Fabric of Change calls for innovations for building a fair and sustainable apparel industry

Submitted on Fri, September 18, 2015

Submitted by: Tsega Belachew on 09/18/15

Editor's Note: This article was written by Kristie Wang of the Ashoka Changemakers team.

Hosted by C&A Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers, the challenge will award more than €100,000 in prizes to support innovative solutions

More than likely, the clothes you’re wearing were made in a sweatshop. While “sweatshop fury” peaked in the 90s, major brands are still unable--or unwilling--to eliminate child labor and life-threatening working conditions from their supply chains. Two years ago, the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh once again spotlighted deeply rooted problems within the apparel industry.

Yet, while there is a growing attention on fashion’s perpetuation of poverty, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation, large-scale change has been slow to take hold. Today, fast fashion’s dominant business model exacerbates the sustainability challenges faced by the industry.

Innovative solutions that touch key pressure points and unlock systemic change are needed. To disrupt business as usual and uncover fresh pathways toward achieving change, C&A Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers have partnered to launch Fabric of Change: Innovating for a Sustainable Apparel Industry. This online challenge seeks innovations for building a fair and sustainable apparel industry across the entire value chain--from farms and factories, to supply chain conglomerates, brands, retailers, and consumers.

Winners will receive prizes totaling more than €100,000 to support their solutions. Three special prizes will be awarded to innovators between the ages of 18 and 24.

“We need to transform the way the apparel industry works,” said Leslie Johnston, Executive

Director of C&A Foundation. “Unsafe working conditions, gender discrimination, and exploitation of garment workers are among the many challenges facing apparel. Through innovation, collaboration, and a change in mindset we have the potential to transform fashion into a force for good, creating an industry in which every man and woman --from farmers to garment workers —can thrive.”

The challenge welcomes entries from around the world. A panel of expert judges will select the most promising initiatives to receive funding for scaling, refining, or testing their solutions. Challenge finalists will be invited to present their work to industry leaders at the Fabric of Change Summit, to be held in the spring of 2016. Winners of the challenge will be announced at the Summit.

“Fabric of Change will bring together social innovators and experts who have the ability to truly catalyze a transformation within the apparel industry,” said Diana Wells, President of Ashoka. “Building a strong, collaborative network of problem-solvers will be a tremendous step forward toward empowering everyone in the fashion value chain to creative positive change.”

The enter the challenge and find out more, visit changemakers.com/fabricofchange.  Share with @changemakers how you are a part of the #FabricOfChange

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