative bacterial nanocellulose material. The handbag was unveiled at the London Design Festival 2023. 

Explaining why Modern Synthesis reached out to GANNI to propose a potential collaboration, Jen said, ‘As a startup that makes materials, we can’t do it all. We need to actually make the impact that we want to drive and so we have to get it into a product. We need brands and partners across the whole supply chain to make that possible. We contacted GANNI because they have such a strong perspective in this space and actually take action. Very few brands have innovation departments.’

Lauren rounded up the conversation by saying: ‘I hope that what you’ll take away from our talk today is that GANNI relies heavily on innovations like Modern Synthesis to meet our sustainability goals, and vice versa. Jen needs brands like GANNI to secure investment and effectively implement these technologies. It’s important not to underestimate the value of partnership.’’ 

Offering one final tip to the audience Jen said,Don’t give up! It’s hard but we’re gonna get there. My biggest advice is to collaborate as much as possible. You can’t do everything yourself. Figure out what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and find friends to do the things you’re not good at.’

Introduction to Manufacturing Futures 2024

Helen Lax then took to the stage to introduce this year’s innovation challenge, Manufacturing Futures 2024. ‘This year, we’re seeking innovative ideas, businesses, and startups that can benefit the fashion industry by offering sustainable solutions for various aspects of the supply chain.’

To be eligible for the challenge, applicants must have a tech-based solution, be a registered business, and either be operating in the UK or have plans to pilot or operate in the UK. The winner will take home £15,000, as well as receiving business support from PANGAIA, one-year complimentary UKFT membership, one-year workspace membership at The Trampery and one-year platform membership from Common Objective. The runners-up will receive £5,000 each, one-year UKFT membership and one-year platform membership from Common Objective. 

Finalists will attend a one-day event in May where high-level industry professionals will act as ‘critical friends’ to support and challenge their business proposition, and provide constructive feedback; as well as two Development Days focused around production and investment. Finalists will also be invited to join the celebratory Fashion District Innovation Awards and Investment Supper in July, attended by influential members of the fashion, tech and investment industry.

Meet The Judges

After running through the details of this year’s manufacturing challenge, it was time to hear from our incredible judging panel: Chelsea Franklin, Head of Advanced Concept Design, PANGAIA; Adam Mansell, CEO, UKFT; Gillian Lipton, Head of Sustainability, Alexander McQueen; Ella Gould, Head of Circularity and Innovation, Selfridges, and Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency, UAL: London College of Fashion.

Discussing their criteria for the challenge, Matthew Drinkwater said, ‘Above all, I want to feel excitement for an application that I’m reading. It’s that magical moment…you want to transform the innovation into a real thing.’

Ella Gould added, ‘I’m always sceptical when someone comes to me with big tech and they only talk about the technology. Come to me with a problem, tell me the problem that you’re solving or why you’re doing something better. That for me is when the juices start flowing and I get really inspired.’ 

Gillian Lipton stressed the importance of time. ‘For me it’s all about finding a solution that is scalable, but also that I don’t have to wait too long for. I’m aware that things take time, in terms of innovation and new materials, but we don’t have time!’ 

Adam Mansell stated the biggest problem for him was volume. ‘I love new materials, new materials are fantastic, but if someone came up with a concept that would allow us to take all the cotton, polyester, and wool that we use, capture it, recycle it, get it manufactured in the UK, that gets my vote. You’d get lifetime membership to UKFT if you can solve that! But genuinely that’s where the problem is. That’s where the focus really needs to be.’

Chelsea Franklin urged applicants to consider the customer. ‘Functionality is obviously very important in terms of innovation performance, but also understanding how to convince a consumer to buy something, such as an alternative fabric – why? If the price is so much more significant, why should they purchase it? How do you tell that story? Build that narrative?’

The event concluded with key advice from the judges. Matthew Drinkwater advised applicants to think about clarity of message. ‘What problem are you solving? Answer all of those questions fully and critically, and you stand a really good chance of getting through.’

