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Evo Fashion: Cohort One Announced!

As we anticipate the arrival of Spring, we’re gearing up for new opportunities, and one that we’re most looking forward to at Fashion District is our Evo Fashion Programme.

This comprehensive five-month experiential programme caters to emerging brands and fashion technology ventures. After calling for applications throughout December and January, we’re now thrilled to unveil the first businesses selected for the programme.

What is Evo Fashion?

With a holistic approach to business strategy, the Evo Fashion programme focuses on supply chain sustainability, ethical working standards, market channels, and investment readiness. Activities include a two-day intensive launchpad, masterclasses, and peer-to-peer learning, designed to accommodate work commitments and culminate in an industry showcase. Co-delivered by Fashion District and Evo Learning, Evo Fashion will run twice, with the first programme tailored for emerging designers and fashion brands, and the second programme spotlighting fashion technology businesses.

Evo Fashion is part of the Grow London Early Stage programme, powered by London & Partners – a business support programme for early-stage growth companies active in high growth sectors that support sustainable and inclusive growth in London. The programme is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Meet the Selection Panel

With an esteemed selection panel of industry leaders, including Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District; Charles Armstrong, Founder and CEO of Evo Learning and The Trampery; Vanessa Podmore, Founder of Podmore Consulting; Bianca Saunders, Founder, Creative Director, and Designer of Bianca Saunders; and Yvie Hutton, Director of Designer Relations & Membership at the British Fashion Council, each member was strategically chosen for their unique expertise. 

Bianca brings invaluable experience in fashion brand development, while Yvie has a rich background in nurturing emerging designers within the BFC community. Vanessa’s expertise lies in fashion sustainability. Together, the panel’s collective insight enabled them to assess applicants’ potential for business success and their commitment to integrating sustainability into their ventures. 

The panel convened at The Trampery Fish Island Village in early February to meticulously review each submission, individually score the applications, and select the inaugural cohort of successful businesses for the programme.

Introducing the Inaugural Cohort

After much deliberation, here are the sixteen businesses selected for the first Evo Fashion programme: 

ANCIELA

ANCIELA is a London-based sustainable luxury womenswear label that blends South American folklore with an outsider’s perspective living in London, offering experimental tailoring and Ready-To-Wear pieces inspired by art, literature and historical costumes. Committed to sustainability, the brand champions hand-crafted designs and supports Latinx creatives, showcasing cultural diversity through fashion.

Asmuss

Asmuss, founded by sisters Clare and Fiona, crafts ethically and environmentally responsible garments for the modern active woman, blending innovation and nature to design versatile, sustainable pieces. Committed to inclusivity and ethical production, Asmuss offers technically intelligent, renewable fabrics and season-less silhouettes, all made in the UK by social enterprise Making for Change or co-founder Clare, ensuring kindness to both body and planet.

BEEN LONDON

Hailed as ‘one of the most innovative fashion brands in the world’ by British Vogue, BEEN LONDON creates versatile, timeless accessories from discarded materials, challenging fashion sustainability norms. Founded by ex-BBC journalist Genia Mineeva in 2018, the brand’s mission is to divert waste from landfill, crafting beautiful, high-quality products with minimal environmental footprint. 

Clara Chu

Clara Chu, founded by London-based multidisciplinary artist and designer Clara Chu, specialises in redefining fashion accessories. Through a unique blend of everyday mundanity and vibrant pop art, the brand transforms overlooked items like mops, toasters, and toothbrushes into wearable accessories. Merging mass production with hand-craftsmanship, Clara’s visionary products challenge conventional fashion norms, blurring boundaries between high and low culture while highlighting the importance of community involvement in creating a sustainable fashion ecosystem.

Colèchi

Colèchi is a research and events agency dedicated to advancing sustainable development in the fashion industry by working to humanise clothing through curation, workshops, and insight. Collaborating with a collective spanning growers, weavers, designers, and recyclers, they deliver research projects, curate events, and are currently expanding their product range, which includes their debut print journal AGREENCULTURE and a forthcoming capsule collection featuring UK alpaca wool.

