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Inspirational visit to the Clothworkers’ Centre textile archive, London

03 August 2014 by Editor

New to the Texprint programme for July 2014 was a visit to the Clothworkers' Centre in west London, the most important national and international centre for fashion and textiles.

Based at Blythe House, the newly restored building brings the V&A's extensive textiles and fashion collection together under one roof, providing appropriate storage to enhance the long-term care of the collection, and providing facilities for conservation, storage, research and education. The V&A holds one of the most important collections of textiles and fashion in the world, ranging from archaeological textiles to contemporary street fashion and haute couture.

Guided by lead curator Edwina Ehrman and colleagues, the 24 Texprint designers were shown around the lofty and rather daunting corridors and conservation studios of this extraordinary building, completing the tour with a special presentation of key textile pieces laid out for inspection on the huge tables of the spacious public study room.

Dress worn by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell

Silvered leather dress designed by Gareth Pugh

Once the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank and originally designed by Sir Henry Tanner between 1899 and 1903, the sensitively designed restoration of this Grade II listed building was carried out by architects Haworth Tompkins Architects.

The corridors are lined with free-standing and rolling archive cabinets which incorporate 500m of hanging space and more than 7,000 drawers. Each of the over 104,000 items meticulously labelled and logged. The upper floor houses the conservation studio, washing and dyeing rooms.

The project to create this state-of-the-art facility was funded by a grant from the Clothworkers’ Foundation (also Foundation Sponsors of Texprint) augmented by additional support from other sources, and forms part of the V&A’s ambitious FuturePlan, which is turning spaces previously used as storage into public galleries.

The Clothworkers' Centre is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London, and is open by appointment to visitors and groups who would like to study and research objects in the textiles and fashion study collections. 

 

Article tags: fashion (34), general (52), texprint 2014 (9)

Texprint in new creative skills initiative

29 July 2014 by Roger Tredre

Alumnae Florence Colson and Emma J Shipley, Matthew Hancock MP, Joanna Bowring and Helga Goldman, Texprint

Job opportunities for young textile and print designers look set to improve thanks to a new partnership between government and industry supported by Texprint.

The new initiative, backed by the UK government, could be hugely beneficial for young textile and print designers seeking to launch their careers.

The concept works like this: The government will provide funding for up to £183,000 to Texprint over the next two years, with roughly half of that money allocated specifically for a paid internship scheme for up to 20 designers.

For each designer, the government will contribute £4,750 on condition that the sum is matched by the employer. That means subsidised internships worth £9,500.

The concept is known as the Employer Ownership Pilot Round 2 (EOP2), a rather unwieldy title that disguises the bold and important nature of the initiative. The UK government likes to point out that the UK creative industries generate £71bn in revenue each year and support 1.71m jobs. Business Secretary Vince Cable says: "The creative industries play a key role in the UK economy."

Designer Emma J Shipley, a high-profile alumna of Texprint, says: "This is fantastic news for Texprint and means they’ll be able to offer even more support for talented textile graduates. Internships are one of the best ways of starting out in the industry and it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the very best in new textile design talent.”

Shipley found herself hobnobbing with government ministers at the high-profile launch at Channel 4 on July 14. The ministers were a little nervy – jumpy even. There was an explanation: Prime Minister David Cameron was in the middle of his Cabinet reshuffle. That's why Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, and Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills & Enterprise, were never far from their mobile phones while they waited for updates.

We learned later that both 'survived' the reshuffle – indeed, they prospered. Vaizey's role has been expanded to include digital industries, while Hancock has celebrated a promotion to Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy.

That they took time out on the eve of learning about their new roles emphasised the importance of the initiative, which they have both championed. David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4, which is leading the project of behalf of over 400 creative industry partners in the scheme, explained that the initiative is creating internships right across the creative sector. "It's a fragmented set of industries that has [previously] struggled to speak to government with one voice... This is the largest collaboration ever achieved across the creative industries."

David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4

Now Texprint is reaching out to companies right across the textiles sector to support the initiative. Barbara Kennington, Texprint chairman, said: "We're very pleased that the value of textile design has been recognised by Create UK... Over the next two years up to 20 design graduates will be matched with both UK and international manufacturers and retailers to expand their hands-on experience of the industry."

