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Texprint Connects with Italian Textile Giants

25 October 2015 by Editor

Cones of brightly coloured silk at the Ratti silk-weaving facility

More than ever supporting graduate designers through properly structured internships is invaluable to fast track commercial awareness and industry experience, and Texprint’s ongoing relationship with Italian trade organization Unindustria Como is a great example of the benefits such a relationship can bring.

Unindustria Como is responsible for organizing an invaluable and unforgettable experience for promising European textile design talent, including for 2015, seven talented Texprint designers - the ComON creativity week, followed by seven-week internships with many of the globally renowned textile companies based around Lake Como in Italy. These are companies that have long understood the importance of investing in their future.

Designers with Lake Como in the background

Three Texprint representatives were invited by Unindustria Como to join the designers for the ComOn creativity week.  Creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre, who has taken part in the proceedings since the launch of the event nine years ago, also sponsorship director Joanna Bowring and chairman Barbara Kennington were delighted to accept and joined the Texprint designers for a packed few days of introductions and activities. Also invited were three professors from European institutions whose students were taking part. 

Fabric swatches from the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives

For the designers, their 7-week internships started with an Italian language class - not only are they going to be working in a new country, but also tackling a new language! Then, joined by the professors and Texprint team there were visits to the fascinating Antonio Ratti Foundation Archives and silk exhibition 'the silk gardens'; and to the Ratti and Canepa manufacturing plants to view their state-of-the-art production facilities and their inspiring textile archives. 

Designers looking at the Ratti factory archives

Designers being shown around the Ratti design studios

The next day a trip over the border to Switzerland to visit Consitex SA, the super-efficient bespoke menswear manufacturing unit where brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna and Tom Ford are made.  There was also a day visit to the Milan Expo 2015, a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries aimed to demonstrate a concrete answer to a vital need: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life (this exhibition closes 31 October). Plus visits to Centro Tessile Serico, the textile testing laboratory, and the Como Silk Museum.  All-in-all, a packed programme!


British Pavilion at Milan expo 2015

Each evening the designers, visiting professors and Texprint team were joined by Unindustria Como members to enjoy dinner together.  On the last evening dinner was preceded by a reception in Como at an exhibition specially created for the young designers by Miniartextil, a unique organization that showcases the work of international textile artists.

Dinner with new friends and colleagues

The seven Texprint designers were matched with the following companies: Amy Bennett (print) with E.Boselli & C. SpA; Emma McCluskey (print) with Seterie Argenti SpA; Ciaran Moore (print) with Teseo SpA; Jessica Pickard (print) with Lisa SpA; Joanna Robins (mixed media) with Luigi Verga SpA; Stephanie Rolph (mixed media) with A.M. Taborelli SpA; and Gilles Werbrouck (knit) with Colombo SpA.

Our thanks to all these companies for providing the designers with this unique opportunity to experience working with textiles in Italy.

Peter Ring-Lefevre concludes: “Unindustria Como and ComON’s mission to create a hub of textile creativity fits perfectly with Texprint’s own desire to ensure that designers selected for Texprint are as prepared as possible for their future careers in the textile industry.  We truly applaud the Italian companies’ imagination and commitment to the textile design talent of the future.”

Unindustria Como, and Ratti/Marzotto Group are valued sponsors of Texprint.

Miniartextil exhibition of inspirational international textile art

Designers looking at the Ratti factory archives

Fabric from the Ratti Fondation archives

Dinner with some of the other visiting participants

Desk at Ratti where the emphasis is on creating original artwork

Illustrating the sheer scale of the Ratti factory archives

Fabric designs from the Ratti Fondation archives

Print screens at the Ratti factory

Texprint alumni story: Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner

05 October 2015 by Roger Tredre

FW & S - Jane Zhang, James Skinner and Tali Furman

Three designers from Texprint 2014 have joined forces to create their own London-based printed textiles studio. They launched at Première Vision Designs this September.

