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Texprint Talks: Andrew Mellows and Richard Winstanley of The Drapers’ Company

19 August 2013 by

Founded over 600 years ago, the Drapers’ Company is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London. From its origins as a trade guild, over the centuries it has moved with the times and evolved into an organisation that addresses contemporary issues through its philanthropic initiatives which range from the support of elderly people to education. 

The Drapers’ Company is a Foundation Sponsor of Texprint, meaning it has pledged significant financial support for three years. The Company also made a sizable grant to Texprint last year enabling six designers to show at Interstoff Asia Essential in Hong Kong.

Richard Winstanley (left) and Andy Mellows with Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington

Head of charities Andrew Mellows and Colonel Richard Winstanley OBE, the Company’s clerk, came to see Texprint’s London presentation, held at Chelsea College of Art in July 2013, to meet this year’s participating 24 designers and talk with Texprint:

Through your active involvement, the Texprint programme is able to continue its annual programme, launching the careers of the best new textile design graduates from British universities and colleges.

Andy: We’re just delighted to be able, in a small way, to make a contribution to getting these young people on the path to a good career.

Richard: We engage with all sorts of areas; at one end of the spectrum we look after the under privileged and give them an opportunity where they don’t have it, and at this end of the spectrum we blow on an ember of excellence and make it glow, it’s wonderful to see.

Can you tell me more about how the Drapers’ Company has moved from trade guild to supporting charities such as Texprint?

Richard: The Company will be celebrating its 650th anniversary next year. And in effect, like all liveries we were monopolies on our particular trades in order to fix price, quantity and quality. During the 16th century we effectively stopped our control of the trade. In the course of that journey we had built up a membership. In those days, there was no NHS or educational body, if you wanted to get a better place in heaven you put money into something to ease your journey. So through a combination of all those things, the Drapers’, as with many of the liveries, became benefactors of peoples’ endowments and they realised they needed to invest that to look after their own and that converted as the wealth grew into charitable giving. It was a relatively contemporary decision to go back to our threads and get involved in the textile industry.

Andy: In the early 1990s we became involved with Texprint. We did quite a lot of work supporting design students at various universities. And Texprint was a logical follow on from that in that it connects academia with the commercial world.

Which other textile-focused organisations are you involved with?

Andy: We support the Engineering Development Trust [EDT] and its work in smart materials and composites. It’s a 21st century application of textiles that’s a big area of interest and we support educational visits by school children to smart materials companies.

Why should other members of the fashion and textile industry get involved in supporting Texprint?

Andy: I think it’s important that we don’t lose the skills and training of these young people. In industry today there is almost a principle of something for nothing. And I think it’s important that these young designers are given the chance to develop further in an area they have already excelled in and as many companies as possible get involved in providing internships, works experience or ultimately employment opportunities for young people.

Richard: The reason is in this room. It’s absolutely fascinating, the sheer breadth of quality and the spectrum of work that the designers have created.

What has caught your eye today?

Andy: Gillian Murphy’s knitwear is very innovative, very stylish and obviously of extremely high quality, I thought her colour selection was very clever.

Richard: I thought Katy Birchall’s work was brilliant, a very clever a combination of old and extremely modern. But that’s not in any way to say the others are not as good, I just haven’t got around to all of them.

Andy Mellows talks with Gillian Louise Murphy

Did you receive any good advice when you were starting your working lives that you would like to share? Or do you have some good advice for those starting their careers?

Richard: I am sure like many I have received lots of advice from many people over the years, most but not all of which was helpful.  I think there are probably two bits of advice I can offer above all else which I have tried to follow both myself over the years:

When taking on a new job keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. There will come a time when you know as much if not more than those around you but until then be wary of wading in. And never be afraid of seeking advice as people generally enjoy giving it!   

Never be afraid of making mistakes as it is the best way of learning from them. The trick of course is to make sure they are not deliberate and not to repeat them, thus demonstrating one’s own learning.

