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H&M’s Five Global Change Award Winners Look Set to Solidify Circularity

Fashion circularity is on the rise and the H&M Foundation is recognizing five sustainable innovations for their potential to reduce the apparel industry’s carbon footprint.

The non-profit arm of the fast fashion retailer announced the winners of its third Global Change Award, which aims to support early stage innovation, advance fashion circularity and protect the planet. The winning innovations–Crop-A-Porter, The Regenerator, Algae Apparel, Smart Stitch and Fungi Fashion–shared a $1.23 million grant from the H&M Foundation to support their business endeavors.

“I congratulate all five winning teams. They show that innovation knows no national borders and can rest in anyone’s head,” Karl-Johan Persson, H&M CEO and Foundation board member, said. “This day marks the start of a one-year innovation accelerator where H&M Foundation, Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm will support the winners to cut years off their timeline, bringing them to fashion and innovation hubs such as Stockholm, New York and Shanghai.”

From March 12-16, the public voted on Global Change Award’s website to divide funds between the five winning innovations. Crop-A-Porter, a U.S.-based startup working to minimize crop waste with bio-textiles, took home the largest grant of $369,006. The Regenerator, a Swedish fabric recycling innovation, received $307, 505 in recognition of its process that leverages circular technology and an eco-friendly chemical. Three other innovations–Belgium-based advanced thread Smart Stitch, Israel-based Algae Apparel and Netherlands-based Fungi Fashion–each received $184, 503 from the H&M Foundation.

Through the accelerator, winning innovations will have the opportunity to visit Stockholm, Shanghai and New York while utilizing a toolbox of skills, networks and exposure to help them grow their market presence.

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“We seek to help our industry begin to decouple from cotton as the world’s dominant natural fiber resource. Winning the Global Change Award means we can begin to unlock huge value for the textile and fashion industry,” a Crop-A-Porter’s spokesperson said. “We can now propel this important technology much faster into scaled production.”

The third edition of the Global Change Award attracted 2,600 entries from more than 150 nations. This year’s entries, including the five winning innovations, spanned several circular concepts, including biofabricated materials, circular recycling methods and ethical apparel apps.

The award comes on the heels of H&M Foundations recent circularity efforts.

In December, H&M Foundation unveiled a new apparel recycling concept with The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) that involves circular concepts such as global garment collecting programs and innovative textile waste management methods. HKRITA and H&M Foundation aim to investigate many technologies that could recycle garments made from blended textiles into new fibers.

Last Fall, H&M Foundation also developed a new method for recycling textile blends, which leverages a hydrothermal (chemical) process and could be scaled to the global fashion industry in the near future.