There’s Jane Zhang, from China. And Tali Furman from Israel. And James Skinner from Britain. Three designers, all stars of Texprint 2014, who have now formed their own limited company authoritatively named Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner.

Sometimes, even at a very early stage, you get a feeling that people were just meant to work together. You get that feeling with these three, all very different characters with different creative talents, but sparking off each other in a dynamic partnership with long-term potential. Judging by the amount of interest shown in their work at Première Vision Designs in September (including some major commissions), the industry agrees.

The work on display in Paris reflected their enjoyment in hand painting and screen printing. Even their digital work has painterly techniques in it. They are passionate about showing work that has a human element.

All three of them had been encouragingly busy since Texprint 2014, but they all craved the excitement of creating their own company. James Skinner tells the story: “We started talking about it last year. I was working with Circleline, Tali was with Burberry, Jane was with a number of Chinese clients. We started speaking again in May and drew up a business plan.”

They have a studio in Hackney, but are already looking for a bigger space in south London. James believes they complement each other well: “We’re all very different, but we want to cover a broad market. We are heavily promoting hand drawing, painting, screen printing ­– the craft side of things. For us, it’s a more interesting way of designing. It keeps us interested if we are experimenting and learning new things. We can also bring something new to the market – and clients like to see that designers are passionate about what they are doing.”

Little more than a year since they moved on from Texprint, the three of them have already acquired the ability to talk about their work like well-established professionals. Tali says she enjoys the marketing and business aspect of having her own business. “My job at Burberry was very creative and gave me professional expertise, so I owe a lot to them. But I like to be hands-on with business and sales too. For me personally, I really like to work like this in a small team. We also really like the travelling part – the exploring.”

Jane adds: “We can benefit from each other’s styles. For example, I got some freelance from China that was just perfect to pass on to James. We are all from different backgrounds. Personality-wise, we balance very well.”

Jane speaks Mandarin, of course, while Tali has Russian – linguistic skills that are helping them to market the company.

They look back on their Texprint experience in 2014 with warmth and fondness. James says: “Texprint changed me a lot. It gave me the confidence to go out there and know that the dreams I have will actually manifest. It gave me contacts, clients, opportunities I would never have had – and all straight out of university. It threw me straight into the industry.”

Next step for Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner is a trip to Intertextile Shanghai in October, with the support of UKTI, the UK government department that works with businesses. The three designers are demonstrably excited by the prospect – and by the possibilities that lie ahead. James concludes: “All three of us like to be in control, to understand every aspect of the business. We like to control our destiny.” They’re certainly doing that.


Jessica Leclere wins Woolmark Company Texprint Award 2015

24 September 2015 by Roger Tredre

Winner Jessica Leclere shows her work to Franco Fabrello and Kit Neale

Texprint's long links with The Woolmark Company are celebrated each year with the award of a prize in Paris at Première Vision Designs.

The judging for the Woolmark Company Texprint Award takes place right at the heart of things – at Première Vision Designs itself (September 15–17). And the judges were immediately impressed by Jessica Leclere's intricate handmade work.

Working with a focused, understated colour palette, the Anglo-French designer, who studied at Chelsea College of Arts and the Royal College of Art, explores structure and shape with exceptional imagination, also developing her knitted textiles into garments to show off their qualities. Both Emily Grieves and Gilles Werbrouck were highly commended.

The judges reviewing the work of designer Stephanie Rolph

This year's two judges were Franco Fabrello, head of design at Italian textile giant Marzotto, together with UK fashion designer Kit Neale. “Jessica has developed her craftsmanship and technique into something contemporary and distinct,” noted Fabrello.

Texprint designers eligible for the award must incorporate a minimum of 60% of Merino wool into their textiles, and demonstrate a good understanding of its qualities and potential application in fabric.

Leclere said: “I like to use Merino wool because of the way that it falls and because of its luxurious feel. Winning The Woolmark Company Texprint prize means that I will be able to investigate manufacturing and it will be invaluable in sourcing wonderful yarn.”

