Texprint 2014: Interview to Indigo
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In conversation with The Woolmark Company prize judge, Nino Cerruti
31 August 2014 by Editor
Nino Cerruti heads the Biella-based textile mill Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti. Founded by his grandfather in 1881, Nino Cerruti took over the business at the beginning of the 1950s, but is more widely recognised for the international success of his menswear fashion brands, Hitman and Cerruti 1881. He was the first designer to send men and women down the catwalk in the same clothes in 1968 and went on to create designs for a long list of celebrities and iconic Hollywood films including Wall Street and Basic Instinct. We talk wool, embarking in the textile industry and the role of judge with the master of cloth:
Your expertise as a fashion designer and creator of textiles will be absolutely invaluable to the Texprint designers when you meet them at Indigo in September 2014. Do you think that the work of textile designers is overlooked?
The work of people who work in textile design changes dramatically from the moment in which they join a company. When you work for a factory, you have to work to the ideas of the factory. And if you can bring a contribution then it might be a personal one. So there is a necessity that you lose some freedom. Personally I think that product development work should come from two professional perspectives; that of the designer and the merchandiser. There is a necessity of developing ideas, of looking around, but you are developing the ideas of a company, not purely your personal ideas.
Do you think it is important that we support new textile designers?
Every profession that believes in itself supports the next generation. Certainly the textile world has been under incredible stress recently and so faith in it has been weakened by doubt. Textiles has a faith, as it is so close to our bodies, to our daily lives, that it deserves more consideration than other consumer goods. It’s nobler than consumer goods, but it suffers the same diseases.
As a prize judge what are you hoping to see in the work of the 24 designers? What excites you in textile design, is it use of technology, use of colour, texture, drawing, skill or…?
I will try to judge in a balanced way, based on what I think can be useful for a person that joins a company and brings in the breath of youth. I think it is important to say that a piece of fabric is the result of several phases of the process. Like in medicine, you have various specialists – in spinning etc – in certain areas, but you still need the generalist that covers the entire process. It takes a long time to prepare people with this kind of knowledge, but it is important because otherwise you miss a point. You need generalists in textiles also.
What is it about wool that you love?
Wool is made by God. Nylon is made by humans. The artist is of a higher class.There is something more to wool. When we are born we are surrounded by wool. When you think of wool, you think of warmth, of family, of mother, in an intimate kind of way. It is probably inherited in our genes - at least in my generation. I believe wool is in danger – it is always associated with heritage, which is nice and tender, but it does not stimulate any enthusiasm. In today’s society there is a sin that is unforgivable, which is to be old. Wool needs to be reconsidered as something young and fresh. If you ask people if they think wool is cool they will look at you as if you are stupid. It needs to be promoted with seduction, which is very different. I am not sure if the iPad generation will still love wool in the same way?
Texprint in new creative skills initiative
29 July 2014 by Roger Tredre
Job opportunities for young textile and print designers look set to improve thanks to a new partnership between government and industry supported by Texprint.
The new initiative, backed by the UK government, could be hugely beneficial for young textile and print designers seeking to launch their careers.
The concept works like this: The government will provide funding for up to £183,000 to Texprint over the next two years, with roughly half of that money allocated specifically for a paid internship scheme for up to 20 designers.
For each designer, the government will contribute £4,750 on condition that the sum is matched by the employer. That means subsidised internships worth £9,500.
The concept is known as the Employer Ownership Pilot Round 2 (EOP2), a rather unwieldy title that disguises the bold and important nature of the initiative. The UK government likes to point out that the UK creative industries generate £71bn in revenue each year and support 1.71m jobs. Business Secretary Vince Cable says: "The creative industries play a key role in the UK economy."
Designer Emma J Shipley, a high-profile alumna of Texprint, says: "This is fantastic news for Texprint and means they’ll be able to offer even more support for talented textile graduates. Internships are one of the best ways of starting out in the industry and it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the very best in new textile design talent.”
Shipley found herself hobnobbing with government ministers at the high-profile launch at Channel 4 on July 14. The ministers were a little nervy – jumpy even. There was an explanation: Prime Minister David Cameron was in the middle of his Cabinet reshuffle. That's why Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, and Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills & Enterprise, were never far from their mobile phones while they waited for updates.
We learned later that both 'survived' the reshuffle – indeed, they prospered. Vaizey's role has been expanded to include digital industries, while Hancock has celebrated a promotion to Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy.
That they took time out on the eve of learning about their new roles emphasised the importance of the initiative, which they have both championed. David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4, which is leading the project of behalf of over 400 creative industry partners in the scheme, explained that the initiative is creating internships right across the creative sector. "It's a fragmented set of industries that has [previously] struggled to speak to government with one voice... This is the largest collaboration ever achieved across the creative industries."
David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4
Now Texprint is reaching out to companies right across the textiles sector to support the initiative. Barbara Kennington, Texprint chairman, said: "We're very pleased that the value of textile design has been recognised by Create UK... Over the next two years up to 20 design graduates will be matched with both UK and international manufacturers and retailers to expand their hands-on experience of the industry."
At the heart of the initiative is a collective desire to see the widest diversity of young textile design graduates develop careers in the industry. Overnight success is not on offer: it's about enabling designers to gain a foothold in their chosen career. Government minister Matthew Hancock acknowledges that the first step in a career is always the toughest. The transition from university or college to work is exceptionally demanding. "It's hard to get a job without having been in a job."
Jill Chatwood, lululemon athletica, selects internship award winners
21 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho
We talk to Jill Chatwood, Design Director of lululemon athletica, the Canadian athletic apparel company dedicated to making functional and equally beautiful clothing for proactive, optimistic modern women.
At lululemon athletica, customers are “guests” and store employees, “educators”. Since its founding more than 15 years ago this unorthodox approach to business and fashion has helped put lululemon on the map as the ‘go to’ innovative and fashion-led athletic apparel company. “I’m passionate about bringing together art and athleticism. These aren’t areas that people generally put together but athleticism is a form of art and art can be athletic and dynamic too,” said Jill Chatwood, design director of the Canada-based company, specialising in yoga-inspired clothing.
