Weaving Change wins £30,000 for sustainable fashion

Weaving Change, a pioneering startup aiming to combat fast fashion through digital innovation, has secured £30,000 in funding by winning a share of the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition.

The company’s app, designed to digitise users' wardrobes and offer personalised outfit suggestions via a unique algorithm, impressed the judges and earned them a top spot in the competition.

Empowering sustainable fashion

Weaving Change’s mission is to make sustainable fashion more accessible, educate consumers on the harmful practices of the fashion industry, and foster a circular fashion economy. Their approach, which combines community engagement with cutting-edge technology, offers a fresh perspective on sustainable living, whilst embedding the principal of fun as a catalyst for positive change in all their initiatives.

According to the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, the statistics are stark: the fashion industry accounts for around 10% of global emissions, which is greater than the impact of shipping and aviation combined. Every second, a truckload of clothing is either discarded or incinerated, with less than 1% of garments being recycled.

The faces behind the initiative

The startup was co-founded by Weronika Stelmach and William Terry-Wright. Weronika, the CEO, graduated from the University of Bristol with a first-class Chemistry Master's degree and was awarded the Mike Rothwell Award for her outstanding performance. She is driven by the potential for innovation to make a positive impact in people’s daily lives. William, the COO, is an expert in computing and business. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Technology-Enhanced Chemical Synthesis. His extensive technical expertise is pivotal in developing their innovative solutions.

Addressing critical issues

Weaving Change’s motivation stems from the dire environmental and social issues associated with the fashion industry:

Environmental impact: As well as the industry being responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions, it also contributes to water pollution and the prevalence of microplastics in marine environments, with 35% of marine microplastics originating from synthetic clothing fibres. Producing a single pair of jeans requires 8,000 litres of water, equivalent to the amount of water a person drinks in seven years.

Social impact: The majority of garment workers, 80% of whom are women, do not receive a living wage. Furthermore, 93% of brands fail to pay fair wages, and hazardous working conditions are common, leading to long-term health issues.

Changing the narrative

Weaving Change aims to change how consumers interact with their wardrobes, encouraging a deeper connection with their clothing and a reduction in overconsumption. Through partnerships and hands-on workshops, they are creating a platform for discussions about sustainable fashion and helping individuals find their personal style.

Competition triumph

The New Enterprise Competition saw Weaving Change among four victorious businesses. Out of fifteen student and graduate startups, Weaving Change won £7,500 and a six-month membership at SETsquared Bristol, an award-winning tech incubator and competition sponsor. The startup aims to use this support to further develop its innovative app and expand its impact.

Other winners

The competition also recognised other innovative startups:

  • SLANT: Awarded £15,000 and a 12-month membership at SETsquared Bristol. The team is developing electric trolleys to reduce car dependency.
  • Accommodeep: Received £2,500 for creating a wearable deep pressure device to help alleviate anxiety.
  • Lettus Digest: Won the People’s Choice Award with a £1,500 prize for its waste management solution.