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Meet The 2 Startups That Won This Year’s Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Challenge

While one of the startups is offering sustainable footwear options from Africa, the other is aiming to create technology to make its e-commerce platform more inclusive and diverse.

Lalaland and UZURI K&Y, two startups trying to reshape the fashion landscape, have won the third Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge. The frontrunners, who were awarded the €200,000 and mentorship prize package, have been recognised for driving social innovation and inclusivity in the fashion industry.

Lalaland is a Netherlands-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to generate customised and inclusive synthetic models of different ethnicities.. “Being part of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge brought incredible insights and will elevate our A.I. solution to reach more people than we could have imagined," Michael Musandu, a Co-Founder and CEO of the company said. “Through donning this achievement, our team cannot wait to empower a welcoming online shopping experience, so no consumer feels under-represented.”

Meanwhile, Rwandan UZURI K&Y is an eco-friendly shoe brand that uses recycled car tires from sub-Saharan Africa and employs local youth. “This opportunity has provided mentorship, strategic guidance, and given us a platform to share our dream of bringing sustainable footwear options from Africa to the global market,” Kevine Kagirimpundu, a Co-Founder and CEO, said. “We are dedicated to drive real impact and inspire the youth of today to craft a cleaner future.”

The winners were picked after six finalists pitched their concepts to a prestigious jury panel, which included the American designer himself and Yara Shahidi. And they will share a prize fund of €200,000 and receive a year-long mentorship with internal experts from Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD. As well as the mentorship from one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, they secured a place in one of its programmes that brings people, cultures and ideas together to cultivate innovative leaders.

“This empowering challenge brought together passionate and hard-working individuals with fresh ideas on how to create a future of fashion we can all look forward to,” Tommy Hilfiger said. “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 Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge is a dedicated global programme designed to find and support ideas that lead to a more inclusive fashion landscape. Echoing Tommy Hilfiger's mission to become a leading sustainable designer lifestyle company that Wastes Nothing and Welcomes All, this year’s edition saw over 430 startups and scaleups from 22 countries submit their ideas in January 2021 The programme particularly strived to amplify and support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour entrepreneurs who are working to advance their communities, while fostering a more inclusive future for the fashion industry. For the first time, fans of the Tommy Hilfiger brand were able to participate in the initial phases of the challenge, where they cast their digital vote to help narrow down the applications to identify the finalists. Alongside Tommy Hilfiger associates at the final event, they were also invited to vote for their favourite pitch to award an additional €15,000 to one of the finalists. This went to Clothes to Good, a South African-based social enterprise that creates micro-business opportunities and jobs for people with disabilities through textile recycling.

Applications for the fourth installment of the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge will open in March 2022. Entrepreneurs who are interested in receiving more information are invited to register here:

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