It’s this focus on design that is both original and commercial that drew lululemon to both sponsor Texprint and create the lululemon Texprint Internship Award, acknowledging creativity and the need for industry experience; it is also what drew Chatwood to become a judge for Texprint. “[Texprint] was always the area at Indigo/PV in Paris that had the most exciting stuff… the most exciting raw work unconstrained as yet by the garment industry”, she recalled of her first brush with Texprint.
Dennis “Chip” Wilson founded lululemon in 1998, amidst the yoga boom of the late 1990s and increasing female presence in sports. Starting from one shop in Vancouver, Canada, including a design and yoga studio as well as a retail store, the business expanded rapidly. It now has around 200 stores, mostly in North America, with a new store in Covent Garden among other locations. In 2009, the company launched a subsidiary, Ivivva Athletica, a dance and gymnastics clothing line for young girls aged six to 12.
Each lululemon store is a small universe onto itself. Store managers are much more than just managers – they decide the store’s look, from layout to colour, and control what kind of events they hold. “It’s important for us to make sure that not only are we a big brand with multiple stores but that each store is its own little micro community,” said Chatwood, who joined lululemon as a store employee in 2003.
Nurturing young design talent is another passion lululemon shares with Texprint. This winter, the company is set to launch a line of specialist cycling jerseys designed by Texprint alumna Florence Colson, one of two designers to win the lululemon Texprint Award in 2013. We sat down with Chatwood to discuss innovations in athletic wear, her interest in artful yet functional design, and the brand’s future product focus.
Jill with lululemon Texprint Internship Award selected designers; Charlotte Beevor (left) and Federica Tedeschi (right)
What drew you to become involved with Texprint?
The more I learnt about Texprint, the more it connected with what we believed in from a design perspective. Three years ago we decided to get more involved and sponsor Texprint and now we benefit, as the quality of interns we get from Texprint is unparalleled.
What is great textile design, or great design in general?
Great design is design that brings together beauty (colour and print) and function. I think both qualities have to live together in harmony, particularly in the world of modern sportswear where a garment can’t be just beautiful or useful. Form too has always been as important as function, so we can’t have something that doesn’t function for the sake of form. I think that the combination of these elements is where great design exists.
Designer Ailis Dewar shows her work to Jill and colleague judges
When did you start your relationship with lululemon?
In 2003, straight from design school - they had just opened up a store in my neighbourhood in Toronto and it was maybe only the third or fourth store at that time. I went from working in the store when I was going to school, to immediately joining the design team. It was such a good foundation - I just worked hard and did everything, from quality checks to product design, fabric and trim development.
At that time we had a tiny team of designers. Our whole company was founded on young, entrepreneurial designers, all coming together for a common goal. And this is one of the things we love about Texprint - we really love to support and nurture the energy of young, up-and-coming designers because they are the future.
What made you identify so strongly with lululemon?
The lululemon company ethos was something very original that hadn’t been created before. A modern yoga company didn’t exist before lululemon, or such a female-focused athletic brand - that was the new thing - it was really nice to see a brand emerge that was active and focused towards women. Being able to marry fashion with the active lifestyle was something that really excited me and the more I learnt about technical fabrics, the more exciting it became. To me it had so much more substance than just designing another evening gown or something like that.
What is your key focus when designing for the brand?
What excites me the most is being able to bring new ideas to the market that make people’s lives easier and better, these are also the challenges. Take safety for example - we’ve used reflective ink, yarn and fabric, all in different ways so that we can make our guests safe but in a beautiful way. Most athletic companies just put a reflective stripe down the sleeves and say, “There you go – now you’re visible”, we’ve worked hard to integrate safety and function in a more beautiful, subtle way.
Looking forward one of our goals has been creating print that feels more handmade than computer-generated - designing prints with personality and feeling, made by human beings, with love.
Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Eifion Griffiths
03 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho
We talk to Eifion Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Melin Tregwynt, a century-old Welsh wool products company that’s all about family, quality textiles and keeping tradition alive.
For Eifion Griffiths, a love of high quality textiles runs in the blood. His wool mill business, based in a remote valley on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales, is a family affair, started in 1912 when his grandfather, Henry Griffiths, bought the mill for £750 at an auction.
The 20th century’s tumult and challenges never broke Melin Tregwynt. The company survived the rationing system during World War II, the 1980s' recession and the 2008 global economic crisis. In fact, over the last five years, the company’s sales and production have more than doubled. Its unique range of wool blankets, throws and cushions – the majority of which is made through the traditional double-cloth weaving technique – has been the secret design ammunition for big name hotels, designers and retailers such as John Lewis, Heal’s, Margaret Howell and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, among others.
A firm believer in maintaining traditional methods of producing textiles, Griffiths admits he is not a fan of digital print. “[Digital printing] replicates anything and everything, regardless of the process, seemingly without any additional effort from the designer/maker," he tells Texprint. However, he adds, “I am open to persuasion and would love to see a digital design that really explored the potential of the technology.”
Much as the slow food movement prizes local produce, Melin Tregwynt strives to use more British wool and labour. This year, the company plans to launch a range of fabrics using 100 per cent pure new wool sourced from British sheep and spun in the UK.
Talking to Texprint, Griffiths discusses the struggles faced by the British textile industry, the intricacies of creating top quality textiles and Melin Tregwynt’s rich history.
What are your thoughts on an organisation such as Texprint?
I feel very strongly that the industry needs to support its young designers. Texprint helps students negotiate the journey between higher education and the commercial world. It provides support, mentoring, some necessary signposts and maps to make that journey easier.
The textile industry has suffered as work has disappeared overseas. We are beginning to see an improvement as the market is learning to value home based and traceable production. However this is almost too late to halt the rapid disappearance of skills and an ageing workforce. There's a need to get design students and industry apprentices to learn the traditional skills associated with the textile industry and build on that knowledge before all that expertise is lost forever.
Our woollen industry in Wales is an example of an industry still based on family-owned companies and there is a succession issue for those companies whose family members may not be interested in continuing in the business. A demographic time bomb is ticking under what remains of the UK textile industry.
What is great textile in your opinion?
I like designs that have the maker's mark on them. You can see the imprint of the designer’s hand and the judgement of their eye in the finished design. I like it when the way that the fabrics are made/printed/woven partly determines the form of the design. They feel right and have an authentic quality that comes from the interplay of the designer and the process of making.
