eBay UK has formed a partnership with the British Fashion Council to launch the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund, offering £100,000 in funding for small businesses specialising in circular fashion solutions.
The Fund hopes to bring new technology and services to the market that can help people think and shop differently, with a particular focus on areas such as customer experience, circular inventory & services, and social commerce.
eBay UK brings its experience as the number one online resale marketplace for second-hand fashion in the market and will support the winners of the Fund to grow and thrive like the many thousands of small businesses already on the platform. The British Fashion Council will leverage its industry expertise and access to fashion innovation businesses to identify and assess the circular solutions that are most likely to succeed. Environmental charity, Hubbub will support in an advisory role, drawing on its experience in delivering high-profile grant funds.
Applications are open from now until Thursday 3rd November, and small businesses can apply via a simple form on eBay’s website here. A shortlist of ten businesses will be invited to pitch to a panel of industry experts from eBay and other leading organisations, who will then choose the six overall recipients of the funding.
Each of the six winning businesses will be awarded a £15,000 grant, and a final overall winner will receive an additional £10,000. On top of financial support, winners will participate in a six-week mentoring program, featuring one-on-one sessions with business leaders from eBay and organisations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as well as networking opportunities.
The Fund comes at a key moment for circular fashion, as appetite for second hand items continues to grow, with eBay UK selling two pre-loved fashion items every second. Growth in the sector has been particularly strong since eBay partnered with reality TV show Love Island in the summer: since the partnership launched, eBay saw 7,000% more searches for ‘pre-loved fashion’ on its site compared to the same period last year (May-August).
Lucy Peacock, Head of Pre-loved, eBay UK says: “There’s widespread acceptance across the fashion world that circularity is key for the long-term success of the industry. Over the past few years, there have been so many brilliant start-ups and small businesses that are changing the way we think about a circular fashion economy. We hope that the Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund will help scale these innovative start-ups in size and reach, and in turn make sustainable fashion practices more accessible to more people and businesses.”
Caroline Rush, CEO at the British Fashion Council adds: “Supporting excellence and innovation is at the core of what we do. We all have a part to play in creating a positive future for the fashion industry and now more than ever, it is crucial that the fashion community does its utmost to protect and nurture innovative start-ups and small businesses specialising in circular fashion solutions. Through our Institute of Positive Fashion, our main goal is to encourage global collaboration and local action through education and information sharing to help the British fashion industry to be more resilient and circular. The Circular Fashion Innovator’s Fund is an excellent initiative, and we look forward to seeing all the ideas that each applicant has to offer”.
The Fund builds on eBay’s long-standing support for the circular fashion economy: in 2021 eBay helped save over 17,770 tons of fashion items out of landfill – the equivalent of 1,404 double decker buses.