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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)

Jane Coffey: passing on her studio-building experience

20 June 2013 by Editor

Working on the assumption that learning from someone else’s experience can both fast track success and help avoid costly mistakes, Texprint is piloting a new Hero Mentor initiative in 2013. This informal scheme will link successful Texprint alumni with those Texprint 2013 designers who wish to work freelance or establish their own businesses.

One shining example of a successful textile-based business is screen printer Jane Coffey.  Sadly Jane won’t be participating in the Hero Mentor scheme as for some years now she has lived in Australia!

Jane graduated from the RCA and was selected for Texprint in 1999. She says: “Being selected for Texprint took me by surprise, it was such an amazing opportunity to show my work at Indigo. Now as a business owner I look back and realise that due to inexperience I probably didn't fully maximise the opportunity. So my message to all Texprint designers is to work hard and develop your portfolio of work because if successful at Indigo the contacts made can really help in launching your own studio.”

What happened next?

When I left the Royal College of Art I had a lot of money to pay back!  My first job was with a CAD/CAM textile company (now Lectra) where I learnt how to use software and drew illustrations of clothing and accessories for Burberry - dog coats and lots of checks! As it turns out I loved working with technology and ended up teaching other designers how to use the CAD systems, taking my new skills into different workplaces and meeting many different designers - invaluable later for my own business where knowledge of digital printers and systems became really important.

I then worked as a designer for Peagreen Studio who exhibit and sell at Indigo and other trade shows.

However I always hankered after running my own business.  I met my husband Adam, an engineer, in Winchester and we moved to Australia in 2005. There weren't many design companies in Perth so we decided to set up our own – our first studio was called Little Design Horse. Australia has grants for export development and we travelled around the world selling our design work.

We always wanted to create our own products so we gradually started buying machines. Every year a certain amount of profit from selling textile design went into buying new equipment. Our first was a 4-colour rotary screen printer for printing T-shirts – as our studio had a shop space at the front, so we opened the doors and started selling T-shirts that we'd printed (in the garage!). We had our first child in 2008 and that prompted us to start making more of our own products and we've never looked back.

Exhibiting and selling our products at local markets was a really important step for us and helped us find our customers. The website came later.

In the UK we're noting a move towards smaller designer/makers buying machinery and setting up their own businesses.  Is this a because of the web, that it's now easier to become an e-tailer rather than suffer rent costs?  Is it about independence and flexibility? Is it about provenance and customers wanting local product?

Yes to all these points. What I would point out though is that while the web allows you to sell overseas more easily, never underestimate your local market. Over time we've come to realise that we have a strong local following and these are the really important people. As is being inspired by what's around you. People like to buy something that makes them feel proud of where they live or to show off where they have visited. Selling independently means you don't have to follow trends or answer to big department stores. That's a huge freedom that you have to take advantage of.

As for retail costs, our shop/workshop Future Shelter is under one roof so is more economical. We made the move from textile studio to retailer very slowly over four years allowing time for our shop to be discovered without solely relying on a retail income. We have a bench behind the counter where we make or package products while the customer decides to buy - customers actually love this and it means our overheads are lower.

What is your set up in the studio?

In our workshop we currently have a large format digital printer, 4-colour rotary T-shirt press and screen printing facilities, a laser cutter, industrial sewing machines, a woodworking section with lots of tools big and small including a CNC cutter, and many custom built machines to make different products such as the coasters. Our latest machine is a digital ceramic decal printer and a kiln. I’m so lucky that Adam is an engineer who loves to work with all these things!

What are the difficulties you've encountered - what are the pluses?

The big plus is that I have my dream set up. We love the design and manufacturing sides, and bringing these under one roof allows us to learn about waste and test products in small batches before committing to bigger runs. This means we can be more experimental with design and not be frozen by feeling the need to follow the current trend.

Our main difficulties have been with outsourcing sewing or sometimes finding the ideal raw materials. Other difficulties have been keeping up with demand. We have purposely kept marketing to a minimum to allow us to grow slowly. This has been a really important as even with this idea of 'slow cooking' a brand and letting it naturally grow, we have a crunch time around Christmas getting orders out the door in time.

