FEATURES: Champions Of Texprint

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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. 

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), business (51), sponsors (26), collaboration (9), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6), internships (1)

Texprint London 2014: platform for new textile design talent

14 July 2014 by Roger Tredre

Texprint London: 24 selected designers with judges

We look back on a memorable three days in London this July, when 24 young designers – the best of a new generation educated in the UK – attended the Texprint preview presentation in London.

After the rigorous interviews and the methodical sifting through over 200 portfolios and CVs, just 24 designers are selected. They have come from all over the globe but they were all educated in the UK and recently graduated from BA and MA programmes at colleges across the country. Weavers, knitters, printers and embroiderers – brought together for three days in London to show their work to the textile design industry.

Entrance display by Texprint 2011 alumna Emma J Shipley

The London preview presentation (July 9–10) is an important part of the process that climaxes in Paris in September at Premiere Vision, where all 24 designers show – and sell – their work to industry visitors at Indigo, the creative textile and surface design show-within-a show at PV. The excitement of the young designers in London was infectious. "I can't believe I'm here!" said Frieda Peppercorn, a designer who studied at Winchester College and whose witty prints inspired by Mrs Beeton were quick to catch the eye.

In London, the judges gathered the day before the presentation (July 8) to deliberate over the shortlist for prizes (the winners are announced in Paris). While the judges deliberated, the designers were on standby for further questioning. In London they also received their first exposure to Texprint sponsors, the press and potential employers and were given practical mentoring to prepare them for the next step of their careers. "It's fantastically helpful," said Jessica Hymas, a knit designer who recently left the Royal College of Art. "We've learned a lot about sampling and how to charge for samples."

On the afternoon of July 8th, the five judges arrived at Chelsea for four hours of intensive viewing and discussion. They represented a broad spread of expertise from across the industry, including Sarah Campbell of legendary textile design partnership Collier Campbell; Eifion Griffiths, CEO of highly regarded Welsh wool products company Melin Tregwynt; Sue Roberts, Design Director Home at leading UK department store group House of Fraser; Henry Graham, Chief Creative Officer of innovative London retailer Wolf & Badger; and Jill Chatwood, Design Director at fast-growing Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica.

Judge Sarah Campbell examines the work of Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira

For these judges, there was an instinctive reaction to the work on display, but also a more considered response to consider and review, both individually and collectively. Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint Creative Director, urged them not to overlook the supplementary work: "It's often in the sketchbook that you get to know the real person."

Judge Henry Graham reveiws the work of designer Federica Tedeschi

The designers were called into the room for thorough questioning and scrutiny. They were invited to leave again. Names were tossed back and forth across the table. Excellence was celebrated, but there was a recurring complaint: Why did so many of the designers obsess about fashion? Why didn't they realise the huge potential of the interiors sector? The judges went back to the stands to review, and review again, the work. Slowly but steadily, a shortlist emerged. Names were read out and read out again. A tweak here, a plea there, a reshuffle – and another reshuffle. The debate always driven by an urgent, passionate desire from all involved that the right names should make the shortlist.

But the real pleasure of Texprint London is that everyone is a winner – because everyone is on the Eurostar to Paris in September. Hilary Scarlett, a leading textile and fashion trends consultant who regularly visits Texprint, had no doubt the designers will be well received in Paris: "The quality of work this year is stunning, really diverse, with sophisticated thought processes." Anne Smith, Dean of Fashion at Central Saint Martins, agreed: "It's one of the best years in a long time."

Designers Jonny Wadland (left image) and Ailis Dewar show their work to visitors

The judges were full of praise too. Sue Roberts of House of Fraser noted: "There are so many boundaries and restrictions in retail. It's great to see work with no boundaries." Sarah Campbell said the process of judging had been "very intense" and urged the designers to think more broadly about their work, particularly about its potential for interiors.

Judges Eifion Griffiths and Sue Roberts reviewing portfolio work

Some of the big guns of the industry showed up bright and early the next day to emphasise their interest. Karen Peacock, Head of Design at Marks & Spencer, was an early arrival. "For us, it's about keeping abreast of the talent," she said. "I consider Texprint to offer the cream of the crop in textiles and print. Not only is the standard very high but the students are also very good about talking about their work."

Texprint sponsors, such as John Snowdon, Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Weavers, agreed: "Our aim is to find the best. We always find them at Texprint." Roll on Paris!

CLICK HERE for Press Release: Texprint special prizes: the shortlist of nominees announced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short listed designers with the judges: from left; Tali Furman, Charlotte Beevor, Jane Han Zhang, Georgia Fisher, Kaila Cox, judge Jill Chatwood, judge Eifion Griffiths, judge Sue Roberts, Jonny Wadland, judge Sarah Campbell, judge Henry Graham, Federica Tedeschi, Jessica Hymas, Beth Humes

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), sponsors (26), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6)

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.

Article tags: weave (22), home & interiors (28), general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6)

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.

Article tags: home & interiors (28), general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6)

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!

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint london (18), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6)

Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Sarah Campbell

28 May 2014 by Roger Tredre

We talk to Texprint judge and leading British textile designer Sarah Campbell, best known for her 50-year collaboration with her sister as part of the original Collier Campbell.

Sarah Campbell was one half of the influential textile design partnership Collier Campbell with her sister, Susan Collier. Their exceptional client list since the 1970s included everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Habitat and Liberty. Fifty years of their work was celebrated in an exhibition at London's Royal National Theatre, 2011, which opened just after the shock of Susan’s early death from cancer. In 2012, a beautifully produced book, The Collier Campbell Archive, 50 years of Passion in Pattern, celebrated their achievements.

