INNOVATIONS is an annual sustainable fashion show, hosting a series of sustainable fashion design challenges for students, stylists, and the greater Twin Cities community to redefine sustainability for fashion.

Students who enter the Sustainable Fashion Design Challenge will have the opportunity to compete for two scholarship prizes, which will be determined during the INNOVATIONS runway show.  

What is SUSTAINABLE Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a practice of designing and making garments that consider principles of social responsibility and environmental sustainability along a product’s lifespan.

What is the Sustainable Fashion Design Challenge?

The Sustainable Design Challenge sponsored by Sol Inspirations is an opportunity for students to gain insight about the social and ecological issues surrounding the current state of the fashion industry.  Students are given the opportunity to experiment with sustainable garment construction and conceptualize ways they can contribute to fair labor practices and reduce their carbon footprint throughout their design career.

The Sustainable Design Challenge asks emerging student designers to utilize sustainable design techniques and practices, while creating garments that are runway ready. Garments are judged by a panel of fashion and sustainability industry professionals for a chance to win one of two scholarship prizes.  

Designers will be asked to select an inspirational theme for their garments, based on an element of sustainability outside of fashion. Designers will explore other organization’s sustainable projects and will create one or two looks inspired by an element of sustainability that these projects focus around.  This year’s elements of sustainability themes to choose from include: water, energy, agriculture, technology, and food waste. Designers will take their garment design beyond the limits of fabric,using pre and post consumer waste as a medium, all while including sustainable practices and philosophies into runway ready looks.

Participants will have access to coaching and mentorship opportunities from local designers and industry experts during two open workshops throughout the design process. Professional photos of looks will be taken and shared with participants after the show for their portfolio.

What are the contest requirements?

Design participants can submit up to two designs to showcase on the Innovations runway for a chance to win a prize.  

  • 1 avant-garde look made of unconventional, found material (non-fabric).  

    • Eligible for the Sustainable Fashion Design Challenge prize.

  • 1 ready to wear look made of found or repurposed material OR sustainable textiles and notions.

    • Eligible for the People’s Choice prize.

All garments must consist of at least 70% sustainable materials, 30% traditional (muslin interiors are acceptable for shape and fit). All materials must be documented using our sustainable materials certification form.

Who can apply?

Any design student over the age of 18, that is currently enrolled in an accredited university or collegiate program.

What are the prizes?

Prizes will be announced in Summer 2019.

What is the judging process?

Before the runway show, judges will be given each participant’s design statement and sustainability theme. Both looks will walk the runway during the first part of the Innovations fashion show.

During intermission the students will have a one-on-one opportunity to talk directly with the panel of judges to discuss their garment, the inspiration behind it, and showcase what sustainability techniques and standards were incorporated into the design process. During this interview, judges are encouraged to ask questions about designs. A score tie will be broken by judge’s decision.

What is the application process?

Applications will open in Summer of 2019.

What are the themes?

A catalog of projects for designers to chose from is provided to guide the theme for each submission. All projects are innovative Midwest based organizations or initiatives focused on a specific element within the field of sustainability. Each student must pick one project from the topics/themes listed below and use it as the inspiration behind their looks for Innovations 2019.




Tech Dump

Sustainability focus: Sustainable Technology

Sustainable technology is defined by resources that are renewable in function or creation. In order for technology to be sustainable, it also means that using it does not have any long-term adverse impact on the environment.

Tech dump is an organization that works to ethically and sustainably recycle our old technology by providing jobs, building education around discarded tech gear and finding new life and proper recycling methods.


MN Renewables

Sustainability focus: Green Energy

Green energy comes from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, plants, algae and geothermal heat. These energy resources are renewable, meaning they're naturally replenished.

This organization is a non-profit dedicated to providing education and accessibility to renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power. Organization also sponsors large scale awareness projects like the Eco Experience, a sustainable garden at the state fair, or the Solar Boat Regatta, a community hosted contest to build and race solar powered boats.


Water Bar

Sustainability focus: Water Conservation

Water conservation encompasses the policies, strategies and activities made to manage fresh water as a sustainable resource, to protect the water environment, and to meet current and future human demand.

The organization brings a fresh take to beverages while advocating for responsible and informed water consumption.


Urban Organics

Sustainability focus: Closed Loop Farming

Sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.

Urban Organics is working to fix a broken food system one delicious meal at a time. The concept is simple. Local equals fresh. Fresh equals nutritious. Nutritious equals healthy, for people and community. The process is equally simple. Urban Organics farms with aquaponics, where fish and plants help each other grow. The organization works to inspire a better food system for the people, by the people


Open Feasts

Sustainability focus: Food Waste

A sustainable food system a collaborative community that integrates various points of the food supply chain in order to enhance a community's environmental, economic and social well-being. It is built on principles that further the ecological, social and economic values of a community and region.

This organization is a collaboration of several local groups who are passionate about recovering food from farms, wholesalers, and retailers to give food that would otherwise be discarded new life. Open feasts provides the community an opportunity to get together and address this issue by hosting large community meals.