Everyday Phenomenal

Everyday Phenomenal is a sustainable womenswear brand based in London that harmonises style and comfort with the ethos of wellbeing and mindfulness. Their collections feature essential wardrobe staples crafted with quality, accessibility, and empowerment in mind, inviting women to embrace their best selves. Each garment is paired with a QR code linked to their wellness hub, “THE CIRCLE OF FEELING GOOD,” promoting mindfulness and holistic wellness.

Fashion Meets Music

Fashion Meets Music is a community interest company led by Lizzy Lambie and Dennica Abdo, based in the Croydon Creatives zone, that transforms unused spaces into vibrant retail and event experiences. They fuse runway shows, live music acts, art, pop-up vendors, and networking to engage underrepresented communities in enterprise, education, and employment while offering end-to-end guidance and support for individuals or brands aiming to elevate their ideas and dreams.

Isla de Gar

Isla de Gar is a slow fashion handbag brand founded in 2020 by award-winning designer Emma Garner that infuses joy, togetherness, warmth, and humanity into its sculptural, tactile creations. Handmade to order in their London studio, each piece is inspired by the natural world and invites wearers to a realm where art is wearable and happiness knows no bounds.

Kyle Ho

Kyle Ho is a luxury menswear brand dedicated to elevating traditional tailoring through intricate details and a revolutionary design philosophy, with an eco-conscious, made-to-order business model. Operating on a pre-order system, each custom-made item significantly reduces environmental impact and resource usage, while sourcing materials from local UK vendors supports local merchants while reducing the carbon footprint. 

Mirla Beane

Mirla Beane is an ethical brand offering inclusive prices and sizing, supporting the next generation of designers while delivering sophisticated yet fun, sustainable designs with bold prints and pops of colour. Named after their children and grandchildren, each piece is made with care, ensuring uniqueness and kindness to the planet through small production runs and attention to sustainable and ethical accreditation of fabrics and makers.

NEW STANDARD

NEW STANDARD footwear embodies sustainability as the standard, drawing inspiration from Joe Strummer’s ethos of rejecting substandard quality for a better world. With a focus on longevity, high quality, and timeless design, each pair is crafted using non-plastic materials and durable construction techniques, ensuring minimal environmental impact and a timeless aesthetic that complements any capsule wardrobe. Situated in Hackney, London’s historical shoe-making hub, their expertise, honed through designing for renowned figures and legends in various fields, ensures a deep understanding of footwear craftsmanship.

OMNISS

OMNISS, an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand rooted in character-driven storytelling, is based at the heart of London’s Fashion District in Hackney Wick. Founded by Asya Ter-Hovakimyan and Francisco Zhou, their commitment to transparency in the supply chain and collaboration with women-led small enterprises in Armenia honours craftsmanship while creating products that transcend conventional demographics, designed for dreamers, zeitgeists, and visionaries. The brand has earned recognition at London Fashion Week and in notable publications like Forbes and Drapers. 

Percy Langley

Percy Langley offers beautiful clothing for real women from a collective of independent designers championing the slow fashion movement, showcasing seasonal edits that embody a modern British aesthetic with investment pieces designed to endure and British-made garments renowned for superior quality. With a focus on sustainability and conscientious consumerism, they empower customers to make informed and responsible buying decisions while supporting designers dedicated to slowing down clothing production and prioritising eco-conscious practices.

Pomi and Seeds

Pomi and Seeds revolutionises lingerie by offering sustainably made, inclusive, and empowering solutions for women using design thinking, technology, and circularity approaches. Recognising the dissatisfaction with conventional offerings, Pomi and Seeds meets this demand with a diverse product line, featuring lingerie made from sustainable fibres and catering to cup sizes DD+ and up to size 24. Beyond comfortable and ethical lingerie, they prioritise diversity, inclusion, and global initiatives that empower women and promote social impact, envisioning a transformative future for the industry.

ZERØ London

ZERØ London creates quality menswear using innovative zero waste design techniques, reducing fabric waste by up to 15% compared to traditional methods and aligning with the UK’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. Motivated by the 60 billion square metres of fabric wasted through the cutting process annually, the brand is on a mission to end fashion waste. Their products are internationally available and proudly crafted in London, employing a local supply chain to ensure accountability and minimal carbon impact.


Want to stay informed about the latest developments in the Evo Fashion programme? Subscribe to the Evo Fashion newsletter: 

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.

Agenda:

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.


MEET OUR JUDGES

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!

