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The CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge is relaunching in a major way. Now dubbed the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative, the erstwhile competition has expanded into a full-fledged business-development program, complete with a 17-month virtual residency program for 10 participating brands. The initiative’s goal? To “inspire thought leadership, facilitate the implementation of innovative business practices and create meaningful change” within the American fashion industry, according to the organizers, which include such eco-insiders as Linda Greer from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Timo Rissanen from Parsons The New New School of Design, fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, Jason Kibbey from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Lewis Perkins of Fashion Positive, Barbara Burchfield and Olivia Wilde from Conscious Commerce, Amber Valleta of Master & Muse, Alabama Chanin’s Natalie Chanin, and Scott Hahn from Loomstate.

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At the end of the program, the brands that have “most significantly evolved their companies’ ethos to a higher standard of sustainability and social responsibility” will be awarded a grand prize of $150,000 and two runner-up prizes of $50,000 each.

“At Lexus we are trying to pave the way towards a more sustainable future, from our eco-friendly line of hybrids to supporting imaginative, innovative fashion designers that the world will want to know about and invest in,” Lexus’ engagement marketing manager, Andrea Lim, who first shepherded the partnership between the automobile maker and the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2010, told Ecouterre.

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“Expanding our sustainable fashion program with the CFDA will provide designers the opportunity to explore new solutions with critical rigor and the tools to create meaningful change within the industry,” she added.

Interested parties that can provide evidence—with “measurable intent”—of a commitment toward conscious business practices, are welcome to apply online from now through September 14 at

The program will commence in New York City this October and draw to a close in April 2017.

+ CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative