Tommy Hilfiger, a division of PVH Corp., has selected the five finalists for its fourth Fashion Frontier Challenge, an annual contest that recognizes and awards startups that promote inclusivity.
Chosen from a pool of 259 applicants, this year’s quintet includes Care+Wear, a New York-based healthwear company that creates adaptive and accessible clothing such as scrubs and patient gowns that are designed to make hospital stays more comfortable; IDA Sports, a U.K. footwear and soccer-cleat company specifically for female athletes; Koalaa, a British soft upper limb prosthetics maker; Tactus, a Dutch-American producer of smart clothing that transforms music into vibrations to be enjoyed by deaf people; and Moner Bondhu, a Bangladeshi organization that provides mental health counseling to garment factory workers, women and youth.
“As we move into the fourth edition of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge, we know that there is still more work to be done to achieve diverse representation and inclusion in fashion,” Tommy Hilfiger said. “When we come together in collaboration, we spark an important catalyst for change—and only together can we foster this long-lasting impact. We’re committed to using our platform to give emerging talent a voice so the industry as a whole can evolve how we think, build and create.”
The finalists completed design sprints with experts from the Tommy Hilfiger global headquarters in Amsterdam last month. Each presented their most pressing business challenge and collaborated with professionals to develop practical solutions over the course of a week.
For the finale on Feb. 9, the five will pitch their business concepts to a jury of business and sustainability leaders consisting of Tommy Hilfiger; Martijn Hagman, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe; activist and former model Halima Aden; Esther Verburg, EVP of sustainable business and innovation, Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe; Adrian Johnson, media entrepreneur and adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD; Katrin Ley, managing director, Fashion for Good; and Yvonne Bajela, investment partner and board member.
A 200,000 euro (approximately $212,967) award will be divided between the top two winners. They will also receive a year-long mentorship opportunity with Tommy Hilfiger and experts at the graduate business school INSEAD, and a place in an INSEAD course.
An additional 15,000 euro ($15,907) will be awarded to the finalist who Tommy Hilfiger associates vote as their “Audience Favorite.”
Netherlands-based Lalaland.ai and Rwandan brand UZURI K&Y won last year’s challenge. Lalaland.ai’s platform uses artificial intelligence to create ethnically diverse and differently sized virtual models to be used by e-commerce companies. UZURI K&Y produces environmentally friendly footwear using recycled car tires collected from sub-Saharan Africa.
“Supporting and working with communities that drive positive change and innovation within the fashion industry remains one of our top priorities,” Hagman said. “Driving change is part of our brand DNA. With every new edition, the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge reaffirms our commitment to amplifying the work of incredible entrepreneurs who can play a critical role in our journey towards creating a better fashion industry.”