Evo Fashion Launch at The Trampery, Fish Island Village

Last week we launched Evo Fashion, our free five-month business support programme that will be running throughout 2024.

Taking place at The Trampery Fish Island Village, the event offered attendees the chance to hear from industry experts, learn more about the Evo Fashion programme and network with London’s sustainable fashion community over drinks and delicious canapés from Palm Greens.

Speaking to the crowd, Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, said ‘We are looking forward to the next evolution of fashion and the power of fashion designers and fashion technology businesses who are thinking about embedding sustainability into all of their business practices.’

The programme, which is part of the Grow London Early Stage programme by London & Partners, and funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, is designed to help early stage fashion businesses drive growth and integrate sustainability into every aspect of their businesses.

Image credit: Christian Sinibaldi

Evo Fashion in Action

Kicking off the event, Safia Minney, Founder of Fashion Declares, took to the stage with Debbie Luffman, Director of Think Circular, and Ngoni Chikwenengere, Founder of We Are KIN, for the ‘Evo Fashion in Action’ conversation. 

Giving context to the need for sustainable innovations, Safia spoke about fashion’s impact on climate ecosystems. ‘We all know that overconsumption is driving a desperate situation. Currently, five percent of greenhouse gas emissions are said to be produced by the fashion and textile industry. That’s set to increase to twenty-five percent by 2050. We can’t let that happen. Fashion needs to move now.’ 

Talking about the ethical and sustainable practices she uses in her clothing brand, We Are KIN, Ngoni Chikwenengere told the audience, ‘One of the first things I wrote down when writing my business plan was my mission statement: ‘people and planet over profit.’ That’s my ethos and it’s what the entire brand is built on.’ Since launching five years ago, Ngoni is still staying true to her brand’s message with all of her clothes being manufactured in East London. ‘I want to know exactly what’s going on so I often drop by the factory because I want to see the conditions people are working in. The people who work there are paid a living wage, they look happy and the environment is clean. In terms of the fabrics, the cotton, linen, and wool are all sourced in the UK. We also use deadstock fabrics.’ 

When asked for her tips on securing deadstock fabric, Ngoni said, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s important to talk to people and ask lots of questions.’ 

Debbie Luffman, Director of Think Circular, echoed the same sentiment. ‘To become fully sustainable as a brand you have to ask questions and refuse to settle for anything less.’ 

‘Change in our industry needs to be louder, because the larger organisations are listening – they really are well aware of the issues – but it can be harder for them to change. That’s why I say don’t rush to be a professional outfit too soon. This is your moment to get things right from the beginning stages of your brand and think about embedding sustainability into every aspect of your business, which many big brands are struggling with now.’ 

Afterwards the floor opened to questions, with one audience member asking whether consumers were ready for change. ‘Consumers are definitely ready,’ Ngoni said. ‘Shoppers love being at the forefront of innovation. If someone is offering you something new, shiny and sustainable or the same old thing, we all know we would choose the first option. Last November, I sold 800 units in one month, all made to order. The demand is there.’  

Debbie said, ‘I think you have to think about the way you make your customer feel. I’m not sure if they care about fabric if I’m really honest with you, but how does it make them feel? Your job is storytelling. Tell the story. Where did it come from? What’s the provenance? What’s it going to do for them? That’s the narrative.’ 

Another audience member asked whether the panel thought there was competition between small sustainable fashion brands which creates contradiction when setting out to build a better planet. ‘If you share the same value models then you shouldn’t be in competition,’ Debbie answered. ‘In my opinion, IP doesn’t make sense anymore. We should have open source material that’s shared and serves each other. Different brand identities is the creative difference. I think we need to unpack the word ‘sustainable’ and have that open source collaborative mentality to break down those boundaries. You need to build opportunities where you both win.’ 

Introduction to Evo Fashion

Next up, Helen Lax took to the stage to present a comprehensive overview of the Evo Fashion programme. ‘There will be two programmes running throughout the year,’ explained Helen, ‘the first for fashion designers and the second for fashion technology businesses. Both are tailored to support innovation across the different subsectors of fashion.’ 

