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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.

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e-commerce Startups technology

ASOS teams with Telefónica’s Wayra for fashion tech accelerator programme

asos1

ASOS is the latest retailer to announce plans to support start-ups with a dedicated accelerator programme. The London-based e-commerce company is partnering with Wayra UK (part of telecommunications company Telefónica’s Open Future division), to run a search for the world’s most innovative young fashion technology businesses.

The aim is to find those that will make the ASOS experience easier, more enjoyable and more personalised for its 11 million customers around the world.

This translates to meaningful solutions that allow customers to find the perfect item among the 80,000+ products on ASOS.com; native mobile and web experiences; technology that can further the company’s fulfilment proposition; and new ways of understanding and rewarding customers.

“ASOS has always been known as a digital leader and this partnership will help us continue to serve the needs of our customers as they evolve. There are specific areas where we would like to accelerate innovation, but we are also excited to hear what ideas come back from the start-ups themselves,” says Cliff Cohen, ASOS CIO.

Importantly, the team is not looking for start-ups in the wearable tech, 3D printing or fashion design space. What they do want are mature start-ups with proven track records of developing technologies, products and services that will complement the ASOS experience.

Over the course of eight months, the chosen start-ups will have access to office space within Wayra UK’s academy in central London, intensive mentoring, and £34,000 in direct investment. The businesses will also have potential access to Telefónica’s customer base (more than 300 million) and ASOS’s networks locally and globally.

Telefónica has previously worked with start-ups including RotaGeek, which enabled O2 to reinvest £2.5M in customer experience with its smart scheduling system, and Qudini, which is now the preferred queue management system for Telefónica across 21 countries.

“[These] are great proof-points as to how we can help ASOS disrupt the fashion retail space and internationalise the propositions our start-ups are developing,” says Bridget Lea, retail Director at Telefónica UK.

The call for start-up submissions is open until 9am on Monday May 23 via Wayra.co.uk/ASOS.