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Meet the Sponsor: Julie Davies, The Woolmark Company

02 November 2016 by Roger Tredre

Texprint has worked with TWC for much of its 40-year existence, and the synergy of interests between the two parties has been nurtured by a succession of remarkable individuals.

Currently championing that relationship at TWC is Julie Davies, General Manager, Processing Innovation & Education Extension.Her role puts her at the forefront of spreading the word about Merino wool to new generations worldwide.

Julie Davies at the Texprint 2016 Prize Presentation in Paris

When Texprint, which relies entirely on funds raised from sponsors and supporters, was struggling in the late 1980s, TWC was a staunch supporter and helped Texprint make the transition to charitable status in 1990.

Now, with Texprint flourishing once more, TWC sponsors a prize at Première Vision Designs every September in Paris. The winner – this year, Jacob Monk, from Central Saint Martins – goes on to show at Intertextile Shanghai, backed by TWC. The 2016 Woolmark Company Texprint Award was judged by Aline Galimberti, Chief Designer at Dormeuil, together with Jonathan Christopher of Jonathan Christopher Homme, the 2015-16 European menswear finalist for the International Woolmark Prize.

Winner of The Woolmark Company Texprint Award, Jacob Monk (centre) with award judges Aline Galimberti, chief designer at Dormeuil, and Dutch menswear designer and International Woolmark finalist Jonathan Christopher

TWC is a subsidiary of Australian Wool InnovationLimited, a not-for-profit enterprise owned by more than 24,000 woolgrowers that invests in research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool.

Julie Davies has worked in the Australian textile industry for 30 years, the majority of those years working in product development  and sales and maketing for a fully vertical textile mill. Merino wool was always the  dominant fibre. She was approached five years ago to work directly for TWC and has spent the past four years focusing on innovative education & extension programmes

The true passion that runs through so many people in the textiles industry was a talking point at Premiere Vision Designs this year. 'Find your passion, hold on to it and let your passion  drive your successes,' says Davies, encouraging the Texprint designers. 'It can be an amazing career and a wonderful opportunity to keep creating and innovating.'

What's her story? 'I was always passionate about textiles as a student, although I took a different path at first. In my mid-twenties I realised that textiles was where I wanted to be. I worked initially for a textiles printer, both for interiors and fashion, across all categories. And then I worked for a fully vertical circular knit company, based in Australia, working in product development and sales and marketing  At that time our production manager was an extremley talented Italian, Alberto Pastura, who had been in the industry since he was a child. To work alongside someone with his knowledge and passion was a amazing and unique experience. Approximately 70 per cent of the collections we produced were in Merino wool. As we were a fully vertical company I was involved in the knitting, dyeing and finishing processes through to the finished garment production and retail marketing.

Enjoying the judging process!

'I was also managing our sales across all product ranges and in that learned to really appreciate the connection between the designer and the manufacture and not taking that relationship for granted. Nurture those connections to create beautiful products……it's those special partnerships that lead to exceptional design and commercial success.'

She adds: 'Don't be afraid to build your relationships, reach out to industry. Don't be daunted by that, there are a lot of really committed people who are more than happy to help and support young talent.

Understanding the importance of education and opportunities for students and young designers TWC continue to build and maintain their partnership with Texprint. 'It is hugely important . the work Texprint does to inspire and encourage young designers, setting them on their way in the industry is truly inspiring and critical for the future.'

Industry designers and consumers alike are appreciating the versatility of Merino wool as technical innovations have expanded the range of products that are perfect for wool. In particular, Merino wool has made an impressive impact in the active sportswear sector in recent years. 'The increase in interest in Merino wool in that sector in recent years has been extraordinary,' notes Davies. 'It's not just about base layers, it's mid-layers and outer layer garments  Wool wadding in jackets, diversity in print techniques, bonding, lamination, etc – with wool as the major fibre.'

The surge of interest in sportswear looks set to be a defining feature of fashion in this decade. So it's an exciting time to be working in the expanding wool sector – both for Davies, The Woolmark Company and for the new generation of designers emerging through Texprint. 

www.woolmark.com


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