Designed to fit in with work commitments and delivered by experts, the programme will consist of a two-day intensive launchpad and four full-day masterclasses which will focus on different aspects of learning, including environmental and social governance, exploring new business models, production and innovation, sustainable growth and investment, finance and business planning, and founder wellbeing, leadership and impactful teams. Peppered in amongst the sessions and masterclasses, there will also be panels and talks, a 1-2-1 business diagnostic, three peer-to-peer learning workshops, a creative photoshoot, and the chance to present your brand at Fashion District’s Manufacturing Futures 2024 Industry Showcase to a room full of investors, brands, startups and innovators. 

‘In terms of eligibility, you must be a registered business based in London. You must employ 2-5 people and you must have been trading for 18 months,’ said Helen. ‘We have to be able to tell from the application that you want to grow. By this I mean, growing to the scale that you want to grow to in the way that you want to grow. We want to see that you’ve got the ambition to make your business work and succeed sustainably and financially.’ 

With an incredible selection panel for the first cohort, including Vanessa Podmore, Founder of Podmore Consulting; Yvie Hutton, Director of Design Relations and Membership at the British Fashion Council; Charles Armstrong, CEO of The Trampery, and Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, applications opened last Wednesday and will close at midnight on 18th January 2024

Closing the event, Deborah Latouche, founder of luxury modest wear brand SABIRAH, joined Helen on stage to discuss her experience of our previous sustainable accelerator programme. ‘Despite being held during the pandemic, the programme was really great,’ said Deborah. ‘It solidified for me a lot of the things I was already thinking about. I had always questioned the wholesale model, and so after doing the course I knew it was right for my brand to continue being demi-couture – made to order, made to measure. The fabrics are also all predominately end of life too.’ 

Speaking about her experience with Vanessa Podmore, who will be one of the Evo Fashion mentors next year, Deborah said, ‘My 1-2-1 masterclass with Vanessa was mind-blowing. She has a world of knowledge and I definitely think the course is well worth applying for.’

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Applications for Evo Fashion are now open!

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All images by Christian Sinibaldi

Fashion District Festival Returns for 2023!

The Fashion District Festival is making a highly anticipated return for its second iteration at Spitalfields from 11-16 July 2023. 

Taking over the vibrant east London destination, the six-day festival will be a celebration of fashion, sustainability, innovation, and community. Featuring over 40 events, including pop-ups, swap shops, styling masterclasses, upcycling workshops, and interactive experiences, visitors will have the chance to explore, learn, create, and network with leading conscious brands and digital fashion businesses.  

This year’s festival covers four themes — WATCH, SHOP, MAKE, and GROW

The Fashion District Festival will kick off on Tuesday 11 July. As part of the WATCH programme, the launch show, curated by Lee Lapthorne from On|Off and AGRO Studio, will introduce some of London’s most promising emerging designers, combining physical and digital installations, to create a truly unforgettable experience. The week will see further digital showcases and styling events from charity partner Give Your Best.

The SHOP series will feature a collaborative retail pop-up located in a brand-new building at Number 1 Lamb St in Spitalfields – the first event to take place in the contemporary building designed by Foster + Partners. Featuring emerging and planet-positive designers and start-ups, the brands on show specialise in preloved, swapped, rented, and upcycled fashion, such as The Alterist, Loanhood, The Cirkel, Verte London, Circular Threads and The Seam.

SHOP events:

The MAKE space offers a diverse program of interactive events and workshops for all ages, encouraging participants to explore sustainability and innovation in fashion via the three Rs: Repair, Reuse, and Recycle.

MAKE talks and workshops:

The GROW programme is dedicated to supporting fashion start-ups and SMEs through a series of roundtables, talks, and workshops that delve into the ideas and innovations driving change within the industry, including themes such as the circular economy, regenerative materials, digital fashion, design for the metaverse, early-stage investment and more. 

GROW talks and workshops:

Jason Dervin, General Estate Manager at The Spitalfields Estate, says, “We are proud to host the ever-inspiring Fashion District Festival and donate four spaces for the events in our newly created units and basement studio space. Celebrating and supporting multiple sustainable start-ups, emerging talent and brands in this dynamic way sits perfectly alongside our existing retail and F&B operators, and we hope to see everyone at the Festival in Spitalfields this July.”Bookings are now open! Don’t miss your chance to secure a spot at each of the incredible events – click here to see the lineup so far. Stay tuned for more event announcements and exciting speakers coming soon!