I have always tried to live by these (not sure I have always succeeded). It is a balance of tempering one’s innate (and to begin with youthful and therefore sometimes inexperienced) enthusiasm with a desire to show willing. 

Andy: I would say that they are going to have knock backs along the way; don’t take it personally and keep believing in yourself.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Article tags: champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), texprint 2013 (23)

Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer

12 August 2013 by

Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience that Nancy describes as “one of the happiest of my life.” Our interview with Nancy illustrates how much the Texprint showcase contributes to launching creative careers and how the paths alumni follow are increasingly rich and diverse.

Creativity is in Nancy’s DNA; her father is the sculptor, Guy Taplin, and her mother is the ceramicist Robina Jack. An exciting showcase of the work of all three will be revealed through a family show at renowned gallery Messum’s, in London, which opens on 29th October 2013. Nancy will be showing a new collection of her startlingly beautiful and detailed bird paintings.

Nancy loves living and working in London - she shares a studio with eight other people, almost all of who are working in fashion and textiles. A typical day for her would include around six hours painting – but she told us, “The way in which I paint is detailed and intense and I can only really paint in short bursts, so I take lots of breaks and chat with people. When I first started painting, I was living in Essex and working on my own. I would dream about a space in a big, busy London studio; I feel so blessed now that it’s become a reality.”

How many new works are you creating for the forthcoming Taplin family show at Messum’s?

There will be ten new pieces. It’s really exciting to see the work come together - in some ways it feels a lot like planning and creating a fabric collection. Even though I’m working with unique, stand-alone pieces, I can’t help but think about how they’ll fit together as a group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a gallery context.

How did this opportunity come about?

My family are all artists and it was suggested that we have a family show. I started painting by accident in 2010. I was working as a freelance textile designer at the time, primarily for Issa, having been approached by them at Texprint’s London show. I was quite reluctant to suddenly start producing fine art pieces because I couldn’t see myself working in that way, but thought I may as well give it a go. I’d intended to do a small series of prints, but my father saw the sketchbook I was drawing in – an old ledger onto which I’d painted a bird – and immediately saw that it worked as a piece in itself. I sold all the book paintings I did for that show, and after that it just took on a momentum of its own. I’ve since had a couple more group shows and a solo show and I still haven’t managed to hang on to a painting for myself!

It’s funny, because when I was at Indigo Paris with Texprint, I was approached by a man who bluntly told me my fabrics were beautiful but I’d never make any money as a textile designer because they were fine art, and although it did trouble me at the time, I often think how it was a strangely prescient comment.

After winning the 2009 Texprint Interiors Prize you went on to work as print and embellishment designer for Issa. How was this experience?

It was a massive learning curve.  I was so grateful for the opportunity and working with such a glamorous label was exciting. Seeing print and embroidery designs I’d worked on featured on Style.com having being shown at London Fashion Week was a great experience. However, looking back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Their aesthetic is completely different to my own and whilst I’m happy working to a brief, I found having to completely remould my style to fit with the sleekness and femininity that is Issa’s trademark a bit of an uphill struggle. If I had the confidence and perspective I have now, I might have refused the role and pursued more suitable freelance work. However, I’m really relieved I didn’t: not only was working with them a wonderful thing to have done, but because I found it so challenging I learned an enormous amount about myself and about the way in which I’m happiest working.

Obviously birds, and your father’s work, inspire you. Has this always been the case?

I spent my childhood surrounded by birds – stuffed, wooden, painted, living – they were everywhere. I’ve grown up with the East End’s answer to David Attenborough for a dad: when you’re with him he keeps up a continual commentary on the natural world and it’s blessed me with an awareness of nature and wildlife that I haven’t really had to work for. Wherever I go I’m conscious of the birds, insects and plants around me, whether it’s seagulls and starlings on the Ridley Road Market or shorebirds along the River Colne.

