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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)

The Selection Process 2013 – judge Marios Schwab

20 May 2013 by

Marios Schwab: autumn winter 2013 collection

Please note: Due to unforeseen work commitments Marios Schwab was unable to judge Texprint 2013.  Who better to select Texprint’s emerging designers of the future than Marios Schwab, one the UK’s own rising stars of fashion? His intelligent collections have not only ensnared the attention of key players in the industry, he has amassed a celebrity following that includes the likes of Clémence Poséy, Chloë Sevigny and Jessica Chastain. Marios’s cutting edge designs are praise for their astute attention to cut and detail – both of which he says can be led and even inspired by innovative textiles.

Marios Schwab: spring summer 2013 collection

A 2003 graduate of Central Saint Martins, the Greek-Austrian designer finds London “an eclectic and inspiring city to work and live in” while building his eponymous label. After all, it was here that he received his mentoring from CSM legend Louise Wilson before being taken under the wing of the Fashion East initiative which helped launch his first two collections at London Fashion Week. In 2007, Marios gained acclaim after he pushed the boundaries with his first solo collection at LFW. His London successes led to him being appointed the creative director for the iconic American brand Halston, revived from one of the most popular international fashion brands of the 1970s. More recently he has collaborated with Swarovski Elements and sunglasses brand Mykita, and in 2012 he was nominated for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. Bringing his designs to a high-street audience, in 2007 he designed a capsule collection for Topshop and in 2012 he launched his first of four collections for Debenhams. 

Marios Schwab: autumn winter 2013 collection

The designer still remains one of the UK’s brightest talents and he attributes much of his success to the help that he received as a young designer. Marios is eager to return some of the career assistance that he was once given: “The support Texprint offers to the next generation of textile designers will shape them and guide them within their careers. It’s vital to keep the tradition of textile innovation alive in the UK – building on the rich heritage and expertise of the industry while ensuring it looks to the future.”

Marios’s choice of fabric is often a point of inspiration: “I like to push myself – incorporating new technological developments in cloths and combining them with traditional crafts such as lace-making to create an original Marios Schwab design.”

He encourages those starting out to constantly challenge their designs, be honest self-critics and, most importantly, hold on to determination, because “desire shines through”.

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

Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling

12 May 2013 by Editor

Emma J Shipley on her stand at Indigo 2011

The work of Emma J Shipley is very much rooted in skilled draftsmanship - her drawings intricate, her storytelling out of this world. These are certainly a great strength, but what has set Emma apart since graduating from the RCA and being selected for Texprint 2011, is her astute and instinctive grasp of what social networking can do to drive awareness of her brand.

Texprint caught up with Emma to find out more about her inspirations, her dynamic approach to creativity, and the third-party collaborations she has been working on since graduation.

©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013

-Did you always plan to set up your own business?

After I graduated from my BA in Textile Design (from Birmingham City University) I worked for a print design studio in London. This was a great experience and taught me to work under pressure and to tight deadlines, but I also realised that I really wanted to carve out my own path rather than working for someone else. I went on to study MA Textiles at the Royal College of Art as I knew I needed to develop further and I wanted to have that platform to launch my label from.

-In what ways has Texprint been able to help or benefit you?

Being able to get my work in front of so many influential industry figures so soon after graduating was invaluable. The different exhibitions in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong brought income through sales and commissions, which was so important right at the start of my label. I also met suppliers who when they saw my work at the Texprint stand at Première Vision, wanted to support me in the early stages, one of which I'm still working with to produce my luxury scarves. Texprint has also been there when I've had business or legal issues I needed advice on. 

At retail, from left: Bon Marche, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty

-How helpful has it been to communicate online via Twitter etc - how essential is social media for someone setting up their own brand identity do you think?

I've used Twitter for quite a few years - since before graduating and starting my label. I've always found it to be an amazing tool for connecting with others and finding out information in the areas I'm interested in. So I still use it for these reasons, and for my label it's the most direct way of communicating with a wide audience. Being able to instantly share an image of what I'm working on at that time, or tell people about an event I'm doing is an amazing thing. The fact that it can be a conversation means that people do feel engaged with the brand and I also get feedback on what people are really responding to or what they get excited about.