At the heart of the initiative is a collective desire to see the widest diversity of young textile design graduates develop careers in the industry. Overnight success is not on offer: it's about enabling designers to gain a foothold in their chosen career. Government minister Matthew Hancock acknowledges that the first step in a career is always the toughest. The transition from university or college to work is exceptionally demanding. "It's hard to get a job without having been in a job."

Article tags: general (52), business (52), sponsors (27), texprint 2013 (22), special events (11), internships (2)

Shortlisted nominees for Colour, Pattern, Space and Body Prizes

25 July 2014 by Editor

Shortlisted nominees with judges

Texprint’s 2014 programme of new designer support began in London earlier in July with the interaction between 24 highly talented new textile designers and experienced industry professionals who had the tough, but hopefully enjoyable, task of selecting the very best of the best Texprint Award winners for Pattern, Body, Space and Colour.

The judges were: Sarah Campbell, co-founder of the influential print design partnership Collier Campbell; Jill Chatwood, director of design at activewear company lululemon athletica; Eifion Griffiths, owner and director of Welsh weaver Melin Tregwynt; George Graham, chief creative officer and co-founder of design retailer Wolf & Badger; and Sue Roberts, design director, home, of department store group House of Fraser.

The selected nominees are:

Pattern Award, from left: Charlotte Beevor, Beth Humes, Jane Han Zhang 

Texprint Pattern Award

·         Charlotte Beevor, print, Leeds College of Art (BA)

·         Jane Han Zhang, print, Royal College of Art (MA), London College of Fashion (BA)

·         Beth Humes, weave, University of Brighton (BA)

Body Award, from left: Jonny Luke Wadland, Tali Furman, Federica Tedeschi

Texprint Body Award

·         Tali Furman, print, Royal College of Art (MA), Shenkar College, Israel (BDES)

·         Jonny Luke Wadland, knit, Winchester School of Art (BA)

·         Federica Tedeschi, mixed media, Royal College of Art (MA), Central St Martins College of Art & Design (BA)

Space Award, from left: Georgia Fisher, Kaila Cox, Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira

Texprint Space Award

·         Kaila Cox, print, Royal College of Art (MA), Central St Martins College of Art & Design (BA)

·         Georgia Fisher, weave, Royal College of Art (MA), Central St Martins College of Art & Design (BA)

·         Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira, weave, Central St Martins College of Art & Design (BA)

Colour Award, from left: Jessica Hymas, Charlotte Beevor, Beth Humes

Texprint Colour Award

·         Jessica Hymas, knit, Royal College of Art (MA), Central St Martins College of Art & Design (BA),

·         Beth Humes, weave, University of Brighton (BA)

·         Charlotte Beevor, print, Leeds College of Art (BA)

The four prize winners will be announced at the Texprint prize ceremony, which will be held in the Texprint area of Indigo, part of Première Vision Pluriel, on September 17, 2014 at 3pm. Each will receive £1,000, sponsored by Liberty Art Fabrics and â�¨The Clothworkers’ Foundation.

Article tags: texprint london (19), texprint 2014 (9), judges 2014 (7)

Jill Chatwood, lululemon athletica, selects internship award winners

21 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho

We talk to Jill Chatwood, Design Director of lululemon athletica, the Canadian athletic apparel company dedicated to making functional and equally beautiful clothing for proactive, optimistic modern women.

At lululemon athletica, customers are “guests” and store employees, “educators”.  Since its founding more than 15 years ago this unorthodox approach to business and fashion has helped put lululemon on the map as the ‘go to’ innovative and fashion-led athletic apparel company. “I’m passionate about bringing together art and athleticism. These aren’t areas that people generally put together but athleticism is a form of art and art can be athletic and dynamic too,” said Jill Chatwood, design director of the Canada-based company, specialising in yoga-inspired clothing.

It’s this focus on design that is both original and commercial that drew lululemon to both sponsor Texprint and create the lululemon Texprint Internship Award, acknowledging creativity and the need for industry experience; it is also what drew Chatwood to become a judge for Texprint. “[Texprint] was always the area at Indigo/PV in Paris that had the most exciting stuff… the most exciting raw work unconstrained as yet by the garment industry”, she recalled of her first brush with Texprint.