Other inspirations?

My background is in art history, and I guess my painting style is inspired in equal measure by fourteenth-century egg tempera painting – I can spend hours in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing – and more contemporary painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’m definitely quite traditional in my approach though, and spend a lot of time apologising for being a bit passé!

Your work is incredibly detailed – do you work mainly from photographs?

Funnily enough, the less closely I work from photographs, the more detailed my work gets. When I first started painting, I used to rely on photos a lot more heavily; my paintings were much more realistic, though somehow also much sketchier. Since I’ve become more confident, I’ve also become more immersed in surface pattern and less concerned with realism. I often find myself working on a decorative passage of feathers and thinking, ‘all I’d need to do is blow this up and put it into repeat and it’d make such a great digital print!’

What drew you to working with/on old books? They are things of beauty in themselves – where do you find them all?

I first started working with old books when I was studying fashion and textiles at university.  My mother and aunt were clearing out old stationary from my grandparent’s farm office. I salvaged it all and started to incorporate it into my work. My final collection sketchbook was an old family ledger, which I thought was empty. The whole collection was based on the First World War and its aftermath, and when I was in the final stages of the collection I realised that a few pages right at the back of the ledger had been used, and were dated 1917-18; it was a really affirming moment and felt a bit like someone from my family was sending me a message.  I love the battered aesthetic of old books, there’s something so tactile and appealing about them. I get a lot of them sent over from America now, but when I can, I love to hunt round car boots and flea markets.

Regarding your working process – do the backgrounds inspire the particular bird?

The books themselves have a huge influence on what I paint on them. I think the process of deciding what to paint on a particular book is the point at which my textile training has the biggest impact. Each painting has a colour story, and the books become like fabrics, they have their own personalities and it’s really important to work intuitively with their individual characteristics.

I love painting the birds’ heads – for me it’s where all the personality lies. I’ve done a series of “portrait close ups” for the new show and I’m really pleased with them. That first bit, when you’ve done maybe just the beak and the eye, is when you’ve got the most energy and excitement for a painting and you’re making all the big decisions about colour and form. It’s a great place to be. The worst bit of any painting is “the ugly phase”… I usually paint onto dark surfaces, and have to create a white base first, in the silhouette of the bird. There’s always a brief period before the painting’s started to take shape when it looks absolutely dreadful!

You are concentrating now on your career as a painter, but do you feel you may return to textiles in the future?

I’m definitely planning on working with fabrics again. I’m also fired up about learning to make shoes, and want to produce a collection of small-scale prints that would work in this format. It’s got to the point where I literally go to bed and dream about printed leather – I’ve got so much raw visual material buzzing round my head, so much inspiration from my paintings, that I can’t wait until I have time to start designing. It’s going to be exciting to take the paintings that have been the focus of my life for such a long time and do something completely different with them.

Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?

I’m writing a lot, which is something I’ve always done, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. Perhaps most excitingly of all though, I’m at the very early stages of realising a long-held dream, and I’m learning how to make shoes. I’ve wanted to do it for so long that I’m bubbling over with excitement about it.

What are your plans for the future?  

I’m looking forward to the point when things have settled down and I’m still painting enough to make a living, but also have more freedom to do other things, like write and get back into textile design. I’m really starting to crave a bit of variety now.

Looking back – is there a significant moment in your career development that stands out?

Other than my solo show selling out at the private view, which was a bit surreal, I think Texprint really was the major highlight of my career development so far. I was at New Designers when I got the phone call saying I’d been selected and I honestly nearly fell down the stairs with excitement. I think the best thing for me about Texprint was that Grayson Perry, who is one of my absolute heroes, was a judge. As someone who’s work traverses fine art and textiles, he was heaven sent, and finding out he’d selected me as the winner of the Interior Textiles prize was one of the happiest moments of my life.  I gained so much confidence and self-awareness from Texprint, and I’m hugely grateful for that experience.