Jessica Leclere with Franco Fabrello, Rosita Missoni (prize presenter) and Kit Neale

Designer and judge Kit Neale, who launched his own label in 2011, enjoyed exploring all the work: “The overall standard is very high. Each designer has their own unique style and individual approach, which is really impressive and a great expression of Britain’s design graduates' creativity and artistry.”

Franco Fabrello commented on the high level of technical and creative ability demonstrated by all the Texprint designers. “I really liked the combination of the modern and the artisanal. These young designers are showing strong colour sense, technique and experimentation while recognising the reality of the commercial world.”

Round table discussion to select the winner

Rob Langtry, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at The Woolmark Company, was delighted with the choice of winner and emphasised the importance of Texprint's work. “Texprint has been and remains one of the key programmes we support. It is critical to the future of fashion – and textile designers are the key to matching emerging consumer demands to products that can meet those aesthetics.”

Judges review the work of designer Emily Grieves

Judges review the work of designer Áine Byrne

Judges review the work of designer Alex Pengelly

Texprint 2015 Paris: Première Vision Designs

18 September 2015 by Roger Tredre

Prize presenter Rosita Missoni with Texprint creative director, Peter Ring-Lefevre

The participation of all the Texprint designers in Première Vision Designs in Paris is the climax of the Texprint year. Here’s what happened.

It’s the ultimate challenge – the first response of international buyers to Texprint’s young design talent. Every September, all 24 textile designers selected for Texprint put their work in front of the global market at Première Vision Designs (previously known as Indigo).

Texprint 2015 designers with prize presenter Rosita Missoni

The three days in Paris (September 15–17) represent one giant learning experience – and this year the verdict from the industry was one giant thumbs-up. As many as 16 of the 24 designers had taken orders by the close of day one, a record-breaking number, reflecting the quality on offer.

Designers such as Jessica Leclere, who plays with structure and shape inspired by Art Deco and Russian Constructivism to suggest new directions for knitwear. She scooped two awards in Paris: the Texprint Woolmark Company Award and the Texprint Fashion Award.

Gilles Lasborde, managing director of Première Vision Design, talks of the important link between PV and Texprint

Leclere, who studied at Chelsea College of Arts and the Royal College of Art, said she had found the experience of exhibiting at PV Designs occasionally stressful but appreciated sharing it with 23 other designers. “It’s been nice to be with people in the same boat, to have the same worries – it’s reassuring to know that others feel the same way.”

Designer Shivani Chavda shows her collection to buyers

Or take Jayne Goulding, who worked for five years at retailer Marks & Spencer in lingerie design, but is now setting up on her own following completion of an MA at Bath School of Art & Design. By early on the second morning, her stand was looking somewhat bare: “I sold so much on day one – there’s not much left! I can’t believe it. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.”

The days in Paris start for the designers at 6am running through until 7pm. Supported by Texprint’s specialist team, they have to be ready to talk brilliantly about their work to visitors and conclude business deals on the spot. Print designer Jessica Pickard said: “It is a long day, but really exciting. I did a few sales over the summer so I wasn’t too worried about the invoicing process. The buyers like my big motifs – the large-scale statement pieces with a hand-drawn aspect.”

Texprint Creative Director Peter Ring-Lefevre said: “Many of the designers have outstanding fine art and drawing skills but also know how to translate them onto computer. Their work stands out from the purely digital printed designs – and the industry at large is looking for this.”

Truly inventive digital work can also make an impact, such as Ciaran Moore’s brilliant fluid print collection and Amy Bennett’s quirky hyper-real prints.

Designer Ciaran Moore shows his collection to buyers

Also among the award winners this year was print designer Emma McCluskey, who won the Texprint Colour Award (sponsored by Mode Information) for her delightful prints inspired by Scottish botanical gardens. She studied Textile Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

Mixed media designer Joanna Robins, who graduated from University of West of England (UWE) Bristol this year, won the Texprint Pattern Award, while The Texprint Interiors Award went to Icelandic weave designer Anja Alexandersdottir, a graduate from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

This year’s judges, who made their choices back in July at Texprint London, were British couturier Nicholas Oakwell; Ariane Bigot, associate fashion director for Première Vision; Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda; and Julie Hall, head of design, Bedeck. The winner of a special new award from Bedeck is expected to be announced shortly.