Scaling up too quickly can be a big problem if you don't plan it properly. We are right on the borderline of needed a bigger industrial space which means leasing two spaces, one retail and one industrial. Having a spilt site means needing more staff to cover the shop and production, finding the right space at the right price near public transport for your staff etc.  So our next move will be a big one – and that has to be timed just right!

Another big difficulty has to be running your business with a small family - it's not easy juggling everything. I have a portable workspace in my sketchbook!

Many thanks Jane, and finally, what does the future hold?

We do a small amount of commission work for architects and private homes which is fun, so who knows where that will take us.

We need a bigger workshop and ultimately we’d like to build a workshop with a residence above or nearby - oh, and a fabric printer would complete our array of machines very nicely!

http://futureshelter.com/drupal/

Article tags: print (31), alumni (45), home & interiors (28), general (61), business (54)

Texprint talks: Gilles Lasbordes, MD of Première Vision

17 June 2013 by

Gilles Lasbordes is the managing director of Première Vision S.A., the leading international textile and fabric show, otherwise known as PV. Première Vision was established in 1973 as a group presentation by 15 Lyonnais silk weavers. Today the Paris-based exhibition is the corner stone of Première Vision Pluriel, the group of six shows – Première Vision, Expofil, Indigo, Modamont, Le Cuir à Paris and Zoom by Fatex - that service the fashion industry from fibre to leather, accessories, textile designs and fabrics. With over 1,900 international exhibitors, the show group brings together 58,000 fashion industry professionals in Paris twice a year.

Each September, through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, the 24 selected Texprint designers are given the opportunity to have their own exhibition stands at Indigo, the show of original textile and surface design. And the event also hosts the Texprint prize giving ceremony. Gilles is passionate about supporting and nurturing young design talent as he tells Texprint:

Congratulations on your recent promotion. Can you tell us about your new role?

I started working for Première Vision in 2004 and I recently became the managing director of the Première Vision group. My role involves strategic and operational management, I am closely involved with our ongoing worldwide events – in total we have 24 shows per year. I am more directly involved with the Indigo (Paris, New York, Brussels), Modamont and Expofil shows and many back office activities that make our events a reality.

Left: Gilles Lasbordes

Paris looks like a beautiful place to live – good food, gorgeous architecture and a rich culture - what is a typical day like for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. When I am not travelling, I often have meetings to discuss and prepare the upcoming exhibitions whether they are one month or up to a year in the future. But I do have a motorbike which I ride everyday – I love travelling around Paris, seeing the beautiful architecture and monuments.

Première Vision has exhibitions in New York, Sao Paulo, Brussels, Moscow and Shanghai as well as Paris, and you hold exhibitor meetings around the world, how often do you travel on business, what do you enjoy about it and what are your favourite places to visit?

I travel a lot because we are an international company and Paris is an international show not only from the exhibitors’ point of view but also from the visitors’ point of view. I really don’t have a favourite place to visit. Every country I visit is different, each city is very diverse and what I love is seeing the diversity of the fashion industry. Also now with globalisation brands have become global, but I enjoy seeing local brands as they make the market more interesting and diverse.

The exhibitions Première Vision, Modamont and Indigo have direct links with and support three organisations that nurture new design talent. Can you tell us why you have made this an integral part of your activities?

Première Vision, Expofil and Modamont all focus on the creative part of the fashion industry - we are not a trade show for commodities. When you are a trade show organiser and your event represents an industry on such a large scale, you have to support the industry you work for. Whether they will work for textile or fashion companies, we believe that graduate designers are the future of our industry. We support the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, International Talent Support and Texprint because we want to help a new generation of creators to emerge. We want to help that generation to maintain a highly creative fashion industry in the future. Texprint is very textile-oriented so we share the same roots, textiles is what Première Vision is made of.

Nearly half of Indigo’s exhibitors are based in / trained in Britain. What is it about the UK’s art school system that produces so many creative talents?