Advice for those about to graduate this year?

Don’t worry if your work seems different from other graduates– my portfolio stuck out like a sore thumb and I felt like a rackety art student compared to the professionalism of everyone else, but I think that actually stood me in good stead in the end. If you get negative feedback, like I did from the man who told me I’d never make any money because I was an artist not a designer, don’t be disheartened: hidden in that feedback there might be a really good bit of advice.  Don’t be rigid, and be prepared to do stuff that wasn’t quite what you had in mind; you honestly never know where it’s going to end up.

The most important thing though is to enjoy the whole process of graduating – New Designers, Graduate Fashion Week, job interviews – talk to people and have fun; people respond really well to enthusiasm, and I really believe that conveying your love of what you do is almost as important as the work itself.

2009:  Nancy with Interiors prize judge Grayson Perry

Article tags: print (31), home & interiors (28), general (61), illustration (9)

Texprint 2013: Meet the judges, Emma Kidd of Selfridges

08 August 2013 by

Emma Kidd, creative researcher at Selfridges, plays a vital role as part of Selfridges creative team. Selfridges opened its doors on Oxford Street, London in 1909 and revolutionised the retail arena, making department stores a site of entertainment and creating an iconic London landmark. Over 100 years later, with four locations in the UK, Selfridges continues to innovate and entertain shoppers. Selfridges is the only department store to be twice awarded the accolade of the Best Department Store in the World.

In July 2013, Emma joined the special prize judging panel in London to select the shortlisted designers for this year’s Texprint Awards in Body, Space, Pattern and Colour.

Emma reviewing the work

How did you find judging the Texprint Awards, can you tell us what you were most excited about?


I was really excited to see what the future holds in terms of textile design. It was an extremely talented and driven group but the diversity within it was really refreshing. I didn't see a trend stylistically or technically - just individual magic.

How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers?

At Selfridges we are passionate about encouraging emerging talent primarily from the a number of creative sectors including fashion. Textile design is at the core of fashion and is often what drives fashion forward. The next generation of textile designers will influence our future catwalks and what we wear every day. Let's make it an exciting future.

The Texprint programme selects designers who have trained in UK art and design schools, regardless of where they come from originally. Why is the UK art school system so good at producing design talent?

You can't beat Britain for imagination and creativity and I think this is where we have the edge. For a supposedly reserved nation, the creative industries are insuppressible.

Emma with judging panel and the 24 Texprint 2013 selected designers

Can you give me a brief outline of the role of the Selfridges’ creative team?

The team is headed up by Linda Hewson, the director of windows & creative, and our team reports to Alannah Weston, the creative director of Selfridges. The role of the creative team is ultimately a conceptual one; researching and developing ideas that inspire everything from architecture and spaces within the store, to seasonal and creative store-wide schemes, product development and customer experience. In a sense we are a tool that ensures Selfridges can evolve in a way that is consistent with Alannah's vision, is in touch with the world around us, and always has a beady eye on the future.

Could you give me an idea what a typical day is like for you?

I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a typical day in the creative office. Every day is different! We like to vary the way we work according to project. However, we do generally have lots of meetings between departments, and of course for brainstorming and generating ideas. As a researcher, I like to start my day catching up on my favourite blogs and checking the day's news.

What is the best thing about working at Selfridges? What do you think sets Selfridges apart from other department stores?

I would say the people. As we work with lots of other departments, I am always meeting new people and I am constantly blown away by their knowledge, expertise and passion for their subject.  
Personally, I would say that the character of Selfridges is unique. We're a ‘thinking’ brand but don't like to take ourselves too seriously. There will always be some kind of wit or humour, a touch of the magical or surreal, and we like to have fun.

