Together we can make all fashion good

With climate change on everyone’s mind, the sense of urgency to change the fashion industry for the better is building. That’s why the recent launch of global initiative Fashion for Good – located in the heart of Amsterdam – and its accelerator programme for startups in the fashion industry couldn’t have come at a better time.
This is a #fashionplatforms article and long read
(Fashion, Innovation & Sustainable platforms)

Launched on 30 March, the global Fashion for Good initiative is here to make all fashion good. Quite a tall order considering that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world – in terms of CO2 emissions. But actions speak louder than words. So, on 13 April, twelve startups selected from among 250 applicants around the world entered the three-month Plug and Play – Fashion for Good accelerator programme.

Current exhibition in the Fashion for Good experience centre in Amsterdam
Photo by Fred Ernst

Mushroom skin is the new leather

The startups are all working on new technologies and business models that have the potential to change the fashion industry for the better.

Imagine funky things like mushroom skin transformed into a material for making shoes – as an alternative to leather. Or how about using recycled fluid CO2 as a solvent instead of water, potentially replacing conventional, highly polluting fibre and apparel cleaning processes. Or using nanotechnology to identify organic cotton and the conventional-to-organic mix ratio within textiles.

These are just three examples of innovations that the startups are working on.

“The accelerator is a very intensive programme that aims to fast-track the startups as businesses and speed up the new technologies or business models they are introducing,” says Isabelle Laurencin, director of the Plug and Play – Fashion for Good accelerator. “The goal is for them to achieve in three months what would normally take one to two years.”

“The accelerator aims to fast-track the startups as businesses”

Getting support from the best

This concentrated programme is run by Plug and Play and Fashion for Good, with support from global luxury group Kering, known for brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney, and C&A. Plug and Play is the world’s largest startup accelerator, which has helped to grow market leaders such as PayPal and Dropbox.

Kering, C&A and Plug and Play provide one-to-one mentoring while Fashion for Good offers – all from its location in the city centre of Amsterdam – workspaces and workshops on relevant topics such as material use, technology, general business support and so on.

During the programme, the startups are matched with fashion corporates. “The added value of this approach,” explains Isabelle, “is that startups can leverage direct insights and guidance from the brands themselves and discuss potential opportunities to develop pilot initiatives.”

Saeed Amidi (left) of Plug and Play layed out his vision for Fashion for Good at the launch on 30 March. Want to learn more? Fashion for Good published an interview with Saeed. Marie Claire Daveu (right) is from Kering. Photo by Fred Ernst

Becoming a hub for change

“But Fashion for Good is more than an accelerator,” stresses Isabelle. They also launched the Good Fashion Guide to help apparel manufacturers and brands begin their journey towards only good fashion. And over time, the aim is for the Fashion for Good building at Rokin to become a hub where startups, Fashion for Good partners, corporates, smaller businesses, consumers and other stakeholders can work, connect and get inspired to act in a more sustainable way.

At the moment, companies like Made-by and the Social Apparel Coalition and ZDHC are already flex-working in the building. The community is run by ImpactHub.

“We’re bringing in corporates that are committed to working with our startups”

From innovation to mainstream

So, when will the masses start wearing shoes made of mushroom ‘leather’? Don a shirt with fibres containing food crop waste? Or when will brands start using recycled fluid CO2 for textile cleaning?

Maybe things will become clearer during the meetup on Wednesday 17 May with the twelve startups from the accelerator programme. “Here, all questions are welcome,” says Isabelle.

And although many would argue – for good reason – that change towards a sustainable fashion industry is moving too slowly and that corporates are not taking enough responsibility, Isabelle explains how she sees things from putting together the accelerator programme.

“We’re bringing in corporates that are committed to working with our startups, as collaboration between the two is an essential part of the programme. The traction we get from these brands is amazing. In addition to Kering and C&A, we look forward to working with many other brands in this pre-competitive space.”

OW-our-world-MycoTex-Neffa-aniela hoitink-jurk

MycoTex is a mushroom-based textile shaped on custom-fitted moulds. It is a new one-step way of producing clothing that eliminates the need for spinning yarns, weaving and other processes.

Visit Fashion for Good and join in the meetups
Exhibition

Fashion for Good has opened three floors to the public in its historic building at Rokin 102. The launch pad exhibition of the Fashion for Good experience will evolve into a permanent experience centre. The current exhibition informs visitors in an engaging way about the state of fashion with regards to sustainability. At the same time, it is a call to action for people to be part of the larger movement of Only Good Fashion.

Meetup

On Wednesday 17 May Fashion for Good’s first meetup is a fact. It will be hosted at Rokin 102 and more meetups will follow. Everyone is invited to the meetups and to join in the discussion with startups, innovators, brands, impact investors and others on how we can make all fashion good.

Visit the Fashion for Good website to stay up to date. The meetup for Wednesday 17 May is already full.

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