CIVITTA is launching an international programme aiming to accelerate and scale up innovation applications for a sustainable fashion industry in Europe. The general objective of this action is to promote growth, enhance competitiveness and improve the environmental performance of SMEs, designers and start-ups in European Union fashion industry.
Environmental sustainability as a competitive advantage
The fashion industry is a large contributor to Europe's economic growth, providing billions of euros of overall benefit to the economy every year. However, the production of clothes and textiles has a significant negative impact on the environment, showcasing serious exploitation of natural resources and generating piles of waste.
Large amounts of natural resources are extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short period, after which the materials are largely left to landfills or incineration plants. This linear system puts unnecessary pressure on resources available, polluting and degrading the natural environment and ecosystems, which also has a significant negative impact on the society.
The main market driver in the fashion sector is the fast-growing demand for products and the need for the companies to respond to it without negative environmental impact while still maintaining competitiveness. Transition towards innovative, sustainable and resource efficient business models could be the solution.
Consumer attitudes are changing and customers are becoming more aware of possible sustainable alternatives. Consumers increasingly choose brands that embrace purpose and have a smaller ecological footprint.
For the companies to stay relevant, there is a need to move towards a more sustainable approach in the way clothes are produced. In the current industry climate, where large corporations are much slower in embracing sustainable innovations, SMEs with strong environmental and social agendas can benefit from competitive advantage.
Fashion for Change is empowering the EU’s mission towards a more sustainable future
European Commission actively supports initiatives that increase sustainability and strengthen the competitiveness of fashion in EU countries. The EU thereby fosters change in the fashion industry towards greater ecological integrity and social justice with an aim to boost more efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy.
Fashion for Change is a 3-year project initiated by the European Commission under the call COS-CIRCFASH-2019-3-02: Accelerate and scale up innovation applications for a sustainable and circular fashion industry, which aims to improve the environmental and social impact of the European fashion SMEs, designers and start-ups through the development of competitive innovative business models.
The project unites an international team of five partners from three countries, including CIVITTA Estonia, and the Estonian Academy of Arts and, Singleton from Estonia, Ecopreneur from Belgium and Katalista Ventures from Lithuania. Experienced mentors are from Estonia, Netherlands, Belgium and Lithuania. Experts are brought in from various fields: innovation and start-ups, circular economy, finance and business, sustainability and fashion design.
Fashion for Change is targeting stakeholders from EU28 and all eligible COSME countries, including fashion industry, SMEs, designers, start-ups, investors, policy makers and civil society. The overall aim of the project is to provide financial and technical support for the small businesses in the industry, enabling acceleration and scale-up of innovative applications, products, processes and ideas for sustainable and circular fashion.
Shifting both industry and consumer behaviour
From January 2021 to December 2023, a combination of international events, mentorship programmes, networking activities and learning materials are delivered to empower stakeholders in the EU fashion industry. All interested parties are invited to an idea hackathon, awarding the best (and most sustainable) ideas with financial aid and a support programme for bringing it to life.
Generation of sustainable ideas is stimulated by using innovative ‘hackathon’ format bringing together small businesses, experts and mentors from the fields of innovation and start-ups, circular economy, finance and business, sustainability and fashion design. The designathon (design hackathon) takes place in Spring 2022 and invites fashion entrepreneurs and designers with a sustainable mission from across Europe to join the event. The winners proceed with a Growth Programme, which consists of extensive physical and online training and additional financial support for the best ideas.
The mentorship programme will provide far-reaching guidance for the participating SMEs, designers and start-ups to transfer to production of successful, marketable, green fashion products that attract intelligent consumers.
One of the goals of Fashion for Change is to raise awareness of civil society, change behaviours and encourage sustainable and ethical consumption patterns. A carefully crafted communication and promotion plan is put to place to achieve this goal. As a result of this plan an information platform is created, which educates the public about sustainable fashion. Policy recommendations are made to encourage long lasting change in the wider ecosystem. These actions support the shift towards more sustainable consumer and producer behaviours and therefore to the overall European Union goal to move toward climate neutrality by 2050.