What’s next in store for Selfridges - are you working on any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Yes! Our Bright Young Things of 2013 launches late August. Previous BYTs have gone on to be very successful in the creative industries; from Simone Rocha to Patternity. This, the third Bright Young Things scheme, features fifteen UK-based emerging talents from the worlds of fashion, accessories, art, animation, set design and food. Each fledgling designer will take over one of the world-renowned window displays at Selfridges London and their creations will be on sale in the dedicated Bright Young Things Concept Store and Selfridges.com.

Where would you suggest a first time Selfridges shopper should check out in store?

Come and spend the day! I have to say I love our new Wine Shop and Harry Gordon's bar. It's a really cool space designed by Campaign Architects. The cocktails are delicious and the wine selection outstanding. A great way to unwind after a busy day shopping.

Article tags: business (54), champions of texprint (45), texprint london (19), texprint 2013 (23), judges 2013 (13)

Texprint 2013 Selection Interviews: how, why, who and what

23 July 2013 by Editor

Emma Sewell, Ruth Greany, Gregory Parsons with designer and Peter Ring-Lefevre (right)

With Texprint 2013 well underway this seems a timely opportunity to track back to the first stage of the selection process as we catch up with Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre to discuss the how, why, who and what of the Texprint interviews.

Peter, over 190 graduates are interviewed over a three-week period – quite a schedule, how does it all work?

Shortly after Easter Texprint approaches all the UK’s design colleges and universities, inviting textile course leaders and tutors to put forward their most talented designers who are about to graduate, and who they feel are most likely to benefit from the Texprint experience.  That they are Trained in Britain is the key, the designers are international as well as British-born, and can be graduating from BA or MA degree courses (though can only be selected once for Texprint, if at BA then not again at MA).

Photo left: Keighley Sheperdly, Sarah Cheyne / Photo right: Neil Bamford, Claire Whiston, Emma Shipley (hidden)

This is an intense time for the Texprint team as tutors are contacted, queries answered, designers telephoned and emailed to establish when they can come to London (as they hail from all corners of the UK!) and interview timetables are scheduled, changed and scheduled again!

Well over 240 designers were put forward this year by 37 UK colleges, which is fantastic.  However as we are only able to interview around 190 designers over our planned three weeks, already decisions need to be made! 

Prior to this I am in touch with our network of industry contacts, all amazing champions of Texprint each of whom give up time in their busy schedules to get involved and interview for at least one day. I also aim to invite several course leaders to participate as this is the best way to illustrate what Texprint is looking for and I know they find the experience very helpful.

JO PIERCE: “It’s great to be asked. As a senior lecturer and someone putting forward students for Texprint it’s a great opportunity to see first hand what Texprint is looking for, also to see the benchmark. It’s useful to meet with others in the industry and hear their views on students, and to see what they’re looking for.”

Angela cassidy, Noel Chapman, Jessica Quinton

Why is it important to conduct individual face-to-face interviews and who does the interviewing?

This is one of the unique aspects of the Texprint programme.  It is only by interviewing each designer, looking in detail at their portfolios and asking probing questions, that one can discover where their true potential lies.

It’s a rigorous process and the first stage of mentoring. Our interviewers are all experts in one or more textile discipline, they are all professionals and working in industry, have their own studios or textile-based businesses, and in some cases they are alumni. Given their wealth of experience the interviewers can quickly assess where a designer is coming from, what their interests and skills are and what potential they offer if given the best opportunities to showcase their work.

The face-to-face interview and the knowledge we build up of the selected designers also means that we can wholeheartedly recommend these designers to potential employers, not just for their design skills but for their confidence, work ethic, desire to succeed etc.

CLAIRE WHISTON: “I love spending a day immersing myself with students and their portfolios. Often at degree and MA shows you do not get to see the back up research or hear directly from the students what their work is about.  Something new and refreshing always crops up and new trends emerge. The mix of colleges allows me to overview the current year and points me to new emerging courses.”