I've also found Instagram great as it's purely image-based, which really suits the creative industries. I follow lots of other users (photographers, designers, magazines etc) - it brings me inspiration as well as letting me share my own images. I'm new to Vine and although I'm personally more engaged by still images, being able to create and share short video clips can be really useful for events or exhibitions.

London Fashion Week, February 2012

-Do you work from home or studio?

A space in a shared studio. I started working from home after I graduated from the RCA but I much prefer having a workspace separate to home, and I really enjoy sharing with others who are working in creative fields. The RCA was quite an intense experience - being in the studio surrounded by other designers all the time - but it's very inspiring and I really missed that when I was working from home on my own.  

-What have been the key challenges - managing accounts, space to work, finding manufacturers, contacts?

There have been major challenges in all areas to be honest. It's been important to find people I can go to for advice… As I'm experiencing all these things for the first time there are bound to be issues and hurdles to overcome. I've also roped in my dad to help with a lot of the business side to enable me to still have time to design for my own label as well as commissions for big companies that I've been working on. 

©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013

-How do you find it working on your own, is it sometimes hard to motivate yourself? Or do you have help, an assistant?

I haven't found it hard to motivate myself at all as I've been so busy since graduating. Also as I'm in a shared studio it's a nice balance between being able to focus on my own work and also having a social and creative environment. Commissions for other companies always have short deadlines (they want everything yesterday) so I just get on with them. Designing for my own label can get pushed back if I'm working on commissions, so then when I do have time to work on my own designs I'm rearing to go. Obviously I'm passionate about my work so it's not a chore. I get excited about starting new designs and collections. I do take on students to assist me part-time, more on the sales, marketing and events side, and it's great to have a fresh look and input on what I'm doing. 

©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013

-Where are your scarves printed - in the UK or abroad?

The scarves are printed in Como, Italy, with a supplier I found through Texprint. I started out manufacturing in the UK, but unfortunately I found the suppliers unreliable and the end product ended up being too expensive even in the luxury market. The quality is better in Italy as they have a long history of silk printing - buyers from stores often comment on the amazing quality of the final pieces and I'm always pleased with them, too. 

-Has anything you've worked on gone into production under license? With which companies?

Yes - I've worked on a project with Camira Fabrics, it produces textiles for commercial interiors. This will launch at Clerkenwell Design Week in May as Emma J Shipley x Camira. I've also recently launched a collection of wallpaper and interior fabric with Osborne & Little called Kayyam. 

Collaborations with Anthropologie (wallpaper) and Camira (two new fabric designs)

Collaboration with Osborne & Little 

-What captures your imagination - as your drawn work is quite naturalistic, do you draw from life or photos?

Inspiration comes from all over the place, but my main visual inspiration is always the natural world. This can come from trips I take (I recently went on safari in South Africa which was hugely inspiring for me), photographs, films, artists and so on. I'm also inspired by ideas and books - especially Richard Dawkins’ book on evolution and Ian Stewart’s on chaos theory. My drawings can take days and weeks, and are never an exact replication of something but are a combination of different inspirations as well as coming from my imagination. So I always work in my studio, using lots of different images and photographs. 

-What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?

I love the drawing and design process the most… I enjoy the business aspects too as its all part of it, but there is a lot of admin, which isn't always thrilling. 

-What are your plans for the future?

To continue to grow my label in the UK and overseas, and to work on some interesting collaborations with bigger companies that will raise my brand profile.  

Emma has been nominated for the UKFT Rise Newcomer Awards (2013 UK Fashion and Textile Association awards) due to take place on 23 May 2013.  We wish her success in this and in the future.

Sample sale, April 2012

Emma J Shipley Ltd  info@emmajshipley.com  www.emmajshipley.com

©Emma J Shipley: spring summer 2013

Article tags: print (31), alumni (45), texprint 2011 (31), home & interiors (28), business (54), accessories (15), illustration (9)

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