The first edition of the Circular Fashion Games wrapped up last month in the Netherlands, but international expansion is already planned.
A field of 76 contenders from an array of countries was whittled to three, with this year’s top prize going to Lenzing for an online tool that will provide free access to information about circular use of the company’s fibers in apparel design. Design is evaluated and scored based on a recyclability scale to determine whether a garment qualifies for the Lenzing Take-Back program. The concept’s creators — Sabine Silaraja, Jasper Roosendaal, Melissa Ortuno de León and Marijn Pronker — will now be part of an accelerator program to build a platform to allow users to make the right design choices.
Made possible through the lead sponsor C&A Foundation, and the business developer Veerle Luiting, the Circular Fashion Games are designed to encourage circular design thinking and circular business modeling. Not restricted to fashion students and designers, the event welcomes creatives from different disciplines. The multidisciplinary teams competed in boot camps at the SingularityU Netherlands in Eindhoven and another one organized by Fashion for Good and Impact Hub Amsterdam.
Start Up Mix chief executive officer Johnny Kerkhof, who is helping to guide the winners through an accelerator program, said, “This is pretty much my alternative to how the universities should function — more skill-based, more creativity-oriented, more real world learning opportunities. Participants never fail to amaze with what they come up with if you give them space and time to apply their talent.”
Second place went to Waste2Wear’s “Nozzle: Electrospinning for textile winning.” Interestingly, the concept — created by Justine Amelung, Jennifer de Jonge, Isabel Brenner and Rozanne Henzen in eight days — was similar to one that G-Star had developed over a significantly longer period of time, Kerkhof said. They are trying to integrate plastics other than PET and PP in the supply chain of textiles. G-Star’s head of design attended one of the Circular Fashion Games’ public events in Amsterdam last month and contacted the foursome. Both Waste2Wear and G-Star are now considering how they might work together, Kerkhof said.
Executives at G-Star did not respond immediately Tuesday for a request for comment.
Another team, the Dutch company Circle Economy, suggested an app, Closet.Pal, that would include sharing and repairing platforms, allowing users to upload images of not only what’s in their closets, but also seeking individuals who might be able to repair selected items. Through its work with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, the Dutch company already had developed the Closet Mass Index, inspired by the Body Mass Index. The Circle Economy team advanced that concept into an app in two weeks’ time, Kerkhof said. With that criteria, consumers can rate how sustainable or circular their closets are, how many garments they have, etc. “If you go into a mall or a shop, that tool would advise which garments to buy or not to buy,” Kerkhof said. “What we’re now doing with the circle economy is seeing how we can support those teams to find resources and funds to actually build that app.”
Noting that he is also closely connected to the Green Brains, a 135-person team of leading scientists in the Netherlands who apply themselves to help companies attain more sustainable production practices, Kerkhof said, “Together, through my company and that network, we try to get as many young people involved and inside companies’ walls to use these creative tools to accelerate that transition.”
The second installment of the Circular Fashion Games will be held in the Netherlands in October or November, before taking the program internationally once local collaborators are in place.
In addition to giving young talent a fast track to be heard by companies and involved with creating actual change, the Circular Games are meant to “trigger actual product or service innovation so the outcome — especially in this case because fashion has very high-end outcomes — are tangible steps for companies to take if they are serious about testing more sustainable production,” Kerkhof said. In addition, employees “get inspired, energetic and connected to each other,” while learning what other companies are doing. “We also try to empower employees to give them the tools to go back to their own companies, get their colleagues and management teams involved to actually create more sustainable fabrics, closer supply chain cooperation and to step away from fast fashion,” Kerkhof said.
“I hope that on the management level of companies there will be a recognition for the role that young talented people have to play. I always say, ‘There are so many young talented people around that can be innovators for good, for circularity or sustainability,’” Kerkhof said. “They are locked away in universities and companies. But if we can connect them and give them the right tools, using the same method that Elon Musk uses, you can radically change industries for good if you rely on risk-taking entrepreneurs.”