Vogue UK - Meet Five Designers Championing Sustainability At The Global Change Award Summit

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Fashion’s biggest headache in 2018? It’s not about selling more handbags, or appealing to a millennial customer. The real issue now is how, in an industry defined by the embrace of the new, we can eliminate waste.

The Global Change Award summit in Stockholm this week aimed to tackle that concern head on. An initiative launched in 2015 by the H&M Foundation – a non-profit arm of H&M – the competition, which this year had 2,600 entries from 151 countries, looks to reward innovations that challenge the fashion industry’s status quo.

The shortlist of five winners takes home a portion of the €1 million grant, and the chance to participate in a year-long accelerator programme, in partnership with consultancy firm Accenture and Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology. “We don’t see innovation as a competitive edge, but as a collaborative space,” says Erik Bang, H&M Foundation’s innovation lead. “The aim is to unlock exponential impact, to do good through the circular economy and have a positive effect. But we can only do that by working together.” As former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson asserted in his keynote speech on the evening of the awards: “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.”

So, what will the future of fashion look like? Vogue met the winning teams whose innovations could be switching up your wardrobe in the next decade.

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Crop-A-Porter (DBA Agraloop)

This year’s first place winner, winning the lion’s share of the grant (€300,000), Crop-A-Porter uses leftovers from food crop harvests, such as oilseed flax, hemp, sugar cane, bananas and pineapples from China, North America and soon Costa Rica, to create its sustainable bio-textiles. Crucially, though, they do so by adding value for the communities they work with. “We’ve created what we call the agraloop,” explains Isaac Nichelson, the CEO of the American-based company. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibers whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system.”

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