Bookings are now open! Don’t miss your chance to secure a spot at each of the incredible events – click the button below to see the lineup so far.

Follow our socials to stay tuned for more event announcements and exciting speakers coming soon!

PANGAIA and Fashion District announce winner of Design Futures Innovation Prize

Last night we announced the winner of Design Futures 2022, supported by PANGAIA, at an Awards Supper at The Conduit in Covent Garden. Graysha Audren was announced as the winner for Weffan x Liquid Editions, a collaborative project that culminated in 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.

The runners-up were Osmose Studio, creators of a new restorative and symbiotic clothing production model, where renewable fibres are combined with organic dyes, assisting the remediation of UK polluted land sites; and Nicci James, who uses the capabilities of wool combined with knitted structures to engineer strength into her garments without added interfacings, stabilisers, or linings, presenting a completely mono-material tailoring that is easier to reprocess.

Donated by PANGAIA, Weffan x Liquid Editions will receive a cash prize of £15,000, alongside ten consultancy hours with the brand, a new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines, one-year desk membership from The Trampery Fish Island Village, and a 12-month business membership from Common Objective, with global connections, premium  intelligence, and courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing.

The runners-up receive a cash prize of £5,000 each, donated by PANGAIA, and all three award winners will receive complementary professional membership of Business of Fashion.

Fashion District and London College of Fashion, UAL partnered with PANGAIA to call upon sustainably-driven designers and businesses to present new circular design solutions. Design Futures 2022 challenged designers to develop ways to help longevity, zero waste, designing with waste, material cyclability, and regeneration.

Craig Smith, Research and Development Director of PANGAIA, said:

“PANGAIA is delighted to support the Design Futures 2022 winning designers. In trying to find solutions to our industry’s challenges it’s important for us collaborate and connect with creatives at various stages of the commercialisation journey. The design futures prize is a great showcase of early stage approaches to circular design and each of the winners has the potential to make a real difference in the fashion industry with their innovations.”

Nine designers were shortlisted for their creativity, originality and circular design thinking, as well as the potential for their innovation to be marketed and scaled.

The winners were selected by our high-profile panel of leading sustainability and fashion experts: Craig Smith, PANGAIA; Shailja Dubé, Institute of Positive Fashion, British Fashion Council; Lee Lapthorne, On|Off; Catriona Woolner-Winders, Selfridges; Phoebe English, Designer; and Laetitia Forst, Centre for Circular Design.

Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, said:

“Design Futures 2022 has demonstrated the extraordinary breadth of talent we have here in the UK. We have a real opportunity to use this momentum to advance the field of circular design, both within the industry and across other sectors, to help make a positive impact on the planet and change the fashion industry for good.”

Those shortlisted included:

Andrew Bell
Integrating traditional tailoring techniques with sonic welding and taping technologies Andrew created a lightweight garment that is mono-material, allowing it to be easily reprocessed at the end-of-life stage.

Daniel Crabtree
Reimagining British tailoring, Daniel Crabtree offers menswear staples built to endure and crafted from repurposed fabrics and materials to eliminate waste from development and production processes.

FibreLab
FibreLab assists fashion businesses to implement circular practices by shredding their unwanted textiles and developing innovative ways to use them. Their look explores sustainability through hyper-local sourcing, modularity, and design for disassembly.

Nicci James
Using knitted structures to engineer strength into the garment Nicci’s innovation uses the capabilities of wool without added interfacings, stabilisers, or linings, presenting a completely mono-material tailoring that is easier to reprocess.

Savvas Alexander
Enabling made-to-order systems that tackle overproduction and overconsumption Savvas’ innovation reduces garment processes and speeds up manufacture by sealing garment edges, and eliminating excess finishes and fastenings.

Skins of Earth
Skins of Earth is a plant-based luxury handbag brand with sculptural designs from  paleobiology. Made from natural rubber biomaterials that are grown as a live form using a low-energy incubation system designs can be biodegradable after their life cycle.

Y.A.N.G. (You Are the Next Generation)
Y.A.N.G. minimises waste through a method of garment reconstruction that allows retailers to efficiently reconstruct or redesign their excess stock. This will help them cut out waste, extend the life of their products, and introduce garment remaking techniques.

