eBay UK and the British Fashion Council have today announced the six winners of the first Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, which is aimed at helping grow small businesses providing more sustainable fashion solutions, and will deliver £100,000 in grants.
Each of the six winning businesses, which all provide circular fashion solutions, will receive mentoring from industry leaders and a £15,000 grant to accelerate their growth. An overall winner, which is soon to be announced, will receive an additional £10,000 grant. The six winning businesses are:
By Rotation - the world’s first social network for fashion lovers to rent and lend quality items to each other. It already has over 500,000 downloads in the UK and is soon to expand to the US.
Circular Textiles Foundation- business linking clothing design, takeback and recycling technologies using QR technology and certification systems. This includes a credible circularity mark for retailers, recognising clothing designed to be recycled into fibre.
The Seam - on-demand tailoring service making clothing alterations and repairs accessible through tech. It has already completed 10,000 repairs and provides whitelabelled care and repair platforms to fashion retailers, enabling brands to encourage tailoring over returns and extend the life of what they produce.
SAGES- innovator of natural dyes made from food waste, providing a commercial alternative to harmful synthetic dyes. SAGES focuses on circularity at all stages of the dye process with the aim to create a fully sustainable end to end product.
Pip and Henry- designer of unique sustainable shoes for kids, made with innovative recycled and bio-materials. It also provides recycling solutions and eco-educational content and stories for kids.
Circular Inc. Ltd- business providing circular design and sustainable manufacturing to accompany radio frequency identification (RFID)-assisted commercial repair and upcycling of clothing.
Solutions of the winners include:
A shoe that grows with a growing child’s foot and can be cleanly disassembled into component parts for recycling (Pip and Henry).
Natural dyes made from food waste, helping reduce the reliance on synthetic dyes - which are responsible for 80% of the emissions caused by the fashion industry (SAGES).
A certified QR code system allowing consumers to interact with a garment, the brand and play a part in its circular journey (Circular Textiles Foundation).
eBay UK is a leading online resale marketplace for second-hand fashion, and it will be supporting the winners of the Fund to grow and thrive like its existing small business community. Winners will participate in a six-week mentoring program, featuring one-on-one sessions with business leaders from eBay and organisations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as well as networking opportunities, followed by the financial support.
The Fund comes at a key moment for circular fashion, as appetite for second hand items continues to grow, with eBay UK selling two pre-loved fashion items every second. Growth in the sector has been particularly strong since eBay partnered with reality TV show Love Island in the summer.
The Fund hopes to bring new technology and services to the market that can help people think and shop differently, with a particular focus on areas such as customer experience, circular inventory and services, and social commerce.
Tim Cross, Founder of Circular Textiles Foundation, said: “We are honoured to be recognised by eBay and the British Fashion Council as champions of circular fashion. Investing in circular practices is absolutely crucial for the transition we need to make and there is no time to lose. We all have our part to play in creating a positive future for the industry and this is an important step towards our shared goal of a circular economy for fashion.”
Lucy Peacock, Head of Pre-loved, eBay UK, said: “Circularity is the future of fashion, and over recent years start-ups and small businesses have been at the forefront of solutions to make it a reality.
“The winners of the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund epitomise this, and we hope that the mentoring and grant will help scale these promising businesses in size and reach, and in turn make sustainable fashion practices more accessible to more people.”
As part of the winner selection process, the British Fashion Council leverages its industry expertise and access to fashion innovation businesses to assess and feed back on circular solutions.
Caroline Rush, CEO at the British Fashion Council, said: “We are delighted to work with eBay to drive transformative, positive change by supporting entrepreneurs that are helping to deliver circular solutions for the fashion industry of tomorrow. The Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund champions pioneers in this space, and we were incredibly impressed by the expertise, commitment and leadership demonstrated by each of our winners. We’d like to congratulate all six winners on what they have achieved so far and look forward to supporting them as they build, scale and thrive.”
Environmental charity, Hubbub is supporting in an advisory role, drawing on its experience in delivering high-profile grant funds.
The Fund builds on eBay’s long-standing support for the circular fashion economy: in 2021 eBay helped save over 17,770 tons of fashion items out of landfill - the equivalent of 1,404 double decker buses.
eBay is focused on making it simpler and easier for people to shop sustainably, with recent announcements including:
Partnership with Reskinned, the second hand clothing repair and resale experts. This expands on eBay’s offering of preloved clothing to include a wide range of items which have been repaired and made fit for resale, and the new ‘brand approved’ shopfront connects Reskinned with eBay’s 20 million plus customers.
Launch of eBay’s Imperfects Hub, a destination for sought after in-season branded fashion that may not be 100% perfect. It features over 180 brands including North Face, Off White, Puma, Fila and Timberland.
Partnerships with Love Island and Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign for the third year running, as part of eBay’s work to change the conversation around second-hand shopping.
eBay continued its commitment to helping drive better shopping habits by only promoting refurbished and pre-loved deals for Black Friday this year across all its marketing content.
Notes to editors
About the British Fashion Council:
The British Fashion Council (BFC) is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1983 with the role to strengthen British fashion in the global economy as a leader in responsible, creative businesses. It does this through championing diversity and building and inviting the industry to actively participate in a network to accelerate a successful circular fashion economy. The BFC promotes British fashion internationally and does so through fashion weeks, exhibitions and showcasing events. The BFC helps British designer businesses develop their profile and business globally and supports fashion talent beginning at college level, extending to talent identification, business support and showcasing schemes.
The BFC Foundation (Registered Charity Number: 11852152) was created in 2019 for charitable purposes and grant giving; attracting, developing, and retaining talent through education and business mentoring.
Hubbub is an award-winning charity and social enterprise that inspires ways of living that are good for the environment - disrupting the status quo to raise awareness, nudge behaviours and shape systems. Their aim is to revolutionise communications with the public about environmental issues - using everyday language and good design to make environmental actions desirable and tapping into things people are passionate about such as food, fashion, homes and neighbourhoods. This innovative approach saw Hubbub win the Charity of the Year Award in 2020 and Best Social Media Presence in 2021 at the prestigious Charity Times Awards.
Since its formation in 2014, Hubbub has delivered more than 145 trailblazing environmental campaigns in collaboration with over 2,300 partners, helping to shift the national debate on key environmental issues such as food waste, sustainable fashion, air pollution and recycling. Hubbub’s campaigns include #LeedsByExample which brought together 25 of the UK’s largest companies to boost recycling on the high street, a 3-year partnership with IKEA to create the world’s largest consumer-facing sustainability campaign ‘Live Lagom’ and creating a network of 280 (and counting) Community Fridges across the UK which, in 2021, redistributed an estimated 3,150 tonnes of surplus food and welcomed over 250,000 unique visitors.