What differentiates Melin Tregwynt’s woollen products from others?
We work mainly in the Welsh weaving tradition of double cloth weaving. This has its disadvantages but it gives the products an authenticity and integrity that stems mainly from the fact that the design and structure are linked. You cannot alter the design without altering the weave set up, threading, number of shafts etc. It gives the product a depth that mere surface decoration would lack.
What did you do before getting involved in the family business?
Neither my wife nor I were trained in textiles. I was actually an architect before coming back to the family business. Sometimes a level of ignorance about what you can or cannot do is useful, as we have attempted and occasionally succeeded in achieving things that anybody with any sense would have probably left well alone.
How has Melin Tregwynt being a family-owned business for so long influenced the company?
Being a family company gives us a heightened awareness of our own history and tradition. We see the products as a continuation – and each generation has reinvented the tradition to suit its market.
My grandfather used local wool and sold through local markets. There was barter and exchange but the mills of Wales were part of a much larger supply chain where flannels were woven and sold to steelworks, coal mines and army. Seemingly quaint rural mills were actually part of a much larger industrial supply chain. That came to an end after the First World War. Mills struggled to survive but we were lucky and found customers.
In the 1950s, my father discovered tourism and sold directly to visitors to the mill and to other retailers selling to tourists in Wales. When I came back to the business in 1979, I set out to find a market away from the mill that would be interested in our products. Today, we operate in a global economy and sell to a global market place. We are once again part of a large supply chain.
How do you see Melin Tregwynt evolving in future?
We see our future as primarily a retail/design company with limited production facilities whose main concerns are innovation, product design and development. Within this framework we seek to protect existing jobs at the mill and to create new jobs.
We are a native Welsh company and we are committed to manufacturing in Wales. We are actively working with other small manufacturers to create and market the best Welsh designed and manufactured products.
In a textile industry where most products are sourced overseas, we also see ourselves as a possible training resource – an opportunity for textile students to have practical experience of manufacture.
Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Sue Roberts
30 June 2014 by Roger Tredre
UK department store group House of Fraser is an exciting company to work for, not least because the company is now poised for international expansion, including Russia, China and the Middle East. This follows the announcement in April that House of Fraser is being bought by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, which wants to develop globally what it describes as an "iconic heritage brand".
The company, which has a 165-year history, has 60 stores across the UK and Ireland, including flagship stores in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, and Oxford Street, London.
On the creative front, a key member of the team at House of Fraser is Sue Roberts, Design Director Home, who has been with the company for a decade. Texprint is delighted to welcome her as a member of our judging panel for 2014.
We interviewed Sue Roberts to find out how her career has evolved and what her job involves.
How did you start out professionally?
After studying Textile and Surface Pattern at Cleveland College of Art & Design, I started my career freelancing as a textile designer specialising in embroidery. I then moved to London and worked for Marks & Spencer researching fabric trends for a few years before starting at House of Fraser where I worked my way up from Design Coordinator to Design Director. I have been there 10 years this year!
How important is it for you (and Texprint of course) to support the next generation of designers?
It is very important. I would have loved this opportunity. I didn't ever imagine that I would end up in the role I have. It is not directly related to my training but one wouldn't have come without the other. I think when you graduate you are not always aware of how your training and talent can apply to different industries. College nurtures and encourages talent and creativity, which provides you with the tools to go on to bring new perspectives to so many different areas, some of which you may not be aware of. The future of so many different things depends on it. Any experience of that industry you can get is invaluable.
What do you look for in great textile design?
There is never one thing. In my role I am constantly looking and buying textile design for very different end uses. It may be a print, an embroidery or weave, but if it looks new it is always refreshing. You always see lots of the same thing. I am looking for something that needs to be commercial but with an edge that makes it different to everyone else's. Something with a clear personality.
Why is the UK educational system so good at producing design talent?
I think we have some of the best art and design education in the world here in the UK. There is so much culture in the UK to feed from too – and some of the best opportunities.
Can you explain the parameters of your job?
I manage the Home Design Team at House of Fraser. I am responsible for creating all the seasonal colour and trend direction with my team. I also have created all the in-house Home Brand concepts and their DNA and work very closely with the buying teams to deliver these into stores. Once the trends are presented we go on sourcing trips to start the development process,
What's a typical day like for you?
The great thing about my job is that every day can be very different. I may start the day reviewing artwork with my team for various product areas that we create in-house. I may meet with individual buying teams to ensure the products they are developing work with the initial design vision. This is an ongoing process throughout the season.
I then spend time on a weekly basis with the marketing team to update on the Home Brochure, which is our in-store seasonal brochure. I am normally heavily involved in the concept, through to the shoot, then following the process through to print. I may meet with print designers to look for new prints for our eight in-house brands. All products are reviewed in stages throughout the season so there are a lot of sign off meetings across all product areas, from Furniture to Home Fragrance.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Travel plays a major part as well, from sourcing in deepest China, fabric stores in India, the colours of a fruit stall in Bangkok, to retail trips to New York or Berlin, flea markets, trade fairs, hotels, restaurants – everywhere.
Can you explain how you are seeking to evolve Home design at House of Fraser?
A few years ago I think you could walk down the high street and the Home offer was pretty limited as everyone housed the same brands. What has been so successful for House of Fraser is the launch of our in-house House Brands. By this Autumn we will have launched eight, which has given us the opportunity to design and develop exclusive products across a very diverse range of customer profiles from Biba to Shabby Chic.
Some we have created from scratch, such as Casa Couture, and for others we work closely with brand partners like Rachel Ashwell, the owner and founder of Shabby Chic.
We have never been able to do as much in-house design until now. As we continue to grow the design team I think the product offer will naturally evolve, become more exclusive and inspirational.
Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Henry Graham
10 June 2014 by Jainnie Cho
We talk to Henry Graham, Chief Creative Officer of Wolf & Badger, a London-based retail concept that is specifically designed to support new talent.
For new designers, Wolf & Badger is a very exciting prospect indeed. Back in 2009, when the global financial crisis was still in full flow, the Wolf & Badger founders – brothers Henry and George Graham – did the last thing that many would have done at such a time and launched their business. With little more than a brilliant idea, they boldly decided to dive into fashion retail, a sector in which neither of them had experience.
