London startup, Koalaa, whose ‘world-first’ soft prosthetics aid inclusivity and comfort for individuals with limb differences, has been crowned the winner of a global competition launched by leading fashion brand, TOMMY HILFIGER.
Koalaa was named the winner of this year’s Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge, alongside Bangladeshi startup Moner Bondhu. The Challenge, now in its fourth edition, aims to build a more inclusive fashion industry by highlighting the world’s most innovative teams and ideas.
Over 250 applications were received for the latest Challenge from social entrepreneurs based across the world. Following an intensive, year-long selection process, five finalists were invited to present their solutions at a special pitching event held at the Tommy Hilfiger global headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The Koalaa team impressed judges with their unique concept for soft, fabric-based prosthetic arms that are blurring the line between prosthetics and clothing. Thanks to their design, Koalaa’s prosthetics are incredibly light and comfortable to wear, as well as far more affordable. This is helping to break down barriers to access and use of prosthetics – which can be lifechanging for individuals with limb differences – including in war-torn and developing countries.
For taking the top spot, Koalaa has been awarded a prize of €100,000, along with an additional €15,000 for also being voted ‘Audience Favorite’. In addition, Koalaa is to receive a year of mentoring with experts from Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business school, and will join the INSEAD Hans Wahl Impact Entrepreneurship Program, which is designed to cultivate innovative leaders.
Nate Macabuag, founder of Koalaa, said: “Heading to Amsterdam and pitching to Tommy Hilfiger and all the other judges and associates was just incredible, and I’m so proud of the team. Winning this challenge is such fantastic recognition for all that we are trying to achieve to help aid inclusivity and empower the limb difference community. It means we can accelerate our impact and the growing Koalaa community, to support even more people who would benefit from our prosthetics. A huge thank you to the judges for believing in us.”
Tommy Hilfiger’s mission is to become a leading sustainable designer lifestyle company that “Wastes Nothing and Welcomes All,” through how it creates its product, manages its operations and connects with its communities and stakeholders.
Applications for the fifth Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge will open later in 2023.