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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)

The Selection Process 2013 - judge Tamsin Blanchard

08 July 2013 by

 

Tamsin Blanchard’s remit as Style Director of the Telegraph Magazine is as broad as she likes to make it, from following Joanna Lumley across the slums of Kenya to see what happens to Oxfam donated clothes, to visiting Louis Vuitton's state of the art shoe factory in Fiesso d’Artico, Italy. 

Her career started at the Independent in 1991, where after a few years she became fashion editor, “I was very privileged to have been given the opportunity at the Independent to work my way up from the cupboard to the front row at the shows.” Tamsin followed this with a long stint, 1998-2005, as Style Editor at the Observer Magazine, where she wrote and edited the interiors section, fashion features and interviews for the magazine, joining the Telegraph Magazine as Style Director in 2005.

Left: Tamsin Blanchard / Photo: Zac Frackelton

What is your favourite fashion memory?

It has to be interviewing Issey Miyake in Tokyo for the Observer Magazine in the mid-1990s.  He was such a generous, unpretentious, genuinely creative man. I arrived at the interview feeling quite intimidated to be meeting one of my fashion heroes - I remember being amazed by the way his geometric flat circles of cloth transformed into incredible 3D shapes and blocks of colour on the catwalk. I was finally allowed to go into his office to meet him and he offered me a glass of whiskey and I knew we were going to get on. After the interview, we saw his show for his innovative new concept called A-POC and then went for one of the most memorable meals sitting on the floor of a restaurant that I knew I would never find again. 

How has fashion and design journalism changed since you started?

It is very difficult for underground trends and subcultures to remain underground for more than a day now, in a way that in the 1980s and1990s, subcultures could develop and thrive for months if not years before the mainstream media picked up on them. Now, anyone can become a fashion blogger, and the bloggers themselves have become the story to some extent. However, there is a massive difference between having knowledge and experience in your subject and simply photographing yourself in an outfit you've been given. 

Can you tell us what will you be particularly looking out for as a Texprint 2013 judge?

As a judge, I will be looking for something that is innovative, has a unique view point, and a strong resonance, visually and possibly, emotionally. 

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

It is really important for me because they are part of the creative lifeblood of the design industry. Textiles are where it all begins for many fashion designers. Increasingly, I see fashion collections that are all about print or texture. With the new generation of designers including Louise Gray, Holly Fulton, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, it is difficult to separate the textiles from the fashion - they are part and parcel of the whole collection. 

Do you think people are taking more interest in what goes into their clothes and the creative forces behind them?

I really believe that consumers will have an increased interest in the provenance of their clothes. Nobody wants their clothes to be made in unsafe factories or by people who are exploited for their labour. There will be an increased demand for information about where a garment was made and a more transparent production process. 

Since writing my book Green is the new Black (2005), issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility have become an important part of running a fashion company. Companies like Marks & Spencer are making sustainability part of the way they run their business. Recently, I wrote about Bruno Pieters' company Honestby which gives the consumer a detailed breakdown of where their garment was made, who made it, how much it cost to make and how much the mark up is.

The Texprint programme selects designers who have trained in UK art and design schools. Why is the UK art school system so good at producing design talent?

It is unique because it understands the importance of creativity and gives students a certain amount of freedom and independence to develop their own style.

This year Texprint is introducing a new Hero Mentoring scheme. How important is having that experience when starting as a professional? What advice did you receive at the start of your career that you can pass on?

I interned as part of my industrial year out from CSM and in fact, was offered a job while interning at the Independent and didn't complete my degree. I think work experience is an essential part of learning about your chosen pathway - there is nothing quite like learning on the job. I had various internships, at Wire, Marie Claire, the Guardian where I helped edit the women's pages for a week (an amazing opportunity, working with the women’s editor Louise Chunn), and was extremely lucky at the Independent to have the opportunity to go to the shows - usually to courier film back to London in the days when photographers still shot on film.  

I had two great mentors: Lisa Armstrong who gave me my first job, and Marion Hume, who took over from Lisa as fashion editor and took me to the shows in Paris, Milan and New York. The Independent taught me the importance of having journalistic integrity - something that is sadly all too often overlooked these days.

The best thing anyone can do is see and absorb as much as you can - it’s all about seeing, not being seen! 