Shailja Dube, Institute of Positive Fashion Lead, British Fashion Council said:

“By disrupting the status quo and future-thinking the circular design needs of the industry, the designers have produced innovations that challenge mainstream fashion systems”.


About PANGAIA:

PANGAIA is a direct-to-consumer materials science brand on a mission to save the environment. We are a global collective of one heart and many hands — scientists, technologists, designers — creating essential products from innovative and bio-engineered materials. We are starting a movement — Designing a better future.

To learn more, head to https://pangaia.com/

About The Trampery:

The Trampery is a purpose-led enterprise that provides workspaces and training for businesses; plus advisory services for governments and landowners.

Since 2015 The Trampery has been delivering dedicated support for the fashion sector. Initially through its renowned London Fields workspace, and more recently The Trampery Fish Island Village and Poplar Works, which offer a total of 70,000 square feet of dedicated space for start-up and scale-up fashion businesses with a state-of-the-art campus and mix of affordable workspaces, co-working, manufacturing and showcasing facilities.

Find out more at https://thetrampery.com/

About Anglo American Sewing Machines:

Anglo American Sewing Machines are a leading global supplier of industrial sewing machines, also supplying domestic sewing machines, and industrial ironing equipment. They also offer an exclusive  service. Which includes maintenance, repairs, and a rental service for short to long term rentals. Based in East London they are a family business who have supplied the textile industry since 1960.

Check out their services at https://www.anglosewing.co.uk/

About Common Objective:

Common Objective (CO) is the global industry platform for sustainable fashion. CO’s 50,000+ members include representatives from luxury brands, global corporates and sustainability pioneers.

CO’s database of over 300 resources and tools supports fashion professionals to make sustainable and ethical choices easily, affordably, and with confidence. CO’s technology matches users with sustainable suppliers, intelligence, tools, and training to support best practice, and increases the profile of the most sustainable businesses, giving them more visibility, customers, and sales.

For more information, visit https://www.commonobjective.co/


Are you an innovative start-up, SME or entrepreneur? We have plenty of events and opportunities to support your business! Sign up to our newsletter or follow our social channels to keep up-to-date:

The Backroom Pitch: Connecting Innovators and Investors

Last month we hosted The Backroom Pitch at the Hyatt Regency London Stratford to give ten startups the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of investors, including VCs, angels, crowdfunding platforms and more, all interested in new sustainable solutions.

The diverse line-up of investors were looking for businesses focused on any part of the fashion value chain that could help the fashion industry become more circular, sustainable, and ethical. In between pitching, the ten businesses had the chance to network with other founders, innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Watch the video below to find out more about the businesses and investors who took part.


START UPS

Set up to support new startups, The Backroom Pitch gave the diverse array of businesses a unique chance to meet investors, share ideas, network, and learn about  the current market. The ten fashion and fashion tech startups selected to pitch were:

Bundlee
Bundlee is the UK’s first rental subscription for baby and toddler clothes.

Unhidden
Unhidden is a socially responsible fashion brand for disabled and non-disabled people.

Humanity Centred Designs
Humanity Centred Designs is a material innovation hub that transforms textile waste from manufacturing factories into recycled materials.

Pattern Project
Pattern Project is a South London micro-factory that makes local, Made-to-Order production more cost-effective.

Compare Ethics
Compare Ethics is an AI platform that enables companies to manage, verify and confidently communicate responsible business claims at scale.

Pip and Henry
Pip and Henry is a sustainable footwear brand producing stylish, high-quality shoes for children.

Astra
Astra is a virtual fashion experience where you can compete to win digital fashion NFTs. 

SwatchEditor
SwatchEditor is a 3D visualisation browser-based tool that easily converts 2D images onto digital flowing fabric and 3D Assets.

SAGES
SAGES makes high-quality natural dyes from food waste as an environmentally-friendly alternative to synthetic dyes used in the industry.

AMPHIBIO LTD
AMPHITEX is a 100% recyclable waterproof breathable textile developed for the sportswear and outdoor-wear industry as an alternative to Gore-Tex.


