The annual Global Change Award is one of the world’s leading challenges for early stage innovation, and the largest initiative of its kind in the fashion industry. The award, initiated by the H&M Foundation in 2015, is given to game changing ideas that can make the entire fashion industry circular and help protect our planet and living conditions. With this year´s 2,600 entries from 151 countries it’s clear there’s no shortage of ideas out there. Interestingly, most solutions are coming from innovators outside of the fashion industry.

The non-profit H&M Foundation needs our help to split the 1 million euro grant between the five winners in an online vote. The five winners were chosen by an international expert panel with extensive knowledge within fashion, sustainability, circularity and innovation.


Making sustainable bio-textiles by using left-overs from food crop harvests

Food crop waste creates a huge problem as it is usually burnt or left to rot releasing polluting carbon dioxide and methane gas into the atmosphere. Crop-A-Porter will change this by turning the waste into a valuable resource, that also generates an additional income to the farmers. Crop-A-Porter takes the harvest remains of crops such as oil-seed flax, hemp, sugarcane, bananas and pineapples and turns it into useful bio-fibre through a low-cost, closed loop technology. The bio-fibre can then be turned into textile fabric. Watch a short film:

Algae Apparel

Turning algae into bio-fibre and eco-friendly dye that is also good for your skin

Growing natural fibres, such as cotton, requires large amounts of water. Textile dyeing is another huge problem, both in terms of water use and pollution. Algae Apparel has solved both these issues by looking under the sea to find an untapped resource in algae. Algae are a renewable and degradable aquatic organism, which can be turned into bio-fibre and earth friendly dye, just as Living Colour. A bonus effect of wearing clothes made from algae apparel is that the fabric releases anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutrients into your skin. Watch a short film:

Smart Stitch

A dissolvable thread that makes repairing and recycling a breeze

Zippers and buttons make garment recycling complicated as the removal of such details calls for manual assistance, making the process both costly and time consuming. Smart Stitch solves this problem by supplying a thread that simply dissolves at a high temperature. And when used for regular seams, the whole piece of clothing can easily be disassembled so that the fabric can be used over and over in new ways, cutting the need to produce fabric from scratch. Stitch by stitch, this innovation can bring new life to fashion. Watch a short film:

The Regenerator

Recirculating fashion into new textile fibre by separating cotton and polyester blends

Recycling of mixed material fabrics such as the hugely popular polyester and cotton blends is very tricky. The idea behind The Regenerator is a circular technology that uses an environmentally friendly chemical to gently separate and regenerate cotton and polyester blends into new, fully useable textile fibre. In short, this innovation will un-mix mixed fibres to create tomorrow’s fashion. Watch a short film:

Fungi Fashion

Custom-made clothes made from decomposable mushroom roots

Many of us enjoy fashion and trends, but the clothes we get rid of along the way are a big problem. Fungi Fashion went to the root of the problem and found a resource in mycelium – mushroom roots. Combined with 3D technology, they’ve found a way to produce custom-made clothes out of this new natural fibre without the need to cut and sew. Once you’ve worn it out, you simply bury the garment in the ground and it will naturally decompose. Watch a short film:

The teams behind the innovations and the results from the vote are revealed at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on March 20. I'm very curious to see who the people behind these innovations are, because I know of similar initiatives like Pinatex, AlgiKnit and MycoTex. That's why I also thought the voting was hard, because I want to support the designers and scientists who I know are working on these innovations for years and I simply don't know who they are at this point. Smart Stitch is a lovely initiative I hadn't heard about before, but I think the heating of the yarn could cause problems in terms of energy waste, and there's no information provided on how they'd like to solve that. That's why my vote went to The Regenerator. I think this will provide a very important solution to current recycling limitations.

The innovation with the most votes receives €300,000. The idea with the second most votes receives €250,000 followed by the third, fourth and fifth most votes that receive €150,000 each. The winners also get access to a one-year innovation accelerator. The accelerator takes the winners to Stockholm, New York and Shanghai providing a toolbox of skills, networks and exposure to help them leverage their innovations and grant. You can cast your vote until March 16.

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