And every designer benefits from this opportunity - for many, even if not selected for Texprint, the interview itself is a revelation.  The interviewers are able to swiftly highlight aspects of their work or suggest next steps that the designers may not have even considered.

JANE KELLOCK: “It’s exciting to be part of an initiative that supports British design and helps graduates reach the next level after completing their education. I find it very inspiring, being involved helps keep me in touch with what’s inspiring young people - and I feel passionate about helping young designers and want to give something back.”

Jane Kellock, David Edmond, Jeremy Somers

What are the interview panels looking for in each designer’s portfolio?

In September the selected designers will exhibit as professional designers at Indigo/Première Vision.  Indigo is central to the Texprint programme and experience - however as Texprint is increasingly seen as a design source for all creative industries – fashion, interiors, product, accessories, automotive, graphics among others - it is important that we think beyond fashion when considering the work.

JEREMY SOMERS: “I’m looking for originality, great colour and creativity, thoughtfulness, exceptional drawing skills and technical ability, plus confidence and conviction – and ultimately whether the graduate will gain from the Texprint experience.”

Primarily we are looking for 24 designers whose work pushes the boundaries!  Collections of work that demonstrate innovation, creativity, skill and commercial awareness.  It is also important to assess not just the work shown, but whether the designer has more ideas that can be developed in the future.

DAVID EDMOND: “Helping out with Texprint is a joy for me. It is great to see new designers’ potential and be able to help them with insight and directional advice.”

ELEANOR PRITCHARD: “I really enjoy seeing a snapshot of the work coming out of British textile courses. It’s a real privilege to be shown and talk through the sketchbooks, the journey and process behind a collection. I got a huge amount from Texprint when I graduated and am very happy to contribute to helping the next generation of designers.”

The interviews are also a unique opportunity to track how standards across the UK are changing or developing.  In some cases one is disappointed if standards seem weaker than previous years, in other cases, you can be completely overawed by the extraordinary work of many of today’s most talented graduates.

SARAH CHEYNE: “As I work in the more commercial sector of textiles it is refreshing to see portfolios of work which are not necessarily constrained by feasibility or production costs.”

Wrapping up, Peter says the key is to evaluate whether the interviewee is really ready for the opportunities Texprint can open up for them – is the designer focused and determined, do they understand the skills they need to be successful – not just to be talented, that’s a given, but also do they show enthusiasm, confidence and a willingness to learn, fast!

NEIL BAMFORD: “Texprint showcases our textile design graduates to the international industry. Being an ‘ex-Texprinter’ I am acutely aware of the support and springboard it gave me, so it’s important for me to give back and in turn support this great charity.”

Chris Judge, Helen Palmer

Texprint 2013 Interview Panels:

Texprint would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all the professionals who participated in the 2013 Selection Interviews - your time, energy and experience is hugely appreciated as always.

Kim Avella: tutor Royal College of Art, freelance designer

Neil Bamford: Mint design studio

Joanna Bowring: sponsorship director Texprint, president British Textile Colour Group

Angela Cassidy: own studio, Texprint alumna

Noel Chapman: own studio

Sarah Cheyne: Johnson Cheyne design studio

Fiona Coleman: global head of colour WGSN

Isabel Dodd: tutor Chelsea College of Art & Design

Katie Dominy: founder Arts Thread

David Edmond: own studio

Katie Ellis: studio manager Circle Line Design

Philippa George: The Collection design studio

Gill Gledhill: GGHQ

Alison Grant: textile designer

Ruth Greany: fabric editor WGSN

Janet Holbrook: Holbrook Studio, Peclers

Chris Judge: own Studio

Jane Kellock: consultant Stylus and Debenhams, member British Textile Colour Group

