As part of Shanghai Fashion Week, Kering and global innovation platform Plug and Play held the first “K Generation Talk & Award Ceremony.”
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They recognized three Chinese startups, Melephant, Heyuan, and FeiLiu Technology for their disruptive innovations addressing sustainability challenges in the textile value chain.
“As one of the world’s largest economies, China can play a critical role in pioneering global sustainable solutions. With the K Generation Award, we wanted to ignite cross-industry collaborations and to empower the next generation to find and scale innovations for sustainable and ethical fashion. The three startups are representative of China’s strengths. With a focus on supply chain, they help tackle issues from chemicals and clean water to better and more modern production,” said François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kering.
In line with Kering’s motto Crafting Tomorrow’s Luxury, the K Generation Award was launched in December 2018 to recognize and support Chinese startups who can bring about positive environmental and social impact in alternative raw materials, green supply chain, retail & use and the circular economy.
Melephant, the first awardee and winner of a 100,000€ grant, provides natural dyes from organic waste in a circular, no-waste system. Second awardee, Heyuan has an innovative water treatment technology for printing and dyeing. Third awardee, FeiLiu Tech offers supply chain optimization through AI that allows for small batch runs to avoid over production.
From December 2018 to August 2019, under the leadership of Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs, many Chinese startups participated and put forward their own sustainable innovation projects.
50 startups were examined in detail to arrive at the final three winners selected by a jury of leading industry figures in the fields of fashion, luxury, entrepreneurship, sustainability and innovation.
Jury members included Cai Jinqing, President of Kering Greater China; Burak Cakmak, Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design; Hung Huang, a writer and top media influencer; Ma Jun, Founding Director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs; Katrin Ley, Managing Director of Fashion for Good; Susan Rockefeller, a well-known figure in the world of art, philanthropy and sustainability; Wang Shi, Founder, Vanke Group; Wang Zhen, President of Erdos Cashmere Group; Yin Guoxin, Chairman of
“We were looking for early-stage innovations from startups that present new solutions with the goal to reinvent the fashion industry. These innovations can really make a difference here in China and hopefully abroad as well,” said Peter Xu, Executive Director and CEO, Plug and Play China.
“The purpose of the K Generation Award is to serve as a catalyst for these startups to get exposure to other regions and support through the Kering and Plug and Play networks. During their trip to the US and Europe, which is a main feature of the K Generation Award prize, the three startups will meet with potential partners, suppliers and investors. They will also meet other innovators in Europe and the US and exchange on ideas and ways of working,” says Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and
Head of International Institutional Affairs, Kering.
In addition to jury members, leaders in business and sustainability including François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, Christine Goulay, Kering Sustainable Innovation Senior Manager, Li Shiyang, Chief Representative at RARE, Simon Chen, GM of Indidye, Yeh Shaway, Founder of YehYehYeh, Michael Olmstead, Chief Revenue Officer, Plug and Play and Peter Xu, Director and CEO, Plug and Play China were invited to share their own insights and experiences at K Generation Talk.
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A series of discussions ranging from China’s unique innovation environment to the respective merits of retro and disruptive innovations, the role of entrepreneurs in innovation, and the path towards empowering the next fashion generation were well-received by the audience.