Dennis “Chip” Wilson founded lululemon in 1998, amidst the yoga boom of the late 1990s and increasing female presence in sports. Starting from one shop in Vancouver, Canada, including a design and yoga studio as well as a retail store, the business expanded rapidly. It now has around 200 stores, mostly in North America, with a new store in Covent Garden among other locations.  In 2009, the company launched a subsidiary, Ivivva Athletica, a dance and gymnastics clothing line for young girls aged six to 12.

Each lululemon store is a small universe onto itself. Store managers are much more than just managers – they decide the store’s look, from layout to colour, and control what kind of events they hold. “It’s important for us to make sure that not only are we a big brand with multiple stores but that each store is its own little micro community,” said Chatwood, who joined lululemon as a store employee in 2003.

Nurturing young design talent is another passion lululemon shares with Texprint. This winter, the company is set to launch a line of specialist cycling jerseys designed by Texprint alumna Florence Colson, one of two designers to win the lululemon Texprint Award in 2013. We sat down with Chatwood to discuss innovations in athletic wear, her interest in artful yet functional design, and the brand’s future product focus.

Jill with lululemon Texprint Internship Award selected designers; Charlotte Beevor (left) and Federica Tedeschi (right)

What drew you to become involved with Texprint?

The more I learnt about Texprint, the more it connected with what we believed in from a design perspective. Three years ago we decided to get more involved and sponsor Texprint and now we benefit, as the quality of interns we get from Texprint is unparalleled.

What is great textile design, or great design in general?

Great design is design that brings together beauty (colour and print) and function. I think both qualities have to live together in harmony, particularly in the world of modern sportswear where a garment can’t be just beautiful or useful. Form too has always been as important as function, so we can’t have something that doesn’t function for the sake of form. I think that the combination of these elements is where great design exists.

Designer Ailis Dewar shows her work to Jill and colleague judges

When did you start your relationship with lululemon?

In 2003, straight from design school - they had just opened up a store in my neighbourhood in Toronto and it was maybe only the third or fourth store at that time. I went from working in the store when I was going to school, to immediately joining the design team. It was such a good foundation - I just worked hard and did everything, from quality checks to product design, fabric and trim development.

At that time we had a tiny team of designers. Our whole company was founded on young, entrepreneurial designers, all coming together for a common goal. And this is one of the things we love about Texprint - we really love to support and nurture the energy of young, up-and-coming designers because they are the future.

What made you identify so strongly with lululemon?

The lululemon company ethos was something very original that hadn’t been created before. A modern yoga company didn’t exist before lululemon, or such a female-focused athletic brand - that was the new thing - it was really nice to see a brand emerge that was active and focused towards women. Being able to marry fashion with the active lifestyle was something that really excited me and the more I learnt about technical fabrics, the more exciting it became. To me it had so much more substance than just designing another evening gown or something like that.

What is your key focus when designing for the brand?

What excites me the most is being able to bring new ideas to the market that make people’s lives easier and better, these are also the challenges. Take safety for example - we’ve used reflective ink, yarn and fabric, all in different ways so that we can make our guests safe but in a beautiful way. Most athletic companies just put a reflective stripe down the sleeves and say, “There you go – now you’re visible”, we’ve worked hard to integrate safety and function in a more beautiful, subtle way.

Looking forward one of our goals has been creating print that feels more handmade than computer-generated - designing prints with personality and feeling, made by human beings, with love. 

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), business (52), sponsors (27), collaboration (9), texprint 2014 (9), judges 2014 (7), internships (2)

Texprint London 2014: platform for new textile design talent

14 July 2014 by Roger Tredre

Texprint London: 24 selected designers with judges

We look back on a memorable three days in London this July, when 24 young designers – the best of a new generation educated in the UK – attended the Texprint preview presentation in London.

After the rigorous interviews and the methodical sifting through over 200 portfolios and CVs, just 24 designers are selected. They have come from all over the globe but they were all educated in the UK and recently graduated from BA and MA programmes at colleges across the country. Weavers, knitters, printers and embroiderers – brought together for three days in London to show their work to the textile design industry.

Entrance display by Texprint 2011 alumna Emma J Shipley

The London preview presentation (July 9–10) is an important part of the process that climaxes in Paris in September at Premiere Vision, where all 24 designers show – and sell – their work to industry visitors at Indigo, the creative textile and surface design show-within-a show at PV. The excitement of the young designers in London was infectious. "I can't believe I'm here!" said Frieda Peppercorn, a designer who studied at Winchester College and whose witty prints inspired by Mrs Beeton were quick to catch the eye.

