The British Fashion Council and eBay UK 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 pounds in total ($120,178) in grants.
Each of the six winning businesses, which all provide circular fashion solutions, will receive mentoring from industry leaders and a 15,000-pound ($18,027) grant to accelerate their growth. An overall winner, which is soon to be announced, will receive an additional 10,000-pound ($12.018) grant.
The winning businesses include By Rotation, a 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.
The Circular Textiles Foundation, which links clothing design, takeback and recycling technologies using QR technology and certification systems. This includes a credible circularity mark for retailers, recognizing clothing designed to be recycled into fiber.
The Seam, an on-demand tailoring service making clothing alterations and repairs accessible through tech. It has already completed 10,000 repairs and provides white label care and repair platforms to fashion retailers, enabling brands to encourage tailoring over returns and extend the life of what they produce.
Sages, and 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 sustainable shoes for kids made with innovative recycled and bio-materials. It also provides recycling solutions and eco-educational content and stories.
The final winner, Circular Inc. Ltd., provides circular design and sustainable manufacturing to accompany radio frequency identification (RFID)-assisted commercial repair and upcycling of clothing.
eBay UK is the No. 1 online resale marketplace for secondhand fashion, and it will be supporting the winners of the fund to grow and thrive. Winners will participate in a six-week mentoring program featuring one-on-one sessions with business leaders from eBay and organizations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as well as networking opportunities, followed by the financial support.
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.
“We are honored to be recognized by eBay and the British Fashion Council as champions of circular fashion,” Tim Cross, founder of Circular Textiles Foundation, said. “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 “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 feedback on circular solutions.
“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,” Caroline Rush, CEO at the British Fashion Council, said. “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 grants. The fund builds on eBay’s longstanding support for the circular fashion economy–in 2021, eBay helped save over 17,770 tons of fashion items out of landfill, according to the company.