Fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has announced the Dutch artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Lalaland and ‘sustainable’ Rwandan business Uzuri K&Y as the winners of the latest Fashion Frontier Challenge, a dedicated worldwide program designed to find and support ideas that lead to a more inclusive fashion landscape.
On the 12th and 13th of January, the program's final virtual event took place, during which the six finalists presented their ideas to a prestigious jury panel. The winners will share a prize fund of €200,000 and will be mentored for a year by Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD, one of the world's most prestigious and largest graduate business schools. They were also accepted into an INSEAD program that brings together people, cultures, and ideas in order to develop innovative leaders.
In January 2021, over 430 startups and scaleups from 22 countries submitted their ideas for this program, which echoes Tommy Hilfiger's environmental philosophy of "Waste Nothing, Welcome All."
This year's program focused on highlighting and supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs who are working to better their communities while also promoting a more inclusive future for the fashion industry.
Fans of the TOMMY HILFIGER brand were able to participate in the challenge's early stages for the first time, casting digital votes to help narrow down the applications and determine the finalists. At the final event, Tommy Hilfiger associates were also allowed to vote for their favorite pitch in order to win an additional €15,000 to one of the finalists.
Tommy Hilfiger said that this uplifting challenge brought together enthusiastic and hardworking individuals with fresh ideas on how to create a fashion future that they can all look forward to. He is proud to continue this journey with the entrepreneurs that offered revolutionary and impactful solutions that challenge how we think, construct, and create.
Lalaland, a Netherlands-based platform that employs artificial intelligence to create customized and inclusive synthetic models of many races, received a €100,000 grant.
Michael Musandu, co-founder, and CEO of Lalaland, said that creating technology that creates a more inclusive and varied e-commerce platform is at the heart of their vision. Being a part of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge provided invaluable insights and will help their artificial intelligence solution reach far more people than they could have imagined. Their team is ecstatic to be able to empower a friendly online purchasing experience, ensuring that no consumer feels underrepresented.
UZURI K&Y, a Rwandan eco-friendly shoe manufacturer that employs local youth and uses recycled vehicle tyres from Sub-Saharan Africa, was also awarded €100,000.
Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y, said they're thrilled to be declared a winner of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge. This opportunity has provided them with mentorship, strategic assistance, and a platform to communicate their ambition of providing sustainable footwear solutions from Africa to the worldwide market. They're committed to making a meaningful difference and inspiring today's youth to create a better tomorrow.
Clothes to Good, a South African social venture that uses textile recycling to provide micro-business opportunities and jobs for persons with disabilities, was awarded €15,000.
Tammy Greyling, Operations Director and Occupational Therapist at Clothes to Good, said that they feel fortunate to have been acknowledged by the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge viewers; it's an event they'll never forget. It's humbling to know that others share their desire to make a genuine difference in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Clothes to Good will be able to continue building micro-businesses and job opportunities in the South African community as a result of receiving this award.
The fourth installment of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge will open for applications in March 2022.
Tommy Hilfiger's mission is to become a leading sustainable creative lifestyle brand that Wastes Nothing and Welcomes All in the way it creates products, runs operations, and interacts with its communities and stakeholders.
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