Stella McCartney's Spring 2019 campaign

LONDON — Sustainability will be at the heart of the next Dream Assembly, the technology accelerator program founded by Farfetch that provides start-ups with access to mentorship, networking opportunities and early-stage funding.

On Friday, Farfetch will reveal that it’s partnering with a longstanding champion of sustainability, Stella McCartney, on the second Dream Assembly edition as it seeks applications from seed-stage start-ups that drive social or environmental benefit.

Stephanie Phair, chief strategy officer at Farfetch, said in an interview that sustainability had “emerged naturally” as a theme among the start-ups that took part in Dream Assembly last year.

For the second cohort of start-ups, she said Farfetch wanted to swivel the spotlight onto young companies’ sustainability efforts as well as their growth potential.

Stella McCartneyBloomberg and Vanity Fair Gala Dinner, London, United Kingdom - 11 Dec 2018

Stella McCartney  Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“We really believe that the fashion industry has a huge part to play in shaping a sustainable future. That is why, with this new cohort, we want to open up the Dream Assembly opportunity to companies that are shaping the future of commerce in a sustainable way,” Phair said.

In 2018, Dream Assembly’s inaugural year, Farfetch worked with 11 start-ups from nine different countries. They included Turkey’s Buy Buddy, the creator of a smart shopping device that provides real-time inventory, product security and customer behavior data to retailers.

Other Dream Assembly companies included the U.S.-based company WiShi, which connects customers with an online personal stylist; Fashpa, a global marketplace for African fashion and design, and Auverture, a Netherlands-based fine jewelry company that sources designs from artists and artisans around the world.

Phair said Farfetch immediately reached out to McCartney once it had decided on the sustainability theme. “Of course we called Stella. She wants to share her expertise and her journey, and she also understands that sustainability is not a one-brand effort or a marketing tag,” Phair said. “She is very clear that sustainability starts at the source, with the fabric, and her journey will be invaluable to these new businesses.”

The start-ups will take part in mentorship meetings covering topics including e-commerce, marketing, technology, fashion, logistics and operations, and will have direct access to Farfetch’s expertise in the luxury fashion and technology industries, the e-commerce giant said.

Starting in Lisbon in April, the 10-week program will include workshops, one-to-one sessions with senior leaders from Farfetch and other companies. It will culminate with a demo day in London, where the companies will have the chance to pitch their projects to a selected pool of external investors to secure follow-on funding.

Applications to join Farfetch Dream Assembly’s second cohort will open Friday on dreamassembly.com and will close at midnight GMT on Sunday, March 3.

Burberry

Burberry  Courtesy Photo

Claire Bergkamp, worldwide director of sustainability and innovation at Stella McCartney, said the company has been working across all elements of sustainability.

“We have worked with several start-up companies with a focus on innovation and reducing negative impact, and so the goal of Farfetch Dream Assembly is truly aligned with what we do,” she said.

Burberry, a Dream Assembly launch partner, is taking part for the second time. The company has been ranked the leading luxury brand in the textiles, apparel and luxury goods sector in the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Pamela Batty, vice president of corporate responsibility at Burberry, said: “We are hugely supportive of this year’s focus on sustainability. We believe open innovation and collaboration are necessary to addressing the challenges facing the fashion and luxury industry and building a more sustainable future. We are excited to see the solutions they come up with.”