Chelsea Franklin echoed this. ‘Articulating your vision is a skill in itself. We want to know what problem you’re solving, problem solution framing, and why we should care. If you can answer that clearly and visually that’s my top tip.’ 

‘Don’t bring me something that’s been done five years ago,’ Adam said. ‘Do your homework. Do proper market research. Also read the application questions carefully and answer them clearly. Look at the finances bit, because it’s really important that you’re thinking beyond the initial. Think about what the future looks like, and don’t tell me that you’re going to be a billion pound turnover company in five years time. It’s hard work. It takes a lot of effort and collaboration and that should not be why you’re in this space, you should be in this space to solve a problem.’

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to manufacture a new sustainable solution? Want to be in with a chance of winning £15,000? Applications for Manufacturing Futures 2024 are now open!

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Come to the launch of our new Innovation Challenge: Manufacturing Futures 2024

Thursday 8 Feb | 18:00 – 20:30
The Ballroom, The Trampery, 239 Old Street, London, EC1V 9EY

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our next innovation challenge Manufacturing Futures 2024, hosted in partnership with The Trampery, a purpose-led enterprise providing workspace, training and management for London’s trailblazing businesses. Join us on 8th February to find out more about next year’s challenge, hear from leading figures in fashion sustainability, and network with London’s fashion, tech and innovation communities.

To help us launch the challenge, we’ll be hearing from Lauren Bartley, Chief Sustainability Officer at GANNI and Jen Keane, CEO of Modern Synthesis, one of our Manufacturing Futures 2021 winners. Lauren will present a keynote on embedding innovative sustainable solutions into a large brand, followed by a discussion with Jen about how the GANNI x Modern Synthesis partnership came about.

Afterwards, we’ll launch next year’s challenge brief, followed by a ‘meet the judges’ panel, where attendees will get the opportunity to learn more about our judges and find out their criteria for selecting the winners. The evening will conclude with networking, drinks and nibbles.


About The Challenge

Fashion District’s annual Innovation Challenges are designed to find solutions to current industry issues, while supporting new innovations and SMEs. Next year, we’re running our second ‘Manufacturing Futures’ challenge, to support technological innovations and sustainable solutions which are solving any of the complex fashion manufacturing challenges facing the industry. This could include anything from:

We also seek to encourage tech solutions, perhaps from other sectors, that could be applied to fashion manufacturing and create interdisciplinary connections between technologists and engineers, and fashion creatives and manufacturers.

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


Manufacturing Futures 2024 brings together high-profile fashion, technology and sustainability experts committed to supporting the next wave of innovation. Come along to the launch to hear from our esteemed judging panel, including:

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

Design Futures 2022: Critical Friends Day

As part of the final stages of the Design Futures 2022 challenge, our shortlisted designers had the privilege of presenting their innovations to industry experts at our ‘Critical Friends Day.’ The day provided the finalists with the rare opportunity to receive critical feedback from specialists in various sectors to ensure their design concept is foolproof ahead of their final presentation to the judges.   

Each shortlisted designer had the opportunity to sit down with five different Critical Friends panels including: Business Planning, Marketing, Design Innovation, Production + Sourcing, and Use Phase + End of Life. The designers took the first few minutes to introduce and explain their concept in detail. Afterwards, the Critical Friends critiqued the proposed design innovation and gave feedback from the perspective of their specialist area. 

This part of the challenge is designed specifically to support our shortlist in the lead up to the final presentations, where they will showcase their design innovation and pitch to win. To be in with the best chance of winning, the panels were aligned to the key points of the Design Futures criteria so that the designers could develop their propositions using constructive feedback.

The Critical Friends have been selected for their expertise and experience across specialist areas, ensuring that the designers get well-rounded feedback in each session.

Read on below to see the full list of experts that took part. 

