eBay UK backs circular economy innovators in fashion with fresh funding

eBay UK has chosen six small businesses pioneering waste reduction in fashion to benefit from new innovation funding, supporting solutions including clothing rental platforms and pre-owned children's clothing subscriptions.

eBay UK backs circular economy innovators in fashion with fresh funding

The funding is being provided through the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, hosted by eBay in partnership with the British Fashion Council and environmental charity Hubbub.

Under the Fund scheme, which opened to applications in September 2023 and received hundreds of responses, innovative businesses needed to prove how innovative their solution is and set out the likely benefits in terms of environmental impact. They also had to set out a credible plan for scaling their solution.

Swoperz was selected as the ultimate winner and will benefit from £25,000 in grant funding. The business provides a subscription service for pre-owned children’s clothing, giving users access to items that are new to them as their child grows.

Swoperz’s USP is that it hosts a child-run swapping service for clothing. Children aged six to 16 can gain ‘tokens’ for swapping their clothes, which they can spend on new purchases. Swapping is facilitated in person with adult management, making the solution ideal for school uniforms as well as casual clothing.

A further five businesses, listed below, will receive £15,000 from the fund:

  • Thrifthood, an online retailer of second-hand childrenswear offering curated packages.
  • Made Super, a platform enabling businesses to offer rental services on their existing Shopify accounts.
  • Give Your Best, which enables brands and individuals to donate clothing online for sale at low prices to vulnerable communities.
  • Finds World, a social marketplace for vintage and handmade fashion with a USP being the use of video listings.
  • Loanhood, which provides digital fashion rental marketplace solutions to businesses.

As well as receiving financial backing, the six businesses will receive a six-week mentoring package including advice on fine-tuning, scaling and marketing their business, plus industry networking.

Swoperz’s co-founder Vicky Fuller said the support will “truly take us to the next level”.

eBay UK’s head of fashion Jemma Tadd said: “We are dedicated to empowering the UK’s most innovative thinkers who are pioneering solutions for fashion waste and driving a circular fashion economy.

“I am immensely proud of this initiative and can’t wait to see this year’s Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund winners grow with our support. Together, we are truly reimagining the future of fashion.”

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that a bin lorry full of fashion is dumped, landfilled or burned every second. In the UK, more than three-quarters of the 1.7 million tonnes of clothing and textiles discarded each year are either sent to landfill or incineration.

With recycling solutions for blended composition textiles in their relative commercial infancy, service-based business model options like resale, swapping, upcycling and sharing will prove key to creating a circular economy for the sector.

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