Barbara Kennington: chairman Texprint

Jaqui Lewis: Lewis & Lewis design studio

Jaine McCormack: interiors textile design 

Shane McCoubrey: McCoubrey art & design

Kirsty McDougall: tutor Brighton, Dashing Tweeds

Helen Palmer: head of materials and knitwear WGSN

Gregory Parsons: Halcyon Days, museum curator

Gina Pierce: course leader London Metropolitan

Jo Pierce: senior lecturer Central St Martins

Eleanor Pritchard: own weave studio

Jessica Quinton: Quinton Chadwick

Emma Sewell: Wallace Sewell

Keighley Shepherdly: designer Liberty Art Fabrics

Emma Shipley: own studio, Texprint alumna

Alison Smart: RA Smart Ltd

Jeremy Somers: Circle Line Design

Angela Swan: own studio, Worshipful Company of Weavers

Anne Tyrrell MBE: CEO Anne Tyrrell Design

Claire Whiston: Whiston & Wright design studio

Article tags: alumni (45), general (61), champions of texprint (45), texprint 2013 (23), interview panels (1)

Texprint 2013: meet the judges, Deanne Schweitzer of Lululemon

18 July 2013 by

Deanne Schweitzer is the SVP of Design and Creation at Lululemon Athletica. The yoga-inspired activewear brand is both a Texprint Foundation Sponsor as well as a Prize Sponsor: Deanne will select one Texprint designer from a short list including Gillian Louise Murphy (Glasgow School of Art), Pepe Lowe (Chelsea College of Art), Luise Martin (Royal College of Art and previously Ecole Duperré, Paris), Cherica Haye (RCA and previously Central St Martins) and Florence Angelica Colson (Leeds College of Art) as the recipient of this year’s Lululemon Athletica Award, which includes a prize of £1,000 plus a three-month paid internship at the brand’s headquarters in Vancouver.

Lululemon was founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson; and the first retail store opened in 2000 in picturesque Kitsilano, Vancouver, and shared its space with a yoga studio. Today the technologically advanced sportswear is sold worldwide online and through its 211stores. The sense of community at the heart of the brand is propelled by in-store yoga classes and by brand ambassadors who spread the Lululemon lifestyle throughout their local communities.  

How did you come to join Lululemon, please tell us about your role?

13 years ago I was the store manager of the first ever Lululemon store and I’m still working here!  Then the head office was located on the store’s top floor, and my colleagues would always find me upstairs giving feedback on what was and wasn’t working! Even though I didn’t have a design background, Lululemon could tell I was very passionate about the brand and I became the head of the product team. Today I am the SVP of Design and Creation, so I’m in charge of the whole creation side of products and this involves the design team, the merchandising team, raw materials and garment development.

Do you enjoy living in Vancouver?

Vancouver is unique, it’s a very metropolitan city with great restaurants and culture, it’s also located right next to the ocean and a 45 minute drive away are some of the world’s best skiing and hiking mountains. There aren’t many places in the world where you can do all three in one day. We absolutely love sushi here; my family and I eat it at least twice a week. I think we own the market in sushi.

Deanne with her daughter in New York

Do you do yoga in the office?

When we were building the brand we often had our meetings in yoga studios, on hikes or on runs. So I think we attracted people that were excited by that lifestyle. It’s important for our staff to do yoga, we support our staff in taking two weekly sessions at nearby studios and we have a studio in our head office.

Do you plan to open any stores in London / the UK? I can see you have a few Lululemon showrooms in London, what goes on there?

When we open a showroom somewhere we are showing that we ultimately want to open a store there. We are planning on opening a store in London in the very near future and we regularly open in key areas that attract athletic, active and (hopefully) stylish guests.

This will be the second year of the Lululemon Texprint Award, how did you find working with Texprint alumni Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves in the studio?

Unbelievable, they were such a pleasure to have. I think they were both really grateful for the experience so it really was a win-win situation. Having one designer from a weave background and another coming from print was a great balance and brought different perspectives into the print team which we loved. Sophie had such a good experience working with us that she is now applying to work in the Lululemon London showroom.