Alan Hunt – Head of Intellectual Property, Lewis Silkin
Tom Gaunt – Co-Founder of The Collective and Deputy Co-Head of Media and Entertainment Group, Lewis Silkin
Stuart Balmer – Principal of Financial Planning, Balmer Financial Planning
Sally Denton – Editor and Founder, HRE AFTA

Mafalda Oliveira – Business Engagement Lead, ReLondon
Emily Gordon-Smith – Content Director and Sustainability Lead, Stylus
Jen Charon – Co-Founder, LOANHOOD

Dagmar Grote – Partnership Manager, Fashion for Good
Marilyn Martinez – Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Chelsea Franklin – Senior Concept Designer, PANGAIA

Blake Sturgess – Senior Manager, Product Operations, PANGAIA
Andrew Yip – Head of Materials and Process Innovation, PANGAIA
Mikha Mekler – Lecturer in production manager, Ex-Head of Production at Raeburn

Anastasia Grenkova – Sustainability Manager, Oxwash
Rory Hugill – Materials Impact Manager, PANGAIA
Layla Sargent – Founder and CEO, The Seam

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all of the industry experts that provided invaluable feedback during the Critical Friends Day. We can’t wait to see the results at the final presentations in November.

Stay tuned for more Design Futures 2022 updates by following us on our social channels, or why not sign up to our much-loved monthly newsletter?

Design Futures Finalists Announced: Meet the designers advancing circular fashion in 2022

The Fashion District, in collaboration with London College of Fashion, UAL, is pleased to announce the shortlist of nine designers that could revolutionise the fashion industry.

Design Futures 2022 calls upon sustainably-driven designers and businesses to present new design solutions to prevent premature disposal, and extend the usage of products to help make a positive impact on the planet. It is focused on designers who are developing propositions for longevity, zero waste design, designing with waste, material cyclability, and regeneration.

Shortlisted designers are competing to win a cash prize of £15,000, donated by PANGAIA, one of the leading material science companies dedicated to tackling the climate crisis. The winner will also receive a development workshop with PANGAIA, plus ten consultancy hours with the company. The Trampery Fish Island Village will provide a one-year desk membership, alongside the Business of Fashion who is offering complementary professional membership, and Common Objective who will be providing a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing. The winner will also receive a brand new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines.

The shortlist was selected by our high-profile panel of leading sustainable and fashion experts: Craig Smith, Research and Development Director at PANGAIA; Shailja Dubé, Institute of Positive Fashion Lead, British Fashion Council; Sebastian Manes, Executive Director, Buying and Merchandising, Selfridges; Phoebe English, Designer; and Laetitia Frost, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Circular Design.

The 9 finalists are listed below:

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell is a London-based designer whose design practice aims to change the future of tailoring. His innovation integrates traditional tailoring techniques with sonic welding and taping technologies in a bid to transform the tailoring process. The result is a lightweight garment that is mono-material in its fabrication, allowing it to be easily reprocessed at the end-of-life stage.

Daniel Crabtree
Reimagining British tailoring, Daniel Crabtree offers handcrafted menswear staples that are progressive and built to endure. Each shape is drawn and cut freehand, generating unexpected fits and proportions that playfully embody the awkwardness of youth. His look is crafted from repurposed fabrics and materials to eliminate waste from development and production processes.

FibreLab empowers fashion businesses to implement circular practices throughout their supply chain by shredding their unwanted textiles and developing innovative ways to use them. Their look was designed with circularity in mind and explores key sustainability themes including hyper-local sourcing, modularity, and design for disassembly.

Nicci James
Having completed an MA in Fashion Knitwear at the Royal College of Art, designer Nicci James works with a design method that harnesses wool’s durability by using knitted structures to engineer strength into the garment. Her innovation uses the capabilities of wool without added interfacings, stabilisers, or linings, presenting a completely mono-material example of tailoring that is easier to reprocess.