Wolf & Badger, based in London, is described as a “serviced retail” business, promoting and supporting young brands that might otherwise struggle to get their businesses off the ground. Its boutiques give designers or brands the opportunity to feature their products in their stores and online in return for a small monthly license fee. There is no middleman. Wolf & Badger takes a small commission, allowing the designers to keep the majority of any sales.
The brothers seem to have a knack for spotting promising new talent: young designers featured in their boutiques often go on to greater things. One such designer is Texprint and Royal College of Art alumna Emma J Shipley, whose line of signature scarves was launched at Wolf & Badger in 2011. That makes Henry Graham a perfect addition to Texprint’s judging panel for 2014.
Alumna Emma J Shipley on her Texprint stand at Indigo Paris 2011
Wolf & Badger was named one of Britain’s best boutiques by Vogue in 2010 and received the Brand of Tomorrow award from Walpole in 2011, among other accolades. The success of the first boutique in Notting Hill and online sales led to the opening of a new flagship store on prestigious Dover Street, Mayfair, in 2012.
Texprint caught up with Henry Graham to discuss textile design, talent spotting and the story behind Wolf & Badger.
What are the elements of good textile design? What makes a great textile designer?
Good textile design must be able to work within a creative context and be easily understood from several angles. A great textile designer is an artist and an inventor that translates their inspiration from life into two dimensions, ready for another artisan to recreate it into something new.
What will you be looking for as a judge at Texprint?
I will be looking for originality in the design and placement of the prints as well as understanding how the textiles can be utilised across different mediums. The best quality for young designers to have is to be confident and trust their own judgment.
What was your background before launching Wolf & Badger? Why did you decide to go into fashion retail?
I had pretty much always worked for myself, although it was primarily in the retail property sector rather than retail on the operational side or in fashion specifically.
Having said that, I have always been very inspired by and interested in clothes and all things design-led as well as having a good visual memory. When the recession came about George and I realised there was an opportunity to create a serviced retail platform where independent brands could sell direct to the consumer and share their own boutique. Since launching we now have two London stores in Notting Hill and Mayfair and a successful e-commerce site.
Wolf & Badger is often referred to as a "serviced retail" business - can you elaborate on your business model?
In consideration for a modest monthly fee from the designers we work with, we provide a seal of approval since we are known to be extremely selective in choosing which brands we work with and provide creative advice. We also showcase a capsule collection of their products in our stores and online; lend key pieces to press, stylists and bloggers; allow the designers to host trunk shows and private events in store; and also introduce them to trade buyers from major department stores and boutiques worldwide.
When we sell items on their behalf we take a commission of only 18%, thus enabling them to cut out the middleman and sell direct to the consumer. We also provide monthly reporting about what customers are saying about their collections and which pieces are being well received thus helping inform their design process.
How do you see Britain’s fashion retail sector develop in the future?
The trend is for fewer but bigger large chains that will benefit from economies of scale, and a reduction in the number of independent boutiques.
What is it like working so closely with your brother? How are your personalities and work ethic similar or different?
It is generally good working with my brother, as we understand each other's personalities. Having said that, we do argue sometimes! I am not sure if that is because we are partners or brothers. I am quiet and he isn't, so at least we are not both talking at the same time, so I would say our personalities are quite complementary. In terms of work ethic we are similar in that we both tend to respond extremely well to pressure. When things get hard or there is a deadline, then we achieve the best results.
As chief creative officer, what are the colours, textures and design themes that are inspiring you right now?
I think there continues to be a movement away from fit and structure and toward relaxed shapes and easy fitting pieces. There has also been a resurgence of embellishment, texture and theatre in textile design. I guess I would say that there is a movement toward eclecticism.
What are some of your favourite London fashion shops?
I like Rake, which is a wonderful clothes store selling menswear. They are based on Duke Street. Their clothes are very well made and the designs are fabulous and well fitting. I also like ACNE, which is on Dover Street where we have a store. They have great staff and products.
Finally, do you have any plans for Wolf & Badger to go global?
Very much so, we are currently working hard on our international expansion plans. Watch this space!
Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement
28 April 2014 by Editor
With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint, in collaboration with long-standing sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, has established its first industry internship in the UK, funded partly by Foundation Sponsor, The Drapers’ Company.
The first beneficiary is Texprint 2013 alumna Ffion Griffith, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design. The weave designer began her year long paid internship at the start of 2014 with the title of new product development assistant. She is working on innovation for base cloths, undertaking extensive research as part of the Liberty Art Fabrics team.
Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, says of the internship: "I have always believed that innovation is the lifeblood of a successful business and sustained revenue growth. The investment in our innovation program at Liberty is a top priority. Bringing together the energy and fresh ideas of Ffion and the wisdom and experience of some established industry gurus, allows us to create the Liberty textiles and designs of the future. At the same time, providing an invaluable and supported introduction to the commercial world, for an outstanding young talent at the beginning of her career."
Carey continues: “Without doubt Ffion will bring ideas and opportunities to the table. With the enthusiasm and freshness of youth, she shares new ideas that are not influenced by years of experience or commercial practicality, challenging our processes and stimulating our production and technical teams. Hers is the 'can do...’ attitude that we nurture at Liberty. During the course of the graduate intern year I anticipate that Ffion will be involved in the development, commercialisation and global launch of three new products that will generate in excess of £1million in their launch year and significantly more in subsequent years.”
Fellow Texprint sponsor The Drapers’ Company, is a co-financial supporter of the new initiative. Andrew Mellows, The Drapers’ Company head of charities, explains the impetus to get involved in the new programme: “The Drapers’ Company is aware of the difficulties involved in finding work for graduating designers today. We understand that internships are a very good way for emerging designers to get their foot in the door. This particular Liberty Art Fabrics internship is a fantastic opportunity for one of these young designers to gain valuable experience within the textile industry.”
Heritage reconsidered for a modern audience is very much the theme that links The Drapers’ Company, Liberty Art Fabrics and Texprint.
To mark this connection, in mid-March 2014 designer Ffion Griffith and Tex chairman Barbara Kennington, were given a special tour of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City of London in the company of Penny Fussel, senior achivist at The Drapers’ Company, and Jane Makower, court assistant.