In London, the judges gathered the day before the presentation (July 8) to deliberate over the shortlist for prizes (the winners are announced in Paris). While the judges deliberated, the designers were on standby for further questioning. In London they also received their first exposure to Texprint sponsors, the press and potential employers and were given practical mentoring to prepare them for the next step of their careers. "It's fantastically helpful," said Jessica Hymas, a knit designer who recently left the Royal College of Art. "We've learned a lot about sampling and how to charge for samples."

On the afternoon of July 8th, the five judges arrived at Chelsea for four hours of intensive viewing and discussion. They represented a broad spread of expertise from across the industry, including Sarah Campbell of legendary textile design partnership Collier Campbell; Eifion Griffiths, CEO of highly regarded Welsh wool products company Melin Tregwynt; Sue Roberts, Design Director Home at leading UK department store group House of Fraser; Henry Graham, Chief Creative Officer of innovative London retailer Wolf & Badger; and Jill Chatwood, Design Director at fast-growing Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica.

Judge Sarah Campbell examines the work of Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira

For these judges, there was an instinctive reaction to the work on display, but also a more considered response to consider and review, both individually and collectively. Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint Creative Director, urged them not to overlook the supplementary work: "It's often in the sketchbook that you get to know the real person."

Judge Henry Graham reveiws the work of designer Federica Tedeschi

The designers were called into the room for thorough questioning and scrutiny. They were invited to leave again. Names were tossed back and forth across the table. Excellence was celebrated, but there was a recurring complaint: Why did so many of the designers obsess about fashion? Why didn't they realise the huge potential of the interiors sector? The judges went back to the stands to review, and review again, the work. Slowly but steadily, a shortlist emerged. Names were read out and read out again. A tweak here, a plea there, a reshuffle – and another reshuffle. The debate always driven by an urgent, passionate desire from all involved that the right names should make the shortlist.

But the real pleasure of Texprint London is that everyone is a winner – because everyone is on the Eurostar to Paris in September. Hilary Scarlett, a leading textile and fashion trends consultant who regularly visits Texprint, had no doubt the designers will be well received in Paris: "The quality of work this year is stunning, really diverse, with sophisticated thought processes." Anne Smith, Dean of Fashion at Central Saint Martins, agreed: "It's one of the best years in a long time."

Designers Jonny Wadland (left image) and Ailis Dewar show their work to visitors

The judges were full of praise too. Sue Roberts of House of Fraser noted: "There are so many boundaries and restrictions in retail. It's great to see work with no boundaries." Sarah Campbell said the process of judging had been "very intense" and urged the designers to think more broadly about their work, particularly about its potential for interiors.

Judges Eifion Griffiths and Sue Roberts reviewing portfolio work

Some of the big guns of the industry showed up bright and early the next day to emphasise their interest. Karen Peacock, Head of Design at Marks & Spencer, was an early arrival. "For us, it's about keeping abreast of the talent," she said. "I consider Texprint to offer the cream of the crop in textiles and print. Not only is the standard very high but the students are also very good about talking about their work."

Texprint sponsors, such as John Snowdon, Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Weavers, agreed: "Our aim is to find the best. We always find them at Texprint." Roll on Paris!

CLICK HERE for Press Release: Texprint special prizes: the shortlist of nominees announced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short listed designers with the judges: from left; Tali Furman, Charlotte Beevor, Jane Han Zhang, Georgia Fisher, Kaila Cox, judge Jill Chatwood, judge Eifion Griffiths, judge Sue Roberts, Jonny Wadland, judge Sarah Campbell, judge Henry Graham, Federica Tedeschi, Jessica Hymas, Beth Humes

Article tags: general (52), champions of texprint (41), sponsors (27), texprint 2014 (9), judges 2014 (7)

Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Eifion Griffiths

03 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho

We talk to Eifion Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Melin Tregwynt, a century-old Welsh wool products company that’s all about family, quality textiles and keeping tradition alive.

For Eifion Griffiths, a love of high quality textiles runs in the blood. His wool mill business, based in a remote valley on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales, is a family affair, started in 1912 when his grandfather, Henry Griffiths, bought the mill for £750 at an auction.