Osmose Studio
Osmose Studio is an interdisciplinary design studio focused on regenerative circularity and sustainability in fashion, accessories, and homeware. Their innovation offers a new restorative and symbiotic clothing production model, where renewable fibres are combined with organic dyes, assisting the remediation of UK polluted land sites.

Savvas Alexander
Savvas Alexander is a designer and maker from Yorkshire whose design practice embodies the creation of meaningful clothing by enabling made-to-order systems that tackle overproduction and overconsumption. His innovation reduces garment processes and speeds up manufacture by sealing garment edges, and eliminating excess finishes and fastenings.

Skins of Earth
Plant-based luxury handbag brand Skins of Earth is on a mission to drive sustainable change. Paying homage to paleobiology, their designs evoke sculptural forms and are made entirely from natural rubber biomaterials that are grown as a live form using a low-energy incubation system; ensuring that all designs can be biodegradable after their life cycle.

WEFFAN x Liquid Editions
Weffan x Liquid Editions is a collaboration between 3D woven textile company Weffan and designer brand Liquid Editions. Together they have created a 3D woven, low-waste outfit that combines two manufacturing steps into one, merging the weaving of the fabric with the creation of the garment. This method considers the sustainability of everything in the production process and proposes a new way to decrease garment manufacture.

Y.A.N.G. (You Are the Next Generation)
Hailing from Chile, Y.A.N.G. has spent the last six years working as a designer and upcycler. Their innovation is a waste-minimising garment reconstruction method that will allow retailers to efficiently reconstruct or redesign their excess stock. This will ensure retailers cut out waste, extend the life of their products, and introduce garment remaking techniques.

Before pitching to the judges at an industry and investor supper in November 2022, the finalists will receive constructive feedback from high-level industry experts who will act as Critical Friends, in the areas of fashion design, business strategy, IP, production and circularity.

Helen Lax, Director, Fashion District said: “We are delighted to announce our shortlist of designers who have proposed nine innovations that could advance the field of circular design. This is our chance to work together, both within the industry and across other sectors, to bring circular design into public consciousness in a bid to tackle environmental issues and reshape the fashion industry.”

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest Design Futures news.

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!

Green Kids Studio: Activities for Little Eco Warriors

Are you looking for a fun way to introduce your kids to sustainability? Well, look no further! Bring your little eco warriors along to The Lab E20 on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June for FREE storytelling, puppet making and craft activities.

At the Green Kids Studio, not only will we be showcasing environmentally friendly products from leading kidswear brands, we’ll also be hosting a range of playful activities for your little eco warriors to get involved in throughout the weekend. Come along and have some fun at the following:

🐛 Pip & Henry’s Bug Hunt – Storytelling Activity (under 6 y/o)
Pip & Henry are scouting around their home, looking for the Naughty Bug that’s making everyone sick! Along the way they meet many other friendly bugs and creatures that reassure them that not all bugs are scary, how some bugs actually help the planet, and advise them on what to do next to stay safe. Can Pip & Henry send the Naughty Bug away and stop him coming back? 


🎨 Art Play London (under 12 y/o)
Art Play London is a creative space in London for children and adults to set their imaginations free with a strong focus on the environment and sustainable materials.

Throughout the weekend they’ll be running workshops that will help kids understand environmental concerns through art, including Eco Warriors Art and Craft that will offer children the chance to use recycled resources to create a piece of artwork to take home, as well as helping to create a collaborative mosaic using recycled materials.

In The Naughty Bug Puppet Theatre, children will also be able to make naughty bug puppets out of recycled materials and then stage their own miniature plays in a handmade theatre, made of abandoned and repurposed wood. 


🖍️ Community Couture (all ages)
Community Couture combines bespoke slow fashion principles with traditions of storytelling through textiles.

Their drop-in craft sessions will give young people the opportunity to reflect on the issues facing the world and the role that they can play in it, by encouraging them to get creative through illustration and collage. There will be a big cardboard canvas for you to fill with shapes and pictures that show us how to help the planet.

