May 25, 2020 – By Daisy Wallis
Despite the current pandemic, the campaign to create a more sustainable fashion industry has been more vocal than ever. Digital events like Fashion Revolution Week have provided necessary discussions on how we can all work together to create a sustainable future for fashion. And it doesn’t stop there. This years’ European Social Innovation Competition is showcasing start-ups looking to reimagine the future of fashion through new and exciting innovations.
What is the competition?
The European Social Innovation Competition was launched in memory of social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos who focused his work on developing innovations to address some of the biggest societal challenges. Each year the competition hopes to inspire entrepreneurs to develop ideas that help improve society and the environment. In previous years, the competition has highlighted key issues like Challenging Plastic Waste (2019) and supporting the integration of migrants and refugees (2016).
At the beginning of 2020, the European Commission announced the eighth edition of its European Social Innovation Competition – ‘Reimagine Fashion: changing behaviours for sustainable fashion’. Calling on European social innovators, the ‘Reimagine Fashion’ challenge looked to inspire entrepreneurs to create innovative ideas to improve the environmental and social impact of fashion.
On the 4th of May, the commission announced its 30 semi-finalists from 14 countries across Europe. Of the 766 applications, the 30 semi-finalists are all early-stage social innovation projects each tackling a different aspect of the fashion supply chain. From algae-based leather alternatives to the complete reinvention of a fashion week format, these projects are not only innovative but truly awe-inspiring.
At this stage of the competition, the semi-finalists will all receive support from leading experts to develop their ideas into a Development Plan. As well as receiving 1-to-1 mentoring sessions, the semi-finalists will all have access to the competition’s social innovation academy. The academy, which this year will go digital, features presentations from renowned social innovators and will provide advice on developing social innovation projects.
In September the judging panel will select the 10 projects which they believe are the most innovative and have the greatest potential. From the finalists, 3 winners will be chosen, and each will be awarded 50,000 € to further their projects. Despite there only being 3 winners, the competition offers its semi-finalists a unique opportunity to develop and grow with their continued guidance and support even in these difficult times.
We’ve selected three of our favourite projects from the semi-finalists this year!
To keep clothes and textiles out of landfill, Kleiderly uses its low energy technology to turn unwanted textiles into a new sustainable and circular material that can be used again and again as something entirely new.
The start-up works in collaboration with many local businesses to collect waste clothing and produce this new and incredibly versatile textile. The material can be shaped multiple times into various products, meaning that an old t-shirt can become anything from a pair of sunglasses to a suitcase!
On top of this, the material is durable, non-toxic, and can be recycled up to 5 times – Kleiderly’s textile innovation is definitely one to watch.
Combining the importance of sustainability and inclusivity in the fashion industry, this start-up is looking to reimagine the way brands create new products. MeuTeu looks to create a conversation between fashion brands and the consumer to ensure that the products that brands make are inclusive, sustainable and needed.
As well as this the MeuTeu lab wants to create their own participative projects focused on creating collections that respond to the needs of minorities that are commonly left out of fashion. Through this, MeuTeu hopes to demonstrate that creating fashion that is accessible to all is possible when incorporating the consumer in the design process.
The concept of the fashion week has recently been thrown into jeopardy. But one project is using this time to reinvent the basic structure and rules of the famous fashion week. The new Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022, presented by the organisers of Copenhagen Fashion Week, demonstrates how the event will become a powerful platform to push sustainability in the industry.
The three-year plan includes initiatives to reduce its climate impact by 50% and a goal of becoming a zero-waste event by 2022. The plan also has a clear focus on ensuring that in the future the event will implement sustainability requirements to all brands applying to showcase their work.
This particular project demonstrates that the competition is doing invaluable work to reinvent unsustainable aspects of Europe’s fashion industry. This action plan will provide an excellent example of how similar events could implement initiatives to improve the industry’s sustainability efforts.
Reimagining a better future for fashion
In a time of uncertainty, the European Social Innovation Competition is giving innovators across Europe the chance to help change the fashion world. Through its exclusive academy and pool of experts, the competition demonstrates how working collaboratively could create a much brighter and sustainable future for the fashion industry.
We, here at KeiSei, wish all of the Semi-Finalists the best of luck going into the next stage of the competition and we hope that these incredible projects inspire more innovators across the world to reimagine fashion for the better.