Ffion Griffith (right) with Jane Makower
Founded over 600 years ago to buy and sell woolen cloth in Europe, the Drapers’ Company is incorporated by Royal Charter and is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies. Around the late 1800s The Drapers’ Company became a charity and manager of investments, primarily in land and property.
The reception and dining rooms of the Drapers’ Hall boast a wealth of decorative pieces, including many fabrics, tapestries, wallpapers, carvings and carpets specially commissioned from renowned manufacturers past and present such as Crace & Sons, Richard Humphries Weavers, Aubusson, and Morris & Co.
The Drapers' Hall, City of London
“The Drapers’ strong belief in heritage and traditions feeds into our activities across all the sectors,” says Jane Makower, “including textiles; our internal textile working party was established to initiate pilots of textile-related schemes, in the main focused on encouraging young people to develop creative and hands-on skills in the workplace.”
Liberty is similarly grounded by its heritage and story. Ffion Griffith’s first project with Liberty Art Fabrics was to research and develop new base cloths for the internationally renowned Liberty print collections. In at the deep end, Ffion already feels she has learnt so much, visiting Premiere Vision and Texworld in February, and exploring the amazing Liberty archive resource.
She is now working with new head of design Tessa Birch on the brief for spring/summer 2016, and also with Emma Mawston who heads up the new Home Textiles division, developing designs for throws, blankets and cushions.
By working with Liberty Art Fabrics for 12 months Ffion will be fully immersed in the whole seasonal cycle, tracking the creative process from research and exhibition visits, to sketch and print development, to production and presentations to buyers – an extraordinary insight, and a great advantage when it comes to the next steps in her career development.
“The Texprint programme has been a huge help in guiding me at the very start of my career and developing my commercial understanding,” says Ffion, “ had it not been for Texprint, I would not be in the position I’m in today.”
We look forward to catching up with Ffion following her next 9 months at Liberty Art Fabrics.
One of Ffion's sketchbooks, photo taken at Texprint London event 2013
Review of the year - Texprint 2013: Trained in Britain
31 December 2013 by Editor
Since early in 2013 when new initiatives were tinged with a certain financial caution, I’m delighted to confirm that Texprint made strong progress throughout the year, with some considerable success on the sponsorship front.
The Texprint mantra of ‘supporting creative futures’ has never been more true than in 2013. Under the aegis of our Trained in Britain initiative Texprint introduced a new Hero Mentors scheme, and with sponsors The Drapers’ Company has also initiated a pilot for longer-term Trained in Britain internships in industry, the first with Pattern Prize sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, which will take on its first Texprint Innovation Intern in January 2014.
The support shown by Texprint alumni for the Hero Mentors scheme has been outstanding - 24 new alumni matched with 24 established textile designers, passing on their wealth of personal experience and deep understanding of the textile, fashion and interiors industries to the next generation of textile talent, helping to make the period of experience gathering between graduation and eventual career even more meaningful.
All our Hero Mentors are highly regarded in the textile industry, a significant number run their own international businesses, and many already give their valuable time to join the rigorous Texprint Selection Panels. We are extremely proud of the strong relationship Texprint has maintained with its alumni over the years and continue to feature many success stories on our website.
Back in July 2013, the Texprint London event, where the selected designers exhibit together for the very first time, was rethought through necessity to create a ‘pop-up gallery’ feel (the gallery space kindly donated by Chelsea College of Art & Design). Having decided to forego the private view, stand build and alumni display of past years, the impact of this new approach was surprisingly positive with the invited visitors spending much more time than previously reviewing work and talking to each of the designers, who found this an invaluable experience. The judging of the Texprint Prizes, donated by The Clothworker's Foundation, Liberty Art Fabrics and Pantone, and the second Lululemon Texprint Award, also took place at the event.
In Paris in September, through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, the Texprint designers once again exhibited at Indigo/PV alongside professional studios; the designers’ stands ranged together down a ‘street’ in Hall 5 giving visiting international buyers and press the ideal opportunity to review the diverse and highly creative work of the 24 Trained in Britain designers. The judging for the third Woolmark Texprint Award also took place at Indigo. See photo reports, here and here.
For the first time a film documenting the Texprint designers’ Indigo experience was made - this kindly funded by Dominic Lowe of the Sanderson Art in Industry Trust, and created by RA Collaborations. Sponsors, designers and management all contributed, telling the story of the event in a new and vibrant manner. The resulting short film can be seen on the Texprint website.
2013 also saw Coutts generously hosting its second Texprint dinner at their headquarters on the Strand in London; an exciting new collaboration with interiors specialist Surface View; and for the first time, thanks to sponsor Messe Frankfurt (HK), an opportunity to exhibit the prize winners work at what is now the major Asian textile fair, Intertextile Shanghai.
Florence Angelica Colson, Texprint 2013, delightfully, sums up her experience: “Texprint for me has been the best thing I could have wanted to happen to me after graduating; it’s been an amazing opportunity. From the word go, great things have come from being part of Texprint - after the London exhibition I was selected to licence designs to Surface View, I was chosen to go to Italy to intern for 2 months, and although I did not know at the time, I won one of the Lululemon Texprint awards.
Italy was a weird and wonderful experience and from this I also ended up exhibiting at Mare di Moda, Cannes, which without Texprint I definitely would not have done! Also being handed the means to exhibit and trade at Indigo in Paris under my own design name was amazing and something that none of us would have been able to do by ourselves without the help and support of Texprint. Texprint has been a brilliant support network, both mentally and financially, and the other Texprinters have become like a little family to me after the experiences we have shared! Anyone chosen for Texprint is very lucky and I am so grateful for everything.”
Texprint sponsors have long understood the vital importance of reinvigorating their industry by encouraging creative young textile designers to form part of their future heritage.
Our heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors for their support, their vision, and for their steadfast investment in the next generation of Trained in Britain textile designers - and our very best wishes for 2014.
One year on: Israel Parra-Zanabria is making waves in Mexico City
17 December 2013 by Editor
One year on, we talk to Texprint 2012 alumnus Israel Parra who was born in Mexico, trained in Scotland, and is now making waves back in his hometown Mexico City.
