Parley, the nonprofit that works with brands like Adidas and Dior to turn plastic pollution into product components, is launching an investment arm to support new materials innovation.
The environmental organisation is aiming to provide long-term funding to next-generation start-ups that are taking on the environmental and social problems caused by plastic.
”We don’t see good investors out there,” said Parley founder and CEO Cyrill Gutsch. “There’s too much influence on the wrong side, pushing too fast on commercialisation and driven by short-term returns.”
Gutsch said Parley would also leverage its knowledge of fashion supply chains and connections to designers to help bring new materials to the market.
The company’s first investment is in Bananatex, a five-year-old company that produces a material made from banana plants. Gutsch has already introduced the material to Dior menswear designer Kim Jones, who has experimented with the material to create a one-off jacket: an illustration of Gutsch’s ambition to get top creatives to engage with new materials with a view to eventually incorporating them into commercial collections.
”Designers in the fashion houses are, for us, more or less the best advocates,” said Gutsch.
A grim economic climate has tempered enthusiasm for risky investments, but fashion companies and executives like H&M, Kering and Stella McCartney still see opportunity in start-ups pursuing sustainability solutions.