Fashion for Good: Building a better world through sustainable fashion
Fashion for Good is aiming to build a better world through a circular ‘Good Fashion’ approach, focused on restoration and regeneration. Catalyze joined the platform as a mentor delivering non-dilutive funding and strategic expertise to start-ups and scale-ups in their Innovation Programmes. We met with Max Easton, Innovation Platform Associate, who manages the Global Innovation Programme and Alumni Network, and Fosca Poltronieri, Senior Business Developer, Green & Sustainable Innovations at Catalyze, to learn more about Fashion for Good and the collaboration with Catalyze.
The ‘GROW: future of fashion’ exhibition at the Fashion for Good museum, Amsterdam. Image from Alina Krasieva.
Aiming for a ‘Good’ fashion transformation
Launched in 2017, Fashion for Good is working towards transforming the fashion industry with ‘Good’ fashion, moving away from the fashion industry’s ‘take-make-waste’ model towards a circular system that is restorative and regenerative, by design. Fashion for Good’s focus is on raw materials all the way to end of use – with a particular emphasis on impact, which is primarily in the supply chain.
Max explains, “Our goal is to make fashion good. We have two ways of doing this: by collaborating with the industry directly – brands, suppliers, manufacturers and so on, and by engaging with consumers. The consumer side is where we do the important work of educating the consumer, to show what’s possible in the fashion industry.
“On the industry side we have three key mechanisms to achieve our goals: the Innovation Platform, serving as a global platform for innovation, where we scout and support innovators with the aim to scale their solutions with the help of our Partners such as adidas, Kering and Levi Strauss & Co; Foundational Projects, tackling hard to solve issues, such as chemical recycling through multi-stakeholder consortium projects that test and validate technologies for wide scale implementation; and our alumni network – a community of over 140 innovators from across our programmes and projects, which facilitates collaboration, knowledge sharing and development.”
Driving innovation for a net-zero industry by 2050
Throughout the fashion supply chain there is huge demand for sustainable solutions, fuelled by the need to change in order to meet growing regulatory requirements and standards aimed to reduce the industry’s footprint. The necessity for innovation within the industry was made clear by Fashion for Good’s recently published report, “Unlocking the Trillion-Dollar Fashion Decarbonisation Opportunity”. To realise a net-zero fashion industry by 2050, 39% of the reduction in emissions needs to come from innovation.
Max explains, “Here’s an example – over 50% of the CO2 emissions in the fashion supply chain are generated during in the processing stage, when fabrics are primarily pretreated, dyed and finished. How to solve the vast majority of this footprint is a perfect case study for innovation – instead of switching to a more sustainable energy source, the best strategy is to reduce the amount of energy required in the first place. At present, the industry utilises wet processing, which consists of heated baths and tanks filled with huge volumes of water. However, innovation now exists that requires very little to no water — and subsequently also significantly less energy to heat up the entire process.
“If the industry moved from wet (i.e. water baths) to dry (i.e. no water baths) processing, we estimate it can save approximately 80-90% CO2 emissions across pretreatment, dyeing and finishing, respectively. Given the significance of this step to fashion’s total GHG emissions, transitioning to almost dry processing has the potential to abate over a quarter (26%) of total GHG emissions emitted by the industry. Innovation is crucial to fashion’s development to a lower impact industry”
Fashion for Good HQ, Amsterdam. Image from Fashion for Good.
Creating pre-competitive space for collaboration
Integral to the work of Fashion for Good is their Innovation Programme; a 9-month programme for innovation, connecting innovators with their 22 corporate, regional and affiliate partners – including many major international fashion brands and manufacturers. This provides an interface between both sides, by which new collaborations can easily be established.
Max continues, “For our Partners, we create a pre-competitive space, where we encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration on pilots and projects to reduce costs and accelerate innovation. On the innovator side, it is about linking them up with the partners to build credibility and also helping them to develop commercially as companies. Together, the goal is to create progress – and scale these innovative solutions through our Partners.”
Innovators also gain access to a dedicated support team at Fashion for Good, networking opportunities, targeted introductions with industry leaders, and support with multiple means of financing – wherein Catalyze delivers non-dilutive funding expertise.
Fosca adds, “Fashion for Good has a truly exciting innovation platform, offering a comprehensive support system. Never before has bringing together information, innovation, and people been more important. ”
Catalyze: Bringing non-dilutive funding expertise to the programme
Fashion for Good aims to offer their innovators full support, but did not initially have a partner delivering non-dilutive funding strategy. After identifying the need to add a mentor with this expertise to the platform, they found Catalyze.
Max describes the process, “The grant space is somewhere that draws consistent interest from our innovators. When innovators are looking for financing, we connect them with Catalyze, where they receive a one-on-one session and funding scan. This quickly gives innovators a better idea of what’s going on in Europe or the US and what could be a good fit for their particular innovation. From there, Catalyze can take their projects forward and increase their chances of success, while reducing the innovator’s time commitment.
“A big benefit for our innovators is that the funding scan from Catalyze can help them identify multiple smaller grants to work on in-house, while also flagging larger projects with significant grants that they can apply for with Catalyze. This is a big plus from our collaboration, and something that gives more options to our time-constrained innovators.”
To finish, Fosca highlights why Catalyze is excited about the collaboration:
“With the recognition of positive Fashion being a fundamental part in the world’s sustainable future, there are now many funding opportunities available for innovators in this sector. Our collaboration means that innovators can stay informed and connected, thereby further accelerating the sustainable fashion ecosystem. This is strongly aligned with our mission to be the consulting partner of choice to drive the success of meaningful innovations.”
Catalyze is thrilled to collaborate with Fashion for Good in bringing new innovations forward within the fashion industry.
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