Article tags: fashion (36), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), texprint 2013 (23), judges 2013 (13)

Texprint talks: Julie Harris, CEO of WGSN

04 July 2013 by

As a Foundation Sponsor of the Texprint programme, WGSN, the world’s leading trend forecaster of fashion and design, is committed to supporting the next generation of textile design talent.

wgsn.com

Speaking from the company’s sleek headquarters near Piccadilly Circus, London, WGSN’s CEO Julie Harris explains the reasoning behind its three-year pledge of patronage: “Supporting designers everywhere is hugely important to us. We’re passionate about it. It’s an easy decision to make to support new talent, as ultimately they will become our customers of the future, or become employees, we are supporting our own business and the industry.”

Julie joined WGSN in 2007 as managing director of WGSN APAC and prior to this was managing director of Hachette Filipacchi and previously a commercial director of EMAP’s consumer division.

Julie says she is in no doubt as to why in lean times some companies might pull in their horns when reviewing budgets. But she says stridently: “If we believe in the fashion industry and the industry as a whole, we have to believe it is incumbent on all of us that we have to put our hands in our purses to help support it. It is the responsibility of businesses like ours, whether it is retailers or brands, to invest in upcoming talent. If we don’t, that craftsmanship, that talent and that ability will die and that will make all our businesses poorer as a result.”

Since launching in 1998, WGSN has become the by word for online trend information for the fashion and style industry. Today, it has over 38,000 users across 87 countries. Its subscribers work in all links of the supply chain: raw materials, brands and retailers, mostly in the apparel markets, as well as non-fashion users such as mobile phone and automotive companies and a growing number in the interiors market. And four years ago it launched the WGSN Global Fashion Awards which represents the full breadth of the industry from luxury fashion to mass-market, taking in emerging and student designers along the way.

WGSN has over 300 editorial and design team members and offices in 21 countries providing deep and wide-ranging coverage: a mix of forecasting and reportage. Julie explains: “We call it bubble up trickle down, we have a robust methodology around our trend forecasting, it is part science part magic. We look at the key themes, what consumers are doing, we look at art, music, festivals, architecture, what’s going on economically, what’s happening in different geographies, all of that gets funnelled into a big melting pot. And out of that we surface our key themes and trends.”

wgsn.com

Combined with this there is also regional trend information, what’s happening on the streets, celebrities, TV and more. Julie continues: “A whole bunch of things are happening right here and now that will affect retail tomorrow. We’re famous for our trend forecasting and our catwalk coverage, and more and more we are looking at what’s happening in-store today, we’re looking at the analytics side of retail, how ranges are being put together, what this means for our customers and their competitive set. What’s happening down the catwalk: are stripes up, is green out? Hard data that combines with the soft information that we’re well-known for, it’s a complex matrix of different information that surfaces at different points in the product lifecycle. Different customer types have different uses for the information.”

The reporting team is made up of industry professionals offering real insight into their market niches. Each year, WGSN runs extensive coverage of the Texprint programme’s 24 designers. WGSN’s head of materials and knit Helen Palmer is a knitwear and yarn expert with over 17 years' experience in design, product development and trend forecasting. She says: “We associate ourselves with projects we feel strongly about: Texprint is a showcase of the top creative textile graduates of the year and the candidate caliber is consistently high.”

WGSN global colour team (centre: in grey, Helen Palmer, Head of Materials & Knitwear; right: Fiona Coleman, Global Head of Colour)

Helen is a regular participant in the Texprint selection process, giving her time to help pick the best 24 out of over 200 candidates put forward by their colleges. “I can see a lot of benefits in the whole process. For the people who don’t make the final selection, the interview gives them food for thought to develop their work. We give quite honest feedback and sometimes challenge them to think about their work in a different way, to put it into perspective away from the college’s house style or the influence of a particular tutor.”

Helen and her team maintain a dialogue with education and work closely with key textile design courses including Brighton University, Central St Martins and Nottingham Trent University on product development projects which go into the forecasting reports, as well as sponsoring placements and taking fledgling designers out to view industry exhibitions.

In Helen’s view, Texprint’s selection panelists pick the most diverse and interesting new graduate designers. “It’s such a great project, it’s a door into creativity, we enjoy the engagement, it adds to our understanding of the creative process.”

She continues: “The criteria is that Texprint is a showcase for selling and the designers have to have viable products commercially.”

Back to Julie, with your commercial head on, is it important for designers to have commercial nous as well as design talent? “Yes, unequivocally! It’s very interesting to listen to a designer like Mary Katrantzou, she talks very well about learning the business. You can be an amazing designer but not sell a thing. It’s a tough commercial world out there and at the end of the day it’s got to sell.”

Article tags: fashion (36), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), texprint 2013 (23)

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