These unique artworks will then be translated into textile weaves and made into a piece of children’s clothing that will later be available to rent. 

Drop-in anytime over the weekend! No booking necessary.

Mark it down in your diaries because this is a pop-up you do not want to miss! We can’t wait to see you there!

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more upcoming brand and activity announcements in the coming weeks! We can’t wait to see you there.

Apply Now: The Backroom Pitch!

Applications for The Backroom Pitch are now closed.

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.

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 Judge: Phoebe English

In the lead up to our Design Futures 2022 application deadline, we sat down with renowned sustainable womenswear designer, Phoebe English, to talk about her circular design practice and what she’s looking for in this year’s applications.

“I’m hoping to see something that we haven’t come across or thought of before,” Phoebe English, founder of her eponymous label and Design Futures judge, says of this year’s Fashion District challenge. “The current systems that fashion operates within don’t align with the future of the planet. So I’m excited to see creative new visions of alternative systems and approaches we can be approaching and working towards.”

Phoebe English would know, after all she’s created an alternative system of her own. Having founded her label in 2011, the British-born fashion designer creates pieces with close attention to quality and craftsmanship, which in an age of ‘fast’ fashion has made her a leader among peers. Reducing negative environmental impact has always been at the top of Phoebe’s agenda, and all of her production is made in London – from sketch to garment – to minimise her label’s footprint. A dynamic thinker with a careful, considered approach, Phoebe is on an ever-evolving search to better her practices, making her the perfect judge for this year’s innovation challenge which is focused on design for circularity. 

As the Design Futures 2022 deadline approaches, she talks us through her advice to applicants, her thoughts on designing in the current climate, and her own circular initiatives. 

What piece of advice would you give to sustainable designers and brands entering the challenge?

“To keep their minds open to things which are both possible and achievable now, with the current things that are available but also to take into consideration “big blue sky” thinking of what could be possible if other infrastructures were available in the future. Also to keep in mind that it is never possible to “win” at sustainability, we can only propose many solutions for the varied pressing issues that we face.”

Expanding upon what you mentioned at our Design Futures 2022 launch, what is the place of designers in a time when we’re physically drowning in stuff?

“The place of designers in a time when we’re physically drowning in stuff, is that we need to work doubly hard, not only do we need to be thinking about our design work but we need to be carefully considering the external factors that every design decision we make implicates and effects both planetary and socially.”

You mentioned that it’s important to think carefully when it comes to production and designing. How do you consider such big decisions?

“Design is always collaborative, you can’t design in isolation. Every design is a collaboration with materials and people. Design does not exist in a vacuum.”

What sustainable/circular initiatives are you currently implementing in your company?

“We’ve been trying to explore and trial as many different approaches towards a circular approach as we can over the past couple of years at the studio, such as the reuse of our own waste, the reuse of other commercial waste, designing “out” waste from the design stage, considering and reducing the chemical content of our clothing through natural dyes, and most recently we have explored how we can develop bioregional agricultural regenerative practices.”

Apply for Design Futures 2022 now! Find out more here:

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

Green Kids Studio: A Sustainable Children’s Fashion Pop-Up

Join us on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June at The Lab E20 to pick up conscious products for your little ones from leading sustainable kidswear brands.

We’re delighted to announce that we will be curating a sustainable children’s pop-up at The Lab E20 from the 25th – 26th June.

Our very own Green Kids Studio will demonstrate ways that parents and families can engage with sustainable fashion. Come along and check out functional, fun and environmentally friendly products from leading kidswear brands and meet the lovely, passionate people behind the designs.

Looking for playful activities for your little eco warrior? Storytelling sessions and art play workshops will also be offered throughout the weekend and Community Couture will be hosting drop-in craft sessions.

Find out more and book.