Lululemon’s manifesto is full of inspirational mottos such as ‘what you do to the earth, you do to yourself’. What responsibility do you think textile designers have in using environmentally-friendly textiles and techniques?

It’s really important to design something that will live in somebody’s wardrobe for a long time. I’m not a big believer in fast fashion or buying something that will end up in the garbage heap in 12 months’ time.

Lululemon has been at the forefront of technologically advanced textiles. What should we expect to see next?

Well I think the biggest trend for us now is smart textiles, technological advances mean that we are asking our apparel to do a lot more for us. We are really excited about apparel that can take somebody from day to night seamlessly.

How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers?

Some new designers come out of school and enter companies where they might get stifled. The Lululemon organisation makes sure to put designers into a position to be listened to and to have an impact. We are very open to be shown new ways of doing things - we are open to fresh new ideas. I truly believe that they are the voice of the future. 

Deanne talking with knit designer Gillian Louise Murphy

Judging panel, from left: designer Madeleine Press, Emma Kidd of Selfridges, Deanne, and style journalist Tamsin Blanchard

All the designers with the judges

Article tags: general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), texprint london (19), sponsors (30), texprint 2013 (23), judges 2013 (13)

Texprint 2013 Awards: short listed designers announced

12 July 2013 by Editor

Texprint 2013 designers with the Texprint team

Speaking of the Texprint London judging and mentoring event (held at Triangle building, Chelsea College of Art & Design, 9-11 July 2013) of the 24 graduates selected for Texprint 2013, Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington says:  “Comments from sponsors, press and industry guests have been overwhelmingly positive; given the pressure young designers are under, their boundless creativity never ceases to impress. There is already great interest in their work - the industry knows these are the year’s elite and are keen to make contact.”

Judges in action: Tamsin Blanchard, Deanne Schweitzer (in background)

At the event a panel of leading designers and influencers in fashion and design - journalist Tamsin Blanchard; designer Madeleine Press; Luigi Turconi from sponsor Ratti; Emma Kidd, creative researcher at Selfridges; and SVP creation at Lululemon Athletica Deanne Schweitzer - reviewed the work of this year's 24 designers and chose the short list of nominees for the four special prize categories: 

Body - Pepe Lowe (Chelsea), Kazusa Takamura (Chelsea), Alice Archer (RCA and previously Goldsmiths College)

Space - Paul Roberts (Loughborough University), Heather JY Cheung (Heriot-Watt University) and Ffion Griffith (Chelsea) 

Colour - Danni Fairchild (Central St Martins), Taslima Sultana (Central St Martins) and Gillian Louise Murphy (Glasgow School of Art)

Pattern - Elizabeth Ashdown (Central St Martins), Danni Fairchild (Central St Martins) and Cherica Haye (RCA and previously Central St Martins)

©Alice Archer, nominated for Body prize

©Elizabeth Ashdown, nominated for Pattern prize

©Heather JY Cheung, nominated for Space prize

©Danni Fairchild, nominated for Colour and Pattern prizes

©Ffion Griffith, nominated for Space prize

©Cherica Haye, nominated for Pattern prize

©Pepe Lowe, nominated for Body prize

©Gillian Louise Murphy, nominated for Colour prize

©Paul Roberts, nominated for Space prize

©Taslima Sultana, nominated for Colour prize

©Kazusa Takamura, nominated for Body prize

A further designer will be chosen from a short list including Gillian Louise Murphy, Pepe Lowe, Luise Martin (RCA and previously Ecole Duperré, Paris), Cherica Haye and Florence Angelica Colson (Leeds College of Art) to receive the Lululemon Texprint Award. In its second year, the award is sponsored by the activewear company Lululemon Athletica - the winner will be chosen by Deanne Schweitzer, and will receive a prize of £1,000 and a three-month paid internship at Lululemon headquarters in Vancouver, Canada.

Article tags: general (61), texprint 2013 (23), judges 2013 (13)

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