Prize winners Emma McCluskey, Anja Alexandersdottir, Jessica Leclere and Joanna Robins, with Rosita Missoni

As Première Vision Designs drew to a close, Joanna Bowring, Sponsorship Director of Texprint, noted the strength across the disciplines. “This year there were six designers each in print, knit, weave and mixed media, compared with the last three years that have been dominated by print. Knit was strong this year, with weave also coming up, reflecting a focus on texture.”

The Texprint prizes were presented by the legendary Rosita Missoni, who founded Missoni in the 1950s with her husband Ottavio. Missoni, now in her eighties, had powerful, moving words of encouragement for the young designers, recalling how she progressed from Gallarate, an unassuming industrial town near Milan, to being feted by American Vogue in New York. “I’m so impressed by your work,” she told the designers. “Believe in yourselves,” she said. “And meet the right people!”

Rosita Missoni encourages the designers on their next career steps

Now that PV is over, two of the designers repeat the experience at the major Asian show, Intertextile Shanghai (October 13–15). Seven of the designers are preparing for extended internships in Como, continuing Texprint’s long-running connections with the finest Italian mills. And some are starting new jobs, including knitwear designer Alex Pengelly, who has landed a job with Nike in the US giant’s London studio following a meeting at Texprint London back in July. “I’m very interested in pushing knitwear forward and challenging preconceived notions about it,” she said.

That philosophy of challenging preconceived notions runs through much of the best work on offer from Texprint 2015. A vintage generation, on the cusp of making their mark on the textile industry.

Designer Jessica Pickard shows her collection to buyers

Introducing Texprint 2015 prize presenter: Rosita Missoni

11 September 2015 by Roger Tredre

The legendary Rosita Missoni, who founded Missoni with her late husband Ottavio more than 50 years ago, is presenting the Texprint prizes at Premre Vision Designs in Paris.

She's in her eighties now, but Rosita Missoni is the kind of woman who likes to keep busy. Which is great news for Texprint – we are honoured indeed that she has agreed to present the prizes at Première Vision Designs on September 16.


Rosita and her husband Ottavio (known as Tai) set up Missoni back in 1953 in her hometown of Gallarate near Milan. Tai, a 1948 Olympics athlete, already had a business making knitted sportswear, while her family was in the homewares and textiles business. They focused on knitwear, beginning with one machine that could only do stripes. The addition of Raschel machines that made a zigzag set them on the path to their distinctive space-dyed zigzags, first shown in Florence in 1969.

The Missoni business was part of a new wave of Italian design that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, putting ‘Made in Italy’ on the global fashion map. In terms of colour and pattern particularly, Missoni has made a huge impact on the modern fashion landscape.

Family is all-important to the Missonis. In 1997 Rosita handed over the fashion side of the business to her daughter Angela. In the years that followed, she found stepping back did not keep her busy, so she turned her energies to Missoni Home, which has grown fast in recent years, even developing lifestyle hotels.


Rosita Missoni says her interest in design has been lifelong: “I realised I had a knack for interior design when I was a child. My favourite game was to create a house or living room in the heath forest of my village, Golasecca.”

With her family’s textile factory to explore, Rosita was enthralled. "For a girl who loves getting dressed up, to have colour and prints all around was heaven. It was my playground. I was allowed to dig in the wastebaskets and go home with bits and pieces. They made me wonder and dream."

Developing the next generation of designers is close to her heart. The new generation of Missonis is certainly well involved in the business: since 2010, granddaughter Margherita has been accessories director and designer of the Missoni Mare collection. Rosita’s great-grandchildren are still a bit young to enter the business.

