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Circular, Transparency Initiatives Lead Tommy Hilfiger’s Fashion Frontier Challenge

As we settle into the new year, our Sourcing Summit Companion Report looks ahead at ways to optimize processes and performance.

Six finalists were selected to move forward in Tommy Hilfiger’s latest Fashion Frontier Challenge, a global program the PVH-owned denim brand launched in 2018 to uplift Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs in fashion. Winning business ideas span fashion’s most pressing needs, including circularity, transparency and digital technology adoption.

After announcing a call for applications in January, the program received more than 430 applications from startups around the world. Tommy Hilfiger’s own internal teams, as well as external experts, narrowed down applicants based on a dedicated set of criteria including potential social impact and market growth.

Finalists include Clothes to Good, a South African organization creating textile recycling jobs for people with disabilities; Haelixa, a Switzerland-based product traceability technology focused on consumer goods supply chains; Mafi Mafi, an Ethiopian sustainable fashion brand that honors ancient traditions and empowers marginalized artisans; Lalaland, a Dutch platform that uses artificial intelligence to generate synthetic models across a range of ethnicities, ages and sizes; Soko, a Kenya-based jewelry business that connects Kenyan artisans to a global marketplace; and Uzuri K&Y, a Rwandan footwear brand that reuses recycled car tires and employs local youth.

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From Jan. 12-13, finalists will virtually pitch their business ideas to a panel of business and sustainability leaders, including several Tommy Hilfiger and PVH executives, actress and activist Yara Shahidi, INSEAD adjunct professor and entrepreneur Adrian Johnson, Fashion for Good managing director Katrin Ley, and founding member and principal at Impact X Capital Yvonne Bajela.

Two winners will each receive 100,000 euros (approximately $112,000) and a year-long mentorship with experts at Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD. The award will also include a spot in the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Program (ISEP), a leadership development initiative the business school launched in 2006.

One winner will also be selected as the “Audience Favorite” and receive 15,000 euros (approximately $16,000).

To-date, Tommy Hilfiger has awarded more than $418,000 to the program’s winning business ideas, which have gone on to support some of the most marginalized communities in the world, from small farmers in Africa to female factory workers in Pakistan and refugees.

Last year’s winners included Apon Wellbeing, a national chain of affordable grocery stores inside Bangladesh factories, and A Beautiful Mess, which helps refugees find social and economic independence by providing jobs at its restaurants and studio.

“The Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge embodies our long-standing mission to harness the power of fashion to foster inclusivity, representation and change,” Tommy Hilfiger said. “Our industry will only move forward with new, fresh ideas that challenge how we think, build and create. As a brand, it’s vital we use our platform to give entrepreneurs like our finalists a voice and opportunity to create real and long-lasting impact.”

Now in its third year, the program follows through on the brand’s commitment to becoming more inclusive and championing diversity both internally and throughout the industry. In August 2020, it outlined a set of 24 targets across four pillars centered around inclusivity and circularity that follow its motto “Wastes Nothing and Welcomes All.” Initiatives include implementing a more inclusive hiring process by 2023, adding representative workplace committees at its key suppliers by 2025, and providing professional and life skills development programs for 200,000 women across the PVH supply chain by 2030.

“As key players in the fashion industry, it is our responsibility to support, empower and encourage inclusivity,” said Martijn Hagman, CEO of  Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe. “The Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge is a testament of our commitment to make a meaningful and lasting contribution towards a better fashion industry.”