Seeking small but perfectly formed businesses to transform the fashion system

By Fashion Revolution

2 months ago

We are proud to launch our Europe-wide open call for SMEs in the fashion industry as part of the Small but Perfectly Formed accelerator project.

Small but Perfectly Formed is a cross-Europe collaborative project that will accelerate fashion SME’s to transition to work within circular and sustainable business models. The project aims to select 28 SME led projects from around Europe to support an 18-month project. The project will include a business development programme that will host an 8-month business accelerator and a 5-month R&D phase, culminating in a showcasing phase that will take place between July 2022 – April 2023. There is also a funding allocation of €10,275 per partnership.

“SMEs need tangible support but also a supportive environment to create or transition to circular and sustainable models and business practices’. Over an 18-month period the Small but Perfectly Formed accelerator programme will offer SMEs the business support required to focus on people, purpose and planet, rather than profit.” – Luisa Rodrigues, Program Manager at Impact Hub Lisbon

Our open call seeks to find projects working on a business idea for a product or service that will make the fashion industry more circular or sustainable from within. Applications should be from projects seeking to move beyond the concept or creative stage, that are ready to build towards a solution-based business. We anticipate projects coming from five broad groups:

  • Sustainable and circular fashion start-ups wishing to scale up and/or replicate
  • Established sustainable and circular SMEs who wish to develop their businesses and work internationally
  • Established fashion SMEs who wish to transition to a circular and sustainable model
  • SMEs and initiatives that provide circular and sustainable solutions to the fashion sector e.g. recycling
  • Collaborations between fashion sector and non-fashion sector SMEs, businesses and initiatives to generate and test new collaboration models

All applications to the programme must be made in partnership with other SMEs in two or more different eligible countries. Collaboration is more powerful than competition, and we need systemic change across the whole fashion supply chain.

This project recognises that small businesses can pave the way for systemic change in the fashion industry. Small businesses are the foundations upon which wider solutions across the industry can be introduced in a scalable and replicable manner that allows for long-term, sustainable change. They offer exciting, innovative solutions that can be replicated.

The selected SMEs will receive:

  • 8-month accelerator programme which will include 5 online modules, taking place in group webinar format, and 3 offline city bootcamps in Lisbon, Berlin and Athens enabling a deeper dive into topics and approaches.
  • Expert level business mentoring with industry leaders in Fashion, Social Enterprise, Technology and Circular Economy, as well as peer mentoring.
  • A 5-month self-led R&D phase including but not limited to: developing proofs of concept and prototypes of new products and services, creating and testing new business models, establishing collaborative methods to test sustainable/recycled materials and lab testing.
  • Financial support of €10,275 in the form of €6,000 R&D grant, €2250 travel grant for attending city bootcamps and €2025 showcasing grant.
  • Introduction to showcasing platform through Fashion Open Studio in collaboration with Neoynt.
  • Exclusive invites to networking and matchmaking events.
  • Access to resources generated by the project including acceleration toolkits, webinars, reports and insight.
  • Membership to the Small but Perfectly Formed network hosted on Common Objective.

We believe sustainability and circularity in the fashion industry is achievable through collaboration, education and sharing knowledge, therefore Small but Perfectly Formed is partnering with Common Objective – a global tech solution for the sustainable fashion industry – to create a network of circular and sustainable fashion SMEs, business support organisations and experts.

“When like-minded organisations work together, they can change the world. This is why we are working to build a network of change-makers and social enterprises who will transform fashion.” – Erinch Sahan, CEO of World Fair Trade Organisation.

The SME partnership projects selected for the accelerator will contribute through collaborative and interactive modules to an open-source SME accelerator toolkit. This toolkit will be utilised by the wider network of small businesses to transform their businesses to more circular, more sustainable enterprises. The project was founded on the basis that without changing the system, we cannot expect changes made – at any level – to be truly sustainable.

Small but Perfectly Formed will ‘accelerate the accelerators’ by working alongside business support organisations such as fashion weeks, fashion councils, industry bodies and financing/investment schemes to embed circularity, social and environmental sustainability into their business support and showcasing initiatives.

Small but Perfectly Formed will ‘accelerate the policymakers’ by mapping the policy landscape that affects sustainable and circular fashion SMEs, ensuring a lasting impact is made across the industry from start to finish. Over the course of the project, we will develop a network for SMEs making this transition as well as organisations that support them to exchange knowledge, learnings and best practice to effect wider systemic change in the fashion SME sector.

“Increasing the visibility of small businesses and practitioners will radically change the fashion and clothing panorama. Right now we are invaded by the sameness of the high street, be it high end or cheap, when in fact the alternatives to those models are where we will find real choice, real innovation, and the fashion future we are all looking for.” – Orsola De Castro, Founder and Global Creative Director at Fashion Revolution


Apply for the SME accelerator programme

Join the Small but Perfectly Formed network