SAVVY START-UPS: Topshop has teamed with the tech investment firm L Marks on an innovation program for emerging tech companies. The program, called Top Pitch, is focused on sourcing fashion-forward functional products and prototypes, including wearable technology and smart accessories, WWD has learned.

Start-ups can apply on toppitch.co until May 22. The selected companies will take part in a four-week digital scheme that offers mentorship, guidance and advice from industry names such as Rachel Arthur, founder of Fashion & Mash; Maddy Evans, fashion director of Topshop, and Bethany Koby, cofounder and chief executive officer of Technology Will Save Us.

The start-ups will present their product to Topshop owner Sir Philip Green and the winning company will win a chance to see their creation produced for Topshop.

“Topshop has long supported emerging talent in creative industries and this project serves to further this aim,” said Sheena Sauvaire, the retailer’s global marketing and communications director. “As a brand we champion new platforms of innovation and we see wearable technology as an exciting area of further exploration. The merge of style and function has yet to have been seen in a true consumer-ready sense and our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable product at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer.”

Last year, Green told WWD that he was looking to invest in start-up companies with a consumer bent. “Every single day, there are people looking to reinvent, in some way, the consumer experience. You cannot sit idly by. People are always going to go shopping — they like going to stores, they like shopping, but there are other things that are happening that you’ve got to be up to speed with. We’ve got to permanently keep progressing, improving,” said Green.

He added that he was looking closely, from the perspective of Topshop and Topman, at investments in “consumer-related online tech. It’s a place we’ve got to be in, it’s something we need to be doing. We have got to be a part of that next generation.”

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