The year 2013 was exceptionally tough for the family, with the tragic death of Rosita’s son Vittorio in a plane crash, followed by the death of Tai at the age of 92. Two years on, however, the family has felt the time is right to celebrate its long heritage with an exhibition, Missoni, L’Arte, Il Colore, at the Museo Maga in Gallarate, near Milan (open until November 15) and an accompanying book by Rizzoli. The exhibition explores Rosita and Tai’s early inspirations and influences in creating Missoni’s vibrant mosaics of zigzags and stripes.

And so, at a moment when the fashion world is celebrating the enduring qualities of Missoni, it is appropriate that Rosita Missoni is joining Texprint in Paris to congratulate a new generation of textile designers.

Above, images from Not Just Bikinis – the title Vogue Italia gave this loose knit look, and one of the most photographed Missoni looks from 1974. Previously shown at the Whitney in New York and the Rotonda della Besana in Milan, it can once again be seen at the Missoni, L’Arte, Il Colore show.


Texprint alumnus story: William Stone, menswear designer

07 September 2015 by Roger Tredre

Young British menswear designer William Stone is attracting increasing interest at London Collections Men, both for his innovative luxury tailoring and his textiles. We spoke to him about his career and memories as a Texprint alumnus.

What are you working on right now?

Like any young designer, I have to multi-task and juggle the job between designing and running the business. Currently, I am researching and gathering ideas for my mood board for my AW16 collection, which I will show during London Collections Men in January. I also work on bespoke orders which diversify what my brand can offer – and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Your SS16 collection was much admired. Tell us about the palm tree print.

I have always been fascinated with the Victorian era as it was a period of great significance for engineering, design and science. This was my inspiration for my SS16 collection and when researching the textiles of this period I found this vintage palm tree print, which I loved. To create the denim jacket and shorts, I reworked the original to fit my pattern and had it digitally printed. 

Tell us about your use of British textiles and how you work with the mills.

For my tailoring, I use a fantastic British mill based in Huddersfield that specialises in wools and linen. One of the main aspects of my brand is to ensure the quality of fabric is a key selling point – one I do not want to compromise over.

How did Texprint help your career?

As I was graduating from my Masters [at Royal College of Art], Texprint exposed me to the business of printed textiles, which gave me a great understanding of the market needs and demands.  Whilst presenting my MA collection at Premiere Vision, a design studio approached me to work freelance for them, so essentially Texprint lead me to my first job in the textile industry. Being part of Texprint also allowed me to meet and engage with established designers and industry influencers, gaining invaluable advice.   

Explain how your career evolved after Texprint.

As a result of Texprint, I worked freelance for various brands as a print designer but simultaneously I was already exploring ideas for my own namesake label. In order to gain more technical skills in garment making, I studied Bespoke Tailoring at Newham College with Savile Row. This laid the foundation for the DNA of my brand.  I am now into my fourth collection with two solo presentations.

How did you first become interested in textiles?

Before I started my art and design foundation course at Middlesex I didn’t know what I wanted to do – only that I wanted to design. Then one of my tutors at the time suggested I try printed textiles. It took me a few months to get into it as I thought my friends might laugh at me for choosing a ‘feminine’ subject. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with it though – and the reality of it was my friends all thought it was amazing.

Explain the switch to focus on menswear.

I have always had an interest in menswear and have always known that I was inevitably designing for the male form so it was an organic choice.

You’ve shown at LCM twice now. How has that experience been?

Exciting. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to show during such a key moment in men’s fashion. It was the first time that I had to think outside of just the clothes and textiles and to also think about venue, stage, viewing experience and models. I have been extremely fortunate to have the support of The Complex, which support up-and-coming designers with the organisation that comes with producing a show. 

Besides your design work, what else are you interested in?

Naturally, I like spending time in creative environments such as museums and exhibitions but on the weekends, I spend time with my family and our dog, Sunny, or going to the gym. However, currently I am spending my spare waking hours watching The Game Of Thrones!

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