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Young Pioneers returns with sustainability focus

Today we announce the return of the FashMash mentoring programme designed to support and nurture the next generation of industry talent dedicated to driving transformational change.


Launching during Fashion Revolution Week, the Young Pioneers initiative will this time focus on those wanting to shape a more sustainable future. It will team 12 senior FashMash members with a select group of those at the beginning of their careers. The programme is intended to be inclusive for all, but is designed particularly to support ethnic minorities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds. It launched in 2020 in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the wider ramifications of COVID-19, with a goal to actively provide opportunities for these less represented groups to succeed in the fashion industry.


After a highly successful first cohort, the second intake will launch in 2022. It is the first time it will focus specifically on sustainability, incorporating both environmental and social justice.


FashMash co-founders Rachel Arthur and Rosanna Falconer are looking for UK applicants who are in an entry-level position within or associated with fashion, are under 27 years old, and have an annual income of less than £25,000. Importantly, they must be able to demonstrate a keen interest in shaping a sustainable future for the industry through their career goals.


Those awarded a place will gain access to a six-month programme that includes monthly mentoring sessions from a sustainability-related senior FashMash member, networking with fellow alumni, invitations to the FashMash community’s biannual networking events as well as its mainline Pioneers speaker series, and a calendar of coaching sessions and intimate talks focused on personal and professional development.


The Business of Fashion (BoF) will additionally be supporting the Young Pioneers 2022 cohort with complimentary access to BoF Professional, providing agenda-setting intelligence, guidance and advice needed to navigate a career in the global fashion industry. Upon graduation from the programme, the Young Pioneers will also be invited to become full FashMash members.


Mentors for 2022 include: Akash Mehta, Founder & CEO, Fable & Mane; Ceanne Fernandes-Wong Co-Founder and CEO, Cocoon; Claire Bergkamp, COO, Textile Exchange; Esha Ahmed, Founder, Omi Na-Na; Jalaj Hora, Vice President of Product Innovation and Consumer Creation, Nike; Jessica Graves, Owner & Chief Strategist, Sefleuria; Rene Macdonald, Founder and Creative Director, Lisou; Rosie Wollacott Phillips, Group Sustainability Manager, Mulberry; Sarah Kent, Chief Sustainability Correspondent, The Business of Fashion; Shailja Dubé, Institute of Positive Fashion Lead, British Fashion Council; Steve Dool, Global Head of Brand Partnerships, Depop; and Susie Mashford, Marketing Director, Ganni.


“Pivoting to focus Young Pioneers on those wanting to shape the future of the fashion industry through a sustainability lens was a natural progression after so much interest in the topic from our first cohort. But it was also the only option for us - there is no future of this industry without such consideration at the core of business practice. We’re seeking the leaders of tomorrow who can demonstrate a dedication to transformation and we’re hoping to once again open up a world of further opportunity to them through our community, ” says Rosanna Falconer.


“Today’s leadership within the fashion industry simply isn’t representative, and the subsector of sustainability even less so. At the core of Young Pioneers is a recognition that true sustainable change from both an environmental and social justice standpoint will only happen if we ensure we have a pool of diverse and inclusive talent invited to the table,” says Rachel Arthur.


Our first Young Pioneers cohort (2020-2021) featured 12 trailblazers from the next generation. One connected so well with her mentor, she ended up working in a new position alongside her at Textile Exchange and has since been promoted again internally. Another used her relationship to set up and succeed with a crowdfunding initiative for her brand, establishing a sustainable and local supply chain. We have also seen one individual’s brand of sustainable streetwear shortlisted as a finalist in the Vogue Italia Yoox Challenge - a sustainable fashion competition for designers, creatives, innovators and start-ups. And finally, one was hired to work part-time for FashMash on everything from research to editing, while growing her own output in social media. She will also be supporting the 2022 Young Pioneers.

Consultant Frederica Brooksworth also returns to the programme working with FashMash to devise and curate the learning and development programme that will run alongside the mentoring. She brings a wealth of experience running mentoring schemes and developing educational content.


The next Young Pioneers programme will run from July 2022. Applications open today with a deadline of May 15, 2022. Find out more here.