H&M Foundation has launched an initiative with crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to engage with customers and enable them to take active part as supporters, backers and testers of innovative solutions. This is part of the Global Change Award instituted by the Foundation where winners share a €1 million grant to improve fashion’s impact on the planet through innovation.

Some of the winning products are lab-made vegan leather, textile fibres made of nettles, a digital system to make products recyclable from scratch, children’s clothes that expand, and a biodegradable toxic-free membrane for outdoor wear. The winners were selected out of 6,640 entries from 182 countries by the judging panel. According to 45 per cent of the participants, funding is their biggest obstacle and crowdfunding is one way to bridge the gap.

The number of entries from Africa and Asia have increased almost 200 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively, from 2018 to 2019, with India, Nigeria and Pakistan being the top three countries by number of entries. It may be noted that 47 per cent of the ideas are female-led, nearly 34 per cent are students, and 41 per cent of the applicants are in the 25–34 age group.

In addition to the financial grant, all winners also get access to a one-year innovation accelerator programme organised by the Foundation in partnership with Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, which will take them to Stockholm, New York and Hong Kong. The programme also gives access to virtual coaching sessions during the year. This setup cuts years off the development timeline, as per the Foundation.

Details on this year’s Global Change Award winners and how the €1 million grant is distributed are given below:

€300,000 – The Loop Scoop by circular.fashion (Germany): A digital system aiming to close the loop on every garment from design to wear to recycling: https://youtu.be/MkgAKsiqyQk

€250,000 – Sane Membrane by dimpora (Switzerland): A biodegradable and mineral-based membrane for outdoor wear: https://youtu.be/ITnbnxVz-F0

€150,000 – Sustainable Sting by Green Nettle Textile (Kenya): Growing nettles to create sustainable fashion fibres and opportunities for farmers in Kenya to boost their livelihoods: https://youtu.be/zsUfKXHienc

€150,000 – Clothes that Grow by Petit Pli (UK): Outfits that expand with the child, while reducing environmental impact: https://youtu.be/Pr5sV4vhLZA

€150,000 – Lab Leather by Le Qara (Peru): Using microorganisms to create vegan biodegradable leather for the fashion industry: https://youtu.be/j_q9SYeZr-Q

Global Change Award was initiated 2015 by H&M Foundation, with the aim of catalysing early-stage innovations that can accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry. Neither the Foundation nor the H&M group take any equity or intellectual property rights in the innovations. The Foundation focuses on four areas: education, water, equality, and planet.

CB’s questions on criteria used to select the winners, tracking impact, and impact of previous winners did not receive any response.

In a press release, Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, said, ‘The winners of the Global Change Award prove that it’s possible to improve the environmental impact of the fashion industry. They are a true inspiration and great partners to any fashion company that wants to contribute to protecting the planet and our living conditions. The initiative with Indiegogo adds an important piece as it also enables the public to be at the very heart of finding and funding a future for sustainable style.’