Tommy Hilfiger has announced the two winners of the third edition of its Fashion Frontier Challenge to be Lalaland and Uzuri K&Y, which have each been recognised for their inclusivity in the fashion industry.
The winners were selected during the programme’s virtual closing event, at which six finalists pitched their concepts to a jury panel consisting of esteemed fashion leaders, including Hilfiger himself. The finalists were chosen from more than 430 applications of start-ups and scale-ups from 22 countries.
This year, the programme sought to amplify and support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour entrepreneurs who were working to advance their communities, while striving for a more inclusive fashion industry. In a first of its kind activation, fans of Tommy Hilfiger could cast their vote to help narrow down the selection of initial finalists.
The winners will equally share a prize fund of 200,000 euros, as well as a year-long mentorship with internal experts from Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD, a nonprofit graduate business school. They will also take part in one of the school’s programmes dedicated to culture and innovation.
Leading the way for inclusivity in fashion
Netherlands-based Lalaland was one of the two winners. The company utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to create customised and inclusive synthetic models of different ethnicities.
In a release, the CEO and co-founder of the company, Michael Musandu, said: “Creating technology that drives a more inclusive and diverse e-commerce platform is at the heart of our vision at Lalaland. Being part of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge brought incredible insights and will elevate our AI solution to reach more people than we could have imagined. Through donning this achievement, our team cannot wait to empower a welcoming online shopping experience, so no consumer feels underrepresented.”
Rwandan brand Uzuri K&Y was the second winner of the challenge, selected for its eco-friendly shoe production that uses recycled car tires from sub-Saharan Africa and its employment of local youth. Kevine Kagirimpundu, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said she was “honoured” to be a winner and the programme has given her “a platform to share our dream of bringing sustainable footwear options from Africa to the global market”.
An additional winner that was awarded 15,000 euros was revealed to be Clothes to Good, which was selected by fan votes as a favourite pitch. The South African-based social enterprise creates micro-business opportunities and jobs for people with disabilities through textile recycling.
Hilfiger concluded: “This empowering challenge brought together passionate and hardworking individuals with fresh ideas on how to create a future of fashion we can all look forward to. It was an impressive final event, and I am proud to continue this journey with the entrepreneurs who presented groundbreaking and impactful solutions that challenge how we think, build and create.”
The application process for the fourth instalment of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge is set to open in March 2022.