Well from my point of view, UK art and design schools have a good balance between being creative and being market-oriented. This understanding of the industry, the mix of high creativity and business, is what companies are expecting from their new employees.

What does the addition of the Texprint group in September add to the mix of studios at Indigo?

At Indigo studios present their own culture, DNA and artistic direction. The Texprint designers give us boundless creativity and innovation, it is our R&D. They often present something new and innovative, for example, in the way they mix various innovative textile techniques such as print and embroidery, print and knitted garments or 3D textiles with unusual raw materials.

Being able to show their designs at Indigo is a really exciting opportunity for the 24 graduate designers; do you have any advice for this year’s Texprint’s group?

I’m hoping to see lots of successful sales and so the designers need to be prepared to negotiate! They should have an idea of prices and also network to make useful connections at Indigo. The designers have to be ready to meet with professionals and act in a professional manner. But I know that they are very well trained by the Texprint team and when they come to Paris they will definitely be ready to make the most of this opportunity. 

 

Trend Forum at Première Vision

Article tags: exhibition (24), fashion (36), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), paris (4), texprint 2013 (23)

The Selection Process 2013 – judge Damian Shaw

12 June 2013 by

Please note: Due to unforeseen work commitments Damian Shaw was unable to judge Texprint 2013. The role of a merchandising director requires an extensive knowledge of a brand’s DNA – thinking about how best to translate an aesthetic for a globally diverse clientele. Damian Shaw is currently championing that task for McQ at Alexander McQueen, one of fashion’s most prominent luxury brands. On 9 July, 2013, he will join four other fashion industry experts to select special prize-winners for Body, Space, Pattern and Colour among the 24 chosen Texprint designers.

Damian Shaw / Images of McQ autumn winter 2013 collection: Style.com

Proving that an eye for style is often a small portion of the creative talent behind most in the fashion world, many may be surprised to know that Damian completed a degree at the Royal College of Music in classical piano performance before deciding to move into the world of fashion. His passion first took him to Liberty of London where he served as a buyer for nine years until moving onto become the merchandise and marketing director for the international ready-to-wear line at Chloé in 2003. After a brief stint in the same position at Julien Macdonald, Damian found his way to McQ in April 2011.

Damian views textiles from a commercial point of view, which involves examining not only the physical properties such as structure and colour, but also every aspect of its commercial potential including wearability and desirability. He shares Texprint’s passion for promoting new growth within the textile sector: “The industry runs on fresh talent. It’s important to nurture this symbiotic relationship by supporting the new generation of designers. Both sides have a lot to learn from each other – designers gain practical experience while the industry gets a fresh burst of new talent and a renewed perspective.”

Seeing as the Alexander McQueen label, and consequently McQ, has been built on design ideals that glorify a union of innovation and extreme aesthetics, it’s no wonder that Damian is enthusiastic about the circulation of new blood within the industry. Young talent often needs a platform and some support along the road to becoming the leaders of tomorrow. The company has a history of providing designers with life-changing support – Lee McQueen was helped early on by mentor Isabella Blow. Even current creative director Sarah Burton was once an intern before becoming the protégé of the late McQueen. Damian affirms that “it’s vital for those of us in the industry to pass on as much information as possible to the next generation of design talent here in the UK”.

Article tags: fashion (36), general (61), business (54), texprint london (19), judges 2013 (13)

Marie Parsons: My first year at Jaguar

10 June 2013 by Editor

©Marie Parsons: RCA 2011 final collection, laser cut laminate, metal and rubber

Marie Parsons (Texprint 2011) writes for Texprint about her experience of working with auto manufacturer and heritage brand Jaguar:

Jaguar is synonymous with great British design, luxury, and honesty in materials. I have long felt an emotional attachment to the brand: my dad owned Jags and being driven in his car always gave me a real sense of occasion. So when I was approached at my RCA show in 2011 about a role in the company’s Advanced Design team as a Colour and Materials Designer, I was understandably delighted.

