eBay UK launches Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund with British Fashion Council

Press Release

  • £100k to be made available for small businesses providing circular fashion technology

  • Applications open now until 3rd November 2022

Leading marketplace eBay UK has today announced a partnership with the British Fashion Council to launch the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, offering £100,000 in funding for small businesses specialising in circular fashion solutions.

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 & services, and social commerce.

eBay UK brings its experience as the number one online resale marketplace for second-hand fashion in the market and will support the winners of the Fund to grow and thrive like the many thousands of small businesses already on the platform. The British Fashion Council will leverage its industry expertise and access to fashion innovation businesses to identify and assess the circular solutions that are most likely to succeed. Environmental charity, Hubbub will support in an advisory role, drawing on its experience in delivering high-profile grant funds. 

Applications are open from now until Thursday 3rd November, and small businesses can apply via a simple form on eBay’s website here. A shortlist of ten businesses will be invited to pitch to a panel of industry experts from eBay and other leading organisations, who will then choose the six overall recipients of the funding.

Each of the six winning businesses will be awarded a £15,000 grant, and a final overall winner will receive an additional £10,000. On top of financial support, 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.

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: since the partnership launched, eBay saw 7,000% more searches for ‘pre-loved fashion’ on its site compared to the same period last year (May-August).

Lucy Peacock, Head of Pre-loved, eBay UK said: “There’s widespread acceptance across the fashion world that circularity is key for the long-term success of the industry. Over the past few years, there have been so many brilliant start-ups and small businesses that are changing the way we think about a circular fashion economy. We hope that the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund will help scale these innovative start-ups in size and reach, and in turn make sustainable fashion practices more accessible to more people and businesses.”

Caroline Rush, CEO at the British Fashion Council said: “Supporting excellence and innovation is at the core of what we do. We all have a part to play in creating a positive future for the fashion industry and now more than ever, it is crucial that the fashion community does its utmost to protect and nurture innovative start-ups and small businesses specialising in circular fashion solutions. Through our Institute of Positive Fashion, our main goal is to encourage global collaboration and local action through education and information sharing to help the British fashion industry to be more resilient and circular. The Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund is an excellent initiative, and we look forward to seeing all the ideas that each applicant has to offer”.

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.


Notes to editors

How to apply for the Fund / Application criteria: 

In order to be considered for the eBay circular fashion innovation fund applicants should meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants should have an established business that has been trading for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 6 years.

  • The applicant’s company should be based in the United Kingdom and registered with Companies House (not sole trader) and can be a charity, social enterprise or registered company.

  • The Fund is open to both eBay and non eBay sellers.

  • Full Ts & Cs available here

Judging process

  • Applications close on Thursday 3rd November.

  • Applicants will be informed if they have been shortlisted by Friday 11th November.

  • Shortlisted applicants will be contacted by the eBay team. The next process will be to pitch their proposals to a panel committee consisting of industry experts and eBay leadership w/c 14th November.

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.

About The Institute of Positive Fashion:

The Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) helps the British fashion industry lead in the goal to be more resilient and circular through global collaboration and local action. Leveraging global expertise and resources we will adopt standards, develop, and establish frameworks, to reset and create a new blueprint for the industry. Through identifying key industry challenges, we call for collective action and investment in innovation to drive change at pace and scale.  

We are aligning our industry with the needs of our planet by taking an holistic approach across environment, people, community & craftsmanship. The IPF aims to avoid duplication, highlighting available resources and gaps, focusing on disseminating information, and convene cross-sector stakeholders to assess collective challenges and collaborate on action.

Established by the British Fashion Council, led by a steering committee of industry experts, supported by advisory groups comprising industry, government and academia. The British Fashion Council thanks the steering committee for their time and expertise in the ongoing development of the Institute of Positive Fashion. The role of the steering committee is to share and identify both individual and institutional expertise to inform strategy and participate in collective action. For more information visit IPF.

About Hubbub:               

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.     


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