Israel’s highly distinctive design work is inspired by diverse influences – from manmade objects to nature finds, from brutalist architecture to his recollection of flowers - always altering conventional notions of what will work for fashion or interiors.
Multilingual, passionate and a highly focused textile designer, he says: “My design practice is driven by the combination of traditional silkscreen techniques and digital printing processes to ensure innovation and uniqueness.”
Do you work from home or studio? What inspires you?
I work from both at home and at a studio that I have started to build up very close to my home in Mexico City. I find inspiration in Mexico’s vibrant lifestyle as I cycle around the city with my camera and sketchbooks always on hand to document and record new inspirations.
I have been always drawn to nature and work both from life as well as from photographs to capture as much information as possible. Hence, my work is fused and digitally hand crafted to obtain best results.
What have been the key challenges?
Working on my own means everything is a challenge! From researching and exploring the creative process to developing a new collection, to then finding contacts, places to exhibit and sales points. Then of course organising and managing my accounts, social networks, making connections with national and international manufacturers etc etc.
However, as I lived in the UK and Europe for nearly 5 years, the most challenging thing has been returning to Mexico City. The entire metropolis has changed so dramatically that at the beginning I found myself immersed in a city I no longer recognized; but gradually I’ve been invited to participate in a broad range of opportunities and design platforms that are now blooming in Mexico City and feel settled here again.
What new projects have you been working on?
I have made contact with Mexican fashion companies such as Pineda Covalin http://www.pinedacovalin.com/_eng/ - whose design signature highlights Mexican culture and folklore, and received very good feedback on my latest project This City after being exhibiting at Cultura Colectiva (I’m now establishing sales points in Mexico City and possibly in San Diego, which is great).
Also I’ve worked with Richard Ward’s furniture design studio Wawa and Anne Tyrrell’s design consultancy, both based in London.
Again in Mexico I have exhibited at Zona MACO, one of Latin America’s most important platforms for Contemporary Art and Design, and have taken part Mexican Design competition Quorum 2013.
How important is your website and social media activity?
Digital media is critical as it helps me present my work to people around the world. Via my website I have been contacted by studios and clients - I know that if I don’t post or give updates then I won’t receive feedback or contacts from future clients.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently developing new skills, in particular, tailoring, as I want to learn more about using textiles on the human body, and I’m considering returning to the UK to take an MA degree in Fashion. With that in mind, I am starting to research for funding and scholarships as international tuition fees are so expensive!
In what ways was Texprint a help to you?
Texprint helped in so many different ways, helping me to see how I could develop my work, to evaluate myself and my ambitions, and, most importantly, to always challenge myself – and thanks to Texprint I exhibited at Indigo/Première Visionin Paris and made great contacts there which was invaluable.
Israel showing his work to buyers at Indigo, Paris, October 2012
What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?
I am always amused by how an idea evolves and it is then transformed into a physical object - an idea transformed into a drawing, then into a design, then into fabric for a fashion or interiors collection, to finally be exhibited - to follow this entire process is very rewarding. I am sometimes disappointed with myself if I make mistakes or miss details, however after each project is finished I find those mistakes have been key learning points for self-development, so I always look forward!
Below: cushions from Israel's Audubon Collection developed for a private client in Mexico City.
WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley
07 November 2013 by Editor
The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.
Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products". The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.
Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.
From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.
Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week. Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.
Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE
Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and in October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process.
In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.
WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.
Texprint at Intertextile Shanghai
28 October 2013 by Editor
October 21-24 saw Texprint exhibiting at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics sponsored by Messe Frankfurt (HK) with a stand located in the new Verve for Design section in Hall W1, the most prestigious international hall at this vast 17-hall show.
“For the first time, Texprint, the organisation promoting talented young textile designers, will introduce the Texprint awards to the Chinese market in the Verve for Design section.” Twist magazine, Sept 2013.
The work of the six Texprint 2013 prize winners - Cherica Haye, Signe Rand Ebbesen, Florence Angelica Colson, Taslima Sultana, Ffion Griffith and Kazusa Takamura - was prominently displayed with wall-mounted images and one or two examples of each of their work, creating much interest from the many visitors and buyers. The show was also an excellent opportunity for Texprint chairman, Barbara Kennington, and sponsorship director, Joanna Bowring, to make new contacts and assess the future potential for collaborations in China and elsewhere in Asia.
“It is most encouraging to see the desire for original design work growing in this region, with many Asian buyers recognising the advantages of buying unique designs and prepared to pay European prices. Texprint is most grateful to Messe Frankfurt (HK) for their continuing support and we look forward to building on our presence at Intertextile Shanghai next year,” said Joanna Bowring.
Among other exhibitors, Hall W1 also housed Texprint sponsors The Woolmark Company (with The Wool Lab), the UKFT British section of weavers - looking very smart with its Savile Row-inspired branding - and Liberty Art Fabrics.
The Woolmark Texprint Award Judging Process
26 September 2013 by
“Beautiful designs!” John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons, said as he looked at Texprint designer Alice Preston’s neon hand-printed designs. Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, at Roland Mouret both agreed as they continued to search for a winner of the third annual Woolmark Texprint Award.
Out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the 2013 Texprint programme, all of whom presented their work at Indigo / Première Vision in Paris September 17-19, 2013, the judges looked for a designer excelling in the inventive use of wool in textile design and using 60% or more Merino wool in their designs. Needless to say the three prize judges had a tough time deciding on Wednesday 18 September 2013, prior to the presentation that afternoon.
Signe Rand Ebbesen with Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company
The judges questioned the designers about the end product use and the production costs of their designs: vital knowledge for today’s textile designers. Analysing the designers’ work from both the fashion and interiors side was also a key factor in choosing the winning designer, as John said: “We started showing in interiors eight to 10 years ago and now it is 25% of our business. The interiors market is growing and becoming increasingly fashionable as fashion designers are looking at furnishings – it is a unique situation.”
The judges praised courses, noting the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins, for teaching designers about commercial imperative and the translation of textiles into garments.
After meeting with the Texprint designers and discussing their work in detail, the judges then met for a tête-à-tête to make the final decision. They highly commended weaver Cherica Haye and knit designer Phoebe Brown, both RCA graduates, for their innovative techniques and use of wool. Daliah Simble said: “I really liked Phoebe’s techniques of using plastics and plating in her knitted textiles.” Estelle Williams agreed: “Phoebe’s innovativeness is extremely important and in our role we are both constantly trying new fabrics.” The judges managed to come to a unanimous decision choosing RCA graduate Signe Rand Ebbesen as the winner out of the 24 shortlisted designers.