The 20th century’s tumult and challenges never broke Melin Tregwynt. The company survived the rationing system during World War II, the 1980s' recession and the 2008 global economic crisis. In fact, over the last five years, the company’s sales and production have more than doubled. Its unique range of wool blankets, throws and cushions – the majority of which is made through the traditional double-cloth weaving technique – has been the secret design ammunition for big name hotels, designers and retailers such as John Lewis, Heal’s, Margaret Howell and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, among others.

A firm believer in maintaining traditional methods of producing textiles, Griffiths admits he is not a fan of digital print. “[Digital printing] replicates anything and everything, regardless of the process, seemingly without any additional effort from the designer/maker," he tells Texprint. However, he adds, “I am open to persuasion and would love to see a digital design that really explored the potential of the technology.”

Much as the slow food movement prizes local produce, Melin Tregwynt strives to use more British wool and labour. This year, the company plans to launch a range of fabrics using 100 per cent pure new wool sourced from British sheep and spun in the UK.

Talking to Texprint, Griffiths discusses the struggles faced by the British textile industry, the intricacies of creating top quality textiles and Melin Tregwynt’s rich history.

What are your thoughts on an organisation such as Texprint?

I feel very strongly that the industry needs to support its young designers. Texprint helps students negotiate the journey between higher education and the commercial world. It provides support, mentoring, some necessary signposts and maps to make that journey easier.

The textile industry has suffered as work has disappeared overseas. We are beginning to see an improvement as the market is learning to value home based and traceable production. However this is almost too late to halt the rapid disappearance of skills and an ageing workforce. There's a need to get design students and industry apprentices to learn the traditional skills associated with the textile industry and build on that knowledge before all that expertise is lost forever.

Our woollen industry in Wales is an example of an industry still based on family-owned companies and there is a succession issue for those companies whose family members may not be interested in continuing in the business. A demographic time bomb is ticking under what remains of the UK textile industry.

What is great textile in your opinion?

I like designs that have the maker's mark on them. You can see the imprint of the designer’s hand and the judgement of their eye in the finished design. I like it when the way that the fabrics are made/printed/woven partly determines the form of the design. They feel right and have an authentic quality that comes from the interplay of the designer and the process of making.

What differentiates Melin Tregwynt’s woollen products from others?

We work mainly in the Welsh weaving tradition of double cloth weaving. This has its disadvantages but it gives the products an authenticity and integrity that stems mainly from the fact that the design and structure are linked. You cannot alter the design without altering the weave set up, threading, number of shafts etc. It gives the product a depth that mere surface decoration would lack.

What did you do before getting involved in the family business?

Neither my wife nor I were trained in textiles. I was actually an architect before coming back to the family business. Sometimes a level of ignorance about what you can or cannot do is useful, as we have attempted and occasionally succeeded in achieving things that anybody with any sense would have probably left well alone.

How has Melin Tregwynt being a family-owned business for so long influenced the company?

Being a family company gives us a heightened awareness of our own history and tradition. We see the products as a continuation – and each generation has reinvented the tradition to suit its market.

My grandfather used local wool and sold through local markets. There was barter and exchange but the mills of Wales were part of a much larger supply chain where flannels were woven and sold to steelworks, coal mines and army. Seemingly quaint rural mills were actually part of a much larger industrial supply chain. That came to an end after the First World War. Mills struggled to survive but we were lucky and found customers. 

In the 1950s, my father discovered tourism and sold directly to visitors to the mill and to other retailers selling to tourists in Wales. When I came back to the business in 1979, I set out to find a market away from the mill that would be interested in our products. Today, we operate in a global economy and sell to a global market place. We are once again part of a large supply chain.

How do you see Melin Tregwynt evolving in future?

We see our future as primarily a retail/design company with limited production facilities whose main concerns are innovation, product design and development. Within this framework we seek to protect existing jobs at the mill and to create new jobs.

We are a native Welsh company and we are committed to manufacturing in Wales. We are actively working with other small manufacturers to create and market the best Welsh designed and manufactured products.

In a textile industry where most products are sourced overseas, we also see ourselves as a possible training resource – an opportunity for textile students to have practical experience of manufacture.

Article tags: weave (22), home & interiors (28), general (52), champions of texprint (41), business (52), texprint 2014 (9), judges 2014 (7)