INVESTORS

With thanks to all of the investors on our panel, including:
Dama Sathianathan, Bethnal Green Ventures
Leo Chandler, Nesta
Irene Maffini, Alma Angels / PDS Ventures 
Aarthi Thangavel, TRUE
Shruti Iyengar, Sustainable Ventures
Diarra Smith, Investment Consultant
Sriya Sundaresan (Angel Investor)
Alex Shapiro, The Conduit Connect
Gabrielle Swycher, Redrice Ventures
Lilac Watt, Venrex
Agata Bendik, Plug and Play
Tim O’Callaghan, Crowdcube
Oliver Hammond, Fuel Ventures
Namratha Kothapalli, Speedinvest


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Launching today: The Regenerative Fashion Hub

We are thrilled to announce that The Textiles Circularity Centre will be taking over The Lab E20 with the launch of The Regenerative Fashion Hub

What?
The Regenerative Fashion Hub is a 6-week exhibition showcase documenting the journey of biowaste –  from source of waste to the consumption of apparel. Featuring research studies, seminars, and ‘open house’ sessions, the event breaks down academic research into sustainable textiles in a creative, accessible way to open up conversations with the public, industry, NGOs, and the government.

Who? 
The UKRI Interdisciplinary Textiles Circularity Centre (TCC) – funded by the UK Research & Innovation National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme – is undertaking fundamental research into a circular textiles economy for the UK fashion industry. It is an academic consortium led by the Royal College of Art  and includes Cranfield University, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, University College London, and University of York. 

Why?
Research in the TCC will help them propose an alternative model for apparel-fashion that will reduce the consumption of materials resources and associated pollution, and grow wellbeing. The Regenerative Fashion Hub is a chance to engage with the public about their research and findings. 

Where?
The showcase will be open to visitors to experience the journey of the biowaste resource flow and talk to the research team. There is no need to book, just turn up.

Opening times:

Location: The Lab E20, 3-4 East Park Walk, East Village, London, E20 1JB

If you’re passionate about sustainable textiles, then don’t miss out on this landmark showcase! For more information about the hub, head to the link below.


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Sign up today: The Circular Economy Roundtable Discussions

Green Business Network: The Circular Economy
2nd November 2022 | 6pm-9pm
Orford House 73 Orford Road, London, E17 9QR

The Fashion District is delighted to announce that we have teamed up with the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Green Business Network and Waltham Forest Fashion to host a free evening event on November 2nd, exploring conversations around the circular economy. 

If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, join us to learn more about circularity and how it can benefit your business while also helping to tackle global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. 

Arranged in partnership with The Green Business Network – who provide opportunities for businesses to learn how they can improve their environmental performance – the evening will feature a series of presentations from guest speakers, roundtable discussions, and a drinks reception.

Check out our keynote speaker, Connor Hill, chatting through the details:

Guest speaker Connor Hill, founder of Inspire Circular, will present a keynote speech on the night. Connor has spent over ten years developing and delivering circular strategies at Adidas, John Lewis, and M&S. His pioneering projects include FUTURECRAFT.LOOP, the first fully circular trainer, and John Lewis BuyBack which helped inspire thousands of customers to combat clothing waste. Today, he advises brands and individuals on how they can accelerate their journeys toward circularity. Connor is currently the Programme Lead at the University of Cambridge for the Circular and Sustainability Strategies Executive Leadership Course. 

Additionally, Carrie Davies, founder of One Essentials, will give a presentation about how she implements circularity in her business. One Essentials has become renowned for producing classic basics using only premium recycled, organic and non-toxic fabric and biodegradable elastic, all manufactured in ethical factories. Every item is designed with the end of life in mind with 1% of each sale donated to the Or Foundation.


The full agenda for the evening is as follows:

6.00pm: Arrival & drinks/nibbles available
6.30pm: Introduction and welcome
6.35pm: Keynote speech by Connor Hill from Inspire Circular
6.50pm: Presentation by Carrie Davies from One Essentials 
7.00pm: Q&A
7.15pm: Introduce provocations and kick-off roundtable discussion 
7.20pm: Roundtable Discussion 
8.00pm: Summarise and Wrap Up 
Drinks and networking


EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Key takeaways and actions from the evening will be summarised in a one-page digital resource that will be sent to all attendees after the event. Don’t miss out!


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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.   

What?
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. 

Why?
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.

Who?
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. 

BUSINESS PLANNING
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

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

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

PRODUCTION + SOURCING
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

USE PHASE / END OF LIFE
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.


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