Marie Parsons, left, with Jaguar creative specialist Siobhan Hughes

‘Jaguars are a perfect blend of luxury and performance in a very contemporary and emotional product. We believe our design teams are leaders in not just car design, but also in defining the luxury experience. We endeavor to find the best design talent from across the world, not just car designers but people who have the best insight into fashion, materials and product design. More often than not these sorts of talents are found in abundance at the Royal College of Art.’  Julian Thomson Advanced Design Director-Jaguar Cars

In my experience, working in the automotive industry is rarely considered as a likely option for textile designers. I specialised in mixed media at the RCA and in stitch at Chelsea College of Art & Design. During that time I sold freelance work to the New York market; to DKNY, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, DVF and Armani Exchange, and later to NIKE when showing at Indigo as part of Texprint.

While the fashion industry was always my target, and continues to be my richest source of inspiration, at the RCA I concluded it was materials, their capabilities, restrictions, unexpected application and combinations that really excite me. I saw the opportunity to work for Jaguar as a challenging and welcome progression, an environment in which I could continue to explore new materials and processes in a more considered, luxurious and sophisticated manner.

At the RCA, my work was about reinterpreting traditional hand embroidery techniques in innovative ways, through digital machine embroidery and laser cutting. My graduate project was a collection of digitally embroidered shoes and a luggage trunk both inspired by the depth of reverse applique and quilting, juxtaposing rigid plastics alongside tactile latex. 

Left: Marie Parsons with Professor Clare Johnston RCA at Texprint Coutts dinner March 2013; Centre and right: ©Marie Parsons: RCA 2011 final collection

My work today continues to be inquisitive and innovative. In Jaguar’s advanced design department, we work five to 10 years ahead. As it takes typically four to five years to develop a car, our role is to discover and develop advanced material ideas for car interiors and exterior details. We define the colour and material strategy and design intent of pre-production and concept vehicles.

I work in a small team of three designers, all from non-automotive backgrounds, led by creative specialist Siobhan Hughes. Our diverse backgrounds make for a dynamic and well-informed team, each bringing something unique to the table - with an area of specialism and acting as project manager for our individual programme.

We explore the 'A' surface materials: these range from woods through to rubbers, flooring, specialist paints, plastics, metal, leather, fabrics and integrated technologies; and also the 'B' surface materials which take into account eco and sustainability issues, after life and lightweight material solutions. We work to recreate familiar techniques such as perforation and embossing, embroidery and quilting.

A typical day could involve anything from rendering material ideas on an interior sketch, trend and market research, analysing material lab results, presenting proposals to senior management, checking colour in the light box, or sampling new finishes and techniques with the painters and trimmers.

My favourite aspect of the job is the continual learning process. We have so much technology and expertise on one site - in a five minute walk you can observe a clay car being modelled to scale by hand, parts being 3D printed, seats being hand-stitched, and then interact with the finished product in a virtual reality pod.

I’ve had to take on board a vast amount of information to over the last 18 months. Cars are incredibly complex objects of design and engineering and there are many factors to consider when putting forward new ideas. Materials must be premium quality with the correct aesthetic values but the longevity to still look good in the vehicle in 10 years time.

Despite working in the advanced team, materials and colours must be fit for purpose. There is a skill to retaining creativity while working with restrictions and to budget. I have learnt to employ a different eye when researching, one that is Jaguar specific, and to consider feasibility, brand values and the customer in everything I do.

Being well informed and up to date with trends and technology is crucial. My role has involved a great deal of travel in the last year - visiting suppliers, trade shows, exhibitions, mills, factories and universities - with the highlight of 2012 being an extensive research trip to China.

It’s an exciting time to be at the company, Jaguar is investing in and nurturing young designers who are given real responsibility and the chance to work alongside experienced senior designers, modellers, and technicians; with exposure to the wider business, meeting with PR, marketing and purchasing, allowing for constant and fast paced development. This energy and spirit of community makes me feel integral to the future of a thriving iconic British brand.

Article tags: alumni (45), texprint 2011 (31), mixed media (24), business (54), technology (9), accessories (15)

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