Phoebe Brown shows her work to the judges
Prize presenter Maurizio Galante, member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and Woolmark’s Peter Ackroydpresented Signe her award in front of an eager audience. The prize includes £1,000 in prize money and also extensive training on the benefits and uses of wool through the nearest Woolmark International office.
John said the judges selected Signe because of her superb use of texture, her distinctive style and her understanding of the benefits of this natural sustainable fibre which she used to bring her work to life.
© Signe Rand Ebbesen
John commented: “Some of the textures were beautiful and she has also understood the commercial side to her work - she can go far with it.” Estelle agreed: “She has thought about the commerciality of her work which is really important shown by her ability to work to a brief.” Daliah added: “We both loved Signe’s innovative techniques which we at Roland Mouret look for. We would love some of those fabrics at Roland Mouret.
Barbara Kennington, chairman of Texprint, on hearing of the decision said: “We all greatly admire Signe’s work, this award is completely appropriate for her and such fantastic news.”
Roozbeh Ghanadi shows his work to the judges
Katy Birchall shows her work to the judges
Ffion Griffith shows her work to the judges
British Textiles in Action
20 September 2013 by Editor
Textiles glitterati gathered at the British Embassy Paris on 17th September for a high profile reception hosted by UK Trade & Investment in partnership with UKFT and with thanks to The Woolmark Company and The Campaign For Wool. HRH Prince Charles gave a specially recorded speech in support of the evening and the British textile industry and wool.
Texprint 2013 designers Taslima Sultana, Katy Birchall, Cherica Haye, Ffion Griffith, Luise Martin, and Gillian Louise Murphy were there, mingling with many of the UK and International textile industry’s top players.
Kirsty Carey, MD of Liberty Design, with Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint creative director
Guests at the reception, Anne Tyrrell MBE centre
The Texprint Woolmark Award: Meet the Judges
13 September 2013 by
The Woolmark Company and Texprint are very pleased that two leaders of the British design industry are collaborating to select the Woolmark Texprint Award winner.
Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, both of Roland Mouret, join John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons, on 18 September 2013 to select one prize winner excelling in the usage of wool and other natural fibres from among the 24 Texprint designers showcasing at Indigo, Première Vision.
For over a decade, the luxury fashion house Roland Mouret has been synonymous with covetable womenswear and iconic garments such as the Galaxy, Titanium and Moon dresses. A true style influencer, the designer Roland Mouret has changed the way pattern cutting is looked at. Focusing on structure and silhouette, Mouret flatters the female form with figure-hugging, sexy dresses which have adorned the likes of Victoria Beckham, Kate Middleton and Carey Mulligan and the house is continually expanding its collections. In 2012 the Roland Mouret brand presented its first debut bridal collection The White Collection and also unveiled its first ever shoe collection that launched in autumn/winter 2012/13. Daliah, head of sourcing & production at Roland Mouret has over 20 years’ experience in the fashion sector, and Estelle’s role as collection development manager include overseeing the womenswear collections’ product development team from design concept to the pre-production stages. Estelle also works directly with the creative director in developing the collections which involves selecting fabric and trims sourcing.
Luxury brands look to mills like Abraham Moon & Sons to source and produce their fabric. Established in 1837, Abraham Moon founded his namesake company in Guiseley, England. The country’s only vertically integrated mill, the unique Yorkshire-based site currently houses blending, carding, dyeing, finishing, spinning and weaving processes. Focusing on natural fibres such as alpaca, cashmere, linen, mohair, silk and wool, the mill produces a wide variety of fabrics destined for fashion and interior use from high street to haute couture. Specialising in tweed wool fashions,the high-quality wool is imported from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Moon’s fabrics stand for heritage, high quality and luxury and so Moon counts international fashion names such as Burberry, Chanel and Ralph Lauren among its customers. John Walsh became the managing director in 1989 as the fourth generation of his family to run the company; his great-grandfather Charles Walsh bought the mill in 1920 from the Moon family.
John Walsh; images from heritage collection 2008
Both the design team at Roland Mouret and John Walsh are firm believers in the benefits that wool offers. Estelle says: “Wool provides both the structure and flexibility which are core features in Roland’s collections. It also has an excellent absorption of dye, is durable and sustainable. Wool is a win-win from both an aesthetic and performance point of view.” The Roland Mouret womenswear collections use a substantial amount of wool depending on the season ranging from 35% in the spring/summer collections to 65% for autumn/winter. John was chairman of the British Wool Textile Export Corporation for five years and says: “We have a generation who did not grow up with the Woolmark and the consistent advertising behind it which re-enforced the message explaining the unique qualities of wool. Attitudes are changing however and consumers are once again appreciating that wool and other natural fibres have not only inherently better qualities but also make a better ecological and sustainable choice. Well-made, great quality timeless classics are an important part of today's wardrobe.”
The luxury fashion house Roland Mouret is a firm supporter of new design talent: Chloe Hamblin - winner of the Texprint 2011 Colour Award - is now working as a print and surface designer with the company having first made contact with the designer at the Texprint Village at Indigo/Première Vision in September 2011. “Wool should be a natural choice for new designers primarily because it is a very versatile yarn whether you are using it in knitwear, jersey or woven fabric,” Daliah says.
Roland Mouret autumn/winter 2014 collection
The importance of UK-based skills and promoting made-in-Britain luxury is enthusiastically encouraged by the judges: Daliah was responsible for moving over half of the company’s production back to the UK. John adds: “As the appreciation for British quality and design in textiles results in the re-emergence of manufacturing the next generation will find new opportunities for their talents. Now is the time to seize the initiative and make sure we invest in the education and training of those who will take our industry forward.”
All three judges will be looking for innovative designs when judging the Woolmark Texprint prize. Estelle says: “Roland embraces the motto ‘think outside of the box’. This will be a strong influence in the selection process as Roland loves the unconventional.” John will be looking for “a fusion of originality with commerciality”.
