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London’s CFE introduces fashion tech start-ups for second incubator programme

Centre for Fashion Enterprise
The Centre for Fashion Enterprise has been supporting fashion businesses since 2003

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise has announced the latest businesses to be joining its FashTech Pioneer Programme.

The London College of Fashion-based incubator aims to support entrepreneurs who want to redefine the future of the industry, and it believes technology is at the forefront of that world.

Among its latest cohort is a diverse spectrum of SMEs accordingly, including a co-creation and crowdfunding platform called Awaytomars, a fintech for fashion app called Cashmere, and a customisable fine jewellery brand called Gilded Lab. Also included is Meame, a performance fashion brand; Tinker Design, which provide massaging insole artisan shoes; and the customisable footwear of Solely Original.

“Through this programme, we aim to bridge the gap between fashion, technology and digital industries and support product and process innovation,” says Ishwari Thopte, fashion tech project officer at the CFE. “With the decline of traditional fashion business models and changing consumption patterns, there’s an urgent need for emerging designers and brands to find innovative and disruptive routes to market. We firmly believe that the future of the fashion industry lies in the intelligent use and adaptation of technology.”

Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the six-month programme is designed to offer fashion tech brands a wide range of business support. Each of the start-ups chosen were done so on the basis of having a unique and scalable business idea, having the potential to disrupt existing industry models, and being at a stage where the scheme can add adequate value, Thopte explained.

Said the team from Awaytomars: “As a fresh start-up we’re looking forward to benefiting from the CFE mentors’ years of experience in a variety of sectors. We want to build collaborative relationships with them and the other programme participants. We’re hoping to use the opportunities provided by taking part to challenge ourselves and develop a strong, positive and sustainable brand offer for our community members and for the fashion industry.”

Megan Aylot, co-founder of Meame, added: “It will be great to have mentors with knowledge in the tech side of fashion and be able to help strategise a way to increase sales. I’m looking forward to the diagnostic meeting and creating a personalised programme for our business. Contacts and referrals to retail buyers that are relevant will be a great bridge for Meame and I’m hoping will lead to firm sales. Finally access to finance and direct links to investors will be a big part of moving our business forwards.”

The CFE ran its first FashTech Pioneer Programme in 2015, taking on nine businesses across a variety of subsectors including e-commerce, smart textiles and big data. The idea came off the back of networking events, Thopte explains: “We started organising fashion tech meet-ups in 2014 in an attempt to get fashion, tech and digital creatives together and start facilitating conversations that would lead to cross pollination of ideas across different sectors. We soon realised that fashion tech businesses were unique when compared to the two different sectors they fused together and needed tailored support in order to succeed.”

The CFE is otherwise in its 13th year of operating and has helped designers including Erdem, Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou fast-track into businesses.