Kering named as founding partner for fashion innovation accelerator

Global luxury fashion group Kering has been announced as the first founding partner of a new innovation accelerator geared at invigorating sustainability within the fashion and apparel industries.

Kering will act as the first founding anchor partner of the Plug and Play Fashion for Good initiative. The platform links incumbent businesses with innovative start-ups to support the scaling-up process of new technologies, methodologies and business models.

“The future of luxury is dependent on innovation to help weave sustainability into every niche of our industry, from raw material sourcing and manufacturing processes to end of use,” Kering’s chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu said.

“Collaborations like the Plug and Play – Fashion for Good accelerator will allow the textile industry to move more rapidly toward finding essential solutions to the challenges we all face.”

Fashion for Good is the brainchild of Plug and Play, an innovation platform for start-ups, corporates and investors, and has already been backed with an initial grant from fellow founder the C&A Foundation, the separate, collaboration-focused arm of global retailer C&A. Kering, which joined the project on Thursday (30 March), is the first company to commit to provide training, networking and mentorships to start-ups selected through the programme.

The accelerator aims to disrupt supply chain innovation, focusing on raw material sourcing, end-of-life solutions, and fabric and garment production. A particular focus will also be extended to innovations and start-ups that can impact the textile industry’s approach to water, energy and chemical consumption and labour practices.

‘Less bad more good’

The aims of the programme match the calls of British fashion designer Stella McCartney, who claimed that clothing manufacturers need to take more responsibility for the environmental impact of the products they produce and stop the “unglamorous” sourcing of unsustainable and unethical products.

The C&A Foundation’s executive director Leslie Johnston added: “Fashion for Good inspires the daring invention and widespread adoption of good fashion practice. Key to its success will be its open, inclusive approach and its enabling role to allow innovation to scale.

“As such, we are thrilled to welcome Kering as the first anchor partner in the ‘Plug and Play – Fashion for Good’ accelerator. Through collaboration with Kering, and other partners, we are working to give promising start-up innovators the funding and expertise they need to grow so we can shift fashion from being less bad to more good.”

Kering’s involvement with the launch follows its recent announcement of a three-pillar sustainability strategy, which place a focus on emissions reductions and “creative” supply chain sustainability. The Gucci owner has set 2025 targets for 100% traceability of key raw materials, and the creation of a supplier index to ensure the entire supply chain complies with Kering’s values.

The fashion firm recently introduced a new aspect to its long-standing partnership with New York’s The New School’s Parsons School of Design, which will add new modules to the school’s fashion programme tailored to developing sustainability within the fashion sector.

Fashion for Good has since issued an industry-wide call to arms for businesses and start-ups to enrol in the programme to accelerate a holistic and open-source approach to fashion sustainability.

Matt Mace

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