Texprint Paris special prize presenter 2013: Maurizio Galante
09 September 2013 by
Maurizio Galante Haute Couture celebrates a body of work that covers over 25 years of the Paris-based Italian couturier’s career.
The Texprint team are extremely excited to welcome Maurizio as this year’s Texprint Award prize presenter, where on the 18 September 2013 at 3.30pm, he will bepresenting the Texprint Awards for Body, Colour, Pattern and Space as well as the Woolmark Texprint Award to the winning Texprint designers at Indigo, Première Vision Pluriel.
Haute Couture collection 2013; Maurizio Galante
The Italian-born, Paris-based couturier originally studied architecture at Rome university and fashion at the Accademia di Costume e Moda in Romebefore pursuing a career in fashion. Using his in-depth architectural knowledge to create beautiful sculptural garments, favoured by international clients such as Zaha Hadid, Maurizio presented his first ready-to-wear collection in 1986. In 1992 Maurizio was invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture under his own label and 16 years later Maurizio, aged 30, became the youngest permanent member ever of the highly prestigious organisation. In 2009 he was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters by the French Minister of Culture in recognition of his contribution to the French fashion industry.
Maurizio’s design ethos embraces traditional craftsmanship creating exquisite and impeccable haute couture that is shown at international couture weeks and housed in global fashion museums. Maurizio has also turned his hand to a wide range of products from stamps and to interior design, all of which exhibit his recognisable ‘seamless’ signature style; his lighting and furniture designs are regularly shown at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy.
In 2003 he founded Interware, a design and consultancy service in partnership with trend forecaster and designer Tal Lancman. In January 2013 Maurizio Galante opened his new atelier-showroom in Paris, located near Opera Bastile, showcasing his Haute Couture collections as well as his and Tal Lancman’s authentic creations alongside exclusive limited edition pieces.
Interware; Tal Lancman and Maurizio Galante
The Texprint Awards celebrate textile innovation which Maurizio sees as vital, not only for himself but for the highly creative industry of haute couture as a whole: “Haute couture is research in its essence. It is, in my opinion, fashion's research laboratory. The use of innovative new fabrics and materials is crucial to the result. A couturier is a bit like a great chef; the more the ingredients of the recipe are innovative, novel, and of excellent quality, the more exceptional the dish will be.”
Texprint selects and mentors graduate designers entering the creative industries. Maurizio is a keen supporter of new design talent having introduced fashion designer Rabih Kayrouz to the Chambre and Maurizio strongly believes in their importance saying: “Fashion is a work towards the future.”
Maurizio is keen to impart his advice to the Texprint designers, as he says: “Being aware of what's happening around us I think is the most important advice that I received and in turn would love to share with the younger generation of designers. Be informed not only about the evolution of fashion, but in general on the evolution of the costume, and the needs of the market and clientele. Never forget the work of a great balancing act, which must be achieved in realising products, without ever being too far ahead or too far back.”
Haute Couture collection 2013
Meet the judges: womenswear designer and consultant Madeleine Press
05 September 2013 by
Texprint’s selection process is dependent on the generosity of industry members who take a day out of their work schedules to give professional guidance to the new designers under scrutiny for a coveted place on the mentoring programme. The same is true of the prize judges who spend an intense afternoon reviewing the work and interviewing the 24 designers who are in line to receive one of Texprint’s four awards for Body, Space, Colour and Pattern. Texprint was delighted that womenswear designer and consultant Madeleine Press was able to join the prize judging panel this year.
“Texprint is a great launch pad for new designers as they emerge from college - this time is both daunting and exciting for them. They will meet a broad selection of industry professionals who will view and talk honestly with them about their work. It is a great opportunity to have that experience before they go into the workplace and have to explain themselves,” says Madeleine. “It gives them a competitive edge, to not only compare themselves against their peers at college, but with the cream of the crop. The selected designers also have the opportunity to show at Indigo / Première Vision - to have that experience is amazing.”
Madeleine reviewing the designers' work
Madeleine brought to the judging process her commercial nous and an expert eye: known as a versatile womenswear designer with a deep technical understanding, she has also been regularly sought after as a knitwear specialist. Trained in Fashion Design with a print specialism at Ravensbourne, Madeleine has created women’s ready-to-wear collections, outerwear and denim lines, but is actually completely self-taught in knit design. “I spent an enormous amount of time in factories to learn what I needed to know. I come at it thinking, ‘what techniques can I use to create the garment I want?’ rather than just making a garment with two arms.”
On leaving college, she says: “The first bit of mass manufacturing I did was for an Elle reader offer, I had to source and arrange production of 500 skirts. I quickly became used to working on a big scale.”
Since then, Madeleine has had a wholesale brand, Press & Bastyan, which became a retail chain, and then her own eponymous womenswear designer brand, Madeleine Press that was a regular exhibitor at London, Paris and New York Fashion Weeks. She has worked as a consultant designer for brands from the UK to Japan, including John Smedley, Lamberto Losani, Daks, Onward and Sazaby League.
She brought to the judging panel a very clear view on the practicalities of textile design: “Whatever the textile is, whether for furnishing or clothing, it has an end use. In college you are free to design without commercial restraint, which I think is great. When you are conceptualising something and starting on a project you should be free,” she explains. “Then it is important to understand how to channel those ideas into a product that is right for its end use - what it’s going to look like once it’s in a garment or as a piece of furnishing. If it’s in a piece of furnishing you have even greater longevity to think about than fast fashion or designer product.”
As a knitwear designer, she considers the placement of stitch, seams and colour in the garment to be of paramount importance and something she considered when judging. “You have to think about how it will look wrapped around the body. I was looking for people who had an awareness of that,” she says. “In the commercial world if you have an understanding of that to start with you will have a heads-up over someone else. I’ve been running my own businesses for 20 years and every penny I’ve spent on my own business has to turn to profit. In the commercial world everything has to work.”
What advice did you receive when you were starting in business that you would like pass on? “The main thing I would share is something my parents told me: do everything with your eyes wide open, don’t narrow your options too quickly. Do something that scares you, as well. You have to allow yourself to take risks and jump in. And I think you need to do everything with a smile and say ‘thank you’.”
Thank you Madeleine!
The 2013 judges with all the designers
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.
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
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!
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.
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.”
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.”