For anyone looking for a sustainable solution to their children’s outgrown clothing, visit our clothes swap with Verte Mini on Sunday 26 June, 10AM – 1PM! Bring along up to 15 items of boys or girls clothes (up to 12 y/o). Focus on quality rather than quantity – anything you’d be happy to take home or for your kids to continue wearing should it fit them. If you don’t have anything to swap, this is a great opportunity to buy second hand clothing for your children.

Feeling extra organised? Drop off your children’s clothes on Saturday 25 June and we’ll get them prepped for the swap on Sunday.

Register your interest today!

Spread across an entire weekend, the Green Kids Studio will feature a carefully curated selection of sustainable children’s brands, including:

Bundlee is the UK’s first rental service for baby clothes. A great way to get amazing quality clothes at a fraction of the price – you can rent from some of our favourite brands including MORI, Mini Rodini, Patagonia and more. With sustainability at the core, Bundlee want to provide a better alternative for parents. Clothes that are returned are professionally cleaned and sanitised before being shared with the next renting family.

dotte is more than a marketplace – they are a movement that won’t accept style at the cost of the planet. They’re opening up thousands of children’s wardrobes with their family-to-family marketplace; a simple one-stop-shop where parents can buy, sell, donate and recycle outgrown children’s clothing. A full circle remedy to the fastest area of fashion, dotte go beyond peer-to-peer buying and selling by offering their community donation and recycling options too.

The team at dotte believe that together we can slow fashion down, make every stitch count, and love every fibre of the fabric. And with their curated edits, style discovery and resale collective (featuring perks and discounts on some of your favourite kidswear brands), they make shopping secondhand feel like new. dotte invite you all to join them on the journey.

VANDALKIDS is a new brand of kidswear offering high quality practical and comfortable gear for children aged 3 to 10 without compromising on style. Created by ex-brand director and mother Kat Vandal, VANDALKIDS has been designed to encourage kids’ creativity and self-expression whilst incorporating parent-friendly features to help the clothes last and reduce their impact on the planet.

Petit Pli
Made up of a team of engineers, scientists and designers, Petit Pli makes products that help people – and the planet. Their clothing philosophy: They invent clothes that grow. These items fit for years, not months. Petit Pli garments are beautiful and innovative, using the highest-quality materials, construction and best- in-class ethical supply chains.

Pip & Henry
Pip and Henry make beautifully designed, vibrant shoes for children, with the environment in mind – using recycled materials and plant-based fibres. 

Verte London
Verte is a London founded, clothes swapping company, who exist to help people update their wardrobe without having a negative impact on the planet. Now they want to try and combat both of these things and extend the lifespan of children’s clothing, by hosting a clothes swap for children.

Sunday 26 June | 10:00 – 13:00

Boy Wonder
Boy Wonder is a boy’s fashion brand that is playful and positive. With organic cotton and chemical-free prints parents can feel happy knowing they are safe and earth-friendly. Boy Wonder garments are made ethically with love in Britain giving them a super low fashion footprint. 

By Kala x
By Kala X was created to bring a love of African print material to a wider audience. From eye-catching designs to bold and beautiful colours, guaranteed to make your little one stand out, all items are handmade by mum-of-two Kala.

Zupcycled aims to inspire people and brands about upcycling, reusing, reclaiming and repurposing, to help save the planet for our kids. Their materials are collected from brand collaboration projects and leftovers saved from textile factories. Zupcycled offers upcycling art and craft kits that provide an eco-friendly and sustainable activity for rainy weekends, school breaks, birthday parties or corporate events.

Activities for children will also run throughout the weekend, including Pip & Henry’s Bug hunt – a unique storytelling activity featuring a very Naughty Bug that’s making everyone sick! Alongside this, Art Play London will be offering workshops for little ones, and Community Couture will be running drop-in craft-sessions on both days, offering children the chance to get creative and take something home. 

Learn more about our activities and book your place here!

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more upcoming brand and activity announcements in the coming weeks! We can’t wait to see you there.