So now there's just Campbell, working independently under her own name, still doing what she loves best – working with gouache paint, drawing and painting directly onto paper to the scale of the finished design. Then she traces and paints the repeats herself. Painting by hand, she believes, has an energy and integrity that makes it compelling and special – and guarantees it an important role in textile creativity, even in the digital age.

Current clients include West Elm, the US homeware company. Now Texprint is honoured to welcome Sarah Campbell as a judge for the first time. We enjoyed speaking to her at her studio in Gipsy Hill, south-east London. She has an infectious chuckle, a stack of great memories and interesting thoughts on the creative process.

Are you excited about judging?

I'm always excited about new things but I'm always apprehensive. I love a challenge and welcome new ways of looking at things. I fear I will find it very difficult indeed because there'll be an immediate response with what I like that will be genuine and instinctive but, unfortunately, may not be entirely helpful. So then I will need a response which is to do with: where has this come from, what it's doing, what it's about, what are the designer's intentions, is it fulfilling a brief and does it succeed? I don't know that I'm going to be good at this – I hope so!

Have you done any teaching yourself?

I run workshops and give talks now and then and I very directly support the next generation by going into a local secondary school every week – I work with only a very few students on the BTech course, not necessarily ones who will end up as textile designers.

That gives me an insight into what ordinary young people are dealing with on a daily basis, which is a lot of stuff... As a designer it's very helpful for me to see what's going on. So It's as much for me as for them.

Like everyone, I have my own prejudices about everything so it's very helpful to have those knocked about a bit. And I think it's quite helpful for them to have attention from someone with a very different point of view, different experiences. 

How did you start out professionally?

The way I got into textile design at all is that I went to help my older sister Susan. I was always good at drawing, and I took all that for granted. See that painting over there of a mackerel? I did that when I was eight. My dad was saying, try and get those shiny scales. When I look at my nature book, also from around that time, I realise I've hardly changed – in some of my interests at least!

So I was definitely in the way of drawing but I wasn't planning to be an 'artist'. I thought I was on the way to Cambridge to study anthropology. But from helping Susan, I went to Chelsea School of Art in 1964 and did Fine Art painting. They said after the first year, 'You finish all your paintings too quickly. You should go and be a designer.' Clearly I wasn't wracked enough!... Actually, it was a great education. A good art school education is one of the best because - there's so much you can learn and experience. And I had great teachers – it was a tremendous time, a wonderful and expansive time. I expect I took it for granted then, but I see it now.

When I left college in 1969 I continued working with Susan. I had no textile design education so I didn't have any prejudices as to what a textile designer was. And I had the sort of mind that likes to think about how to make a repeat work. I was blessed because I loved the painting and I liked the nature of repeat. The way I learned about repeat was redrawing tiny scraps that Blair Pride [design producer at Liberty of London Prints in the 1960s] would give us, saying, we need that painting up in a new repeat. I loved it. I loved thinking about the ladies who had done those drawings in the first place. It was a very modest way of learning – we were jobbing designers.

We were protected at Liberty; they wanted the best cloth, the best print, the best colour and product. They weren't interested in the cheapest or the lowest common denominator. It was a commercial venture where standards really meant something. It was a wonderful opportunity. There were many battles of course – such as over our Cottage Garden print. The salesman didn't like it, and Susan bet him that it would sell more than the William Morris. And it did! It was a struggle to get them to do it because it was so completely different. It was in a new language – a full floral painted as a natural profusion without apparent structure.

To what extent do you draw on your own archive?

My nature is to do the next thing. That's the nature of a designer. We're there to have antennae and to feel what's coming in the air and to redraw it. I can't deny my history and the fact that I've done a thousand ikats or a thousand checks. And of course they are in my head and they come back out again, but they come out differently. It's fascinating that they do. That must be the passage of time. But I focus on what I'm looking at now, what I'm feeling now, what I'm thinking now, what my brief is now.

Do you find you've sub-consciously copied yourself?

It doesn't really matter. I do do things that are very familiar and I think I must have done something like that before. And I think I revisit my themes. I have themes that I'm very interested in, but I don't mind, it's all within me, it's not like I'm stealing from another person. For example, one of the themes I love is trying to represent a landscape on cloth. In other words, to make a thing that seems to have real depth on a two-dimensional surface. I love the experiments around that. I also love the theme of the free dot. And I like the challenge of making two colours do a surprising amount of work.

You once called the famous Collier Campbell Cote d'Azur print 'hardworking'. What did you mean by that?

Designs come out of me and I make them. They go off to be printed and then they have to go out into the world and they have to do their job. And if it's a good design and people like it, they buy it and it becomes what I call hardworking. I meet people who say they had this or that for years, and they love it. And I think great – it did the job. I don't know anything about the people but that design spoke to them and it spoke to them for a long time. That gives me enormous pleasure. Cote d'Azur must have been a very telling piece of work, although I often wonder why. I guess it was a narrative without being pedantic or claustrophobic – the story was clear and it had both atmosphere and space.

You have never designed digitally and that has been challenging for you in terms of meeting client demands in the past. But an appreciation of working by hand appears to be surging back, doesn't it?

It's been quite a difficult marriage. When there are two camps, it's always hard to see each other's value. I went to Clerkenwell [Design Week] recently to Design Factory and saw Benchmark: and Sean [Sutcliffe] was in heaven because people had responded so well to his new pieces - the bringing together of the hand-hewn and the computer aided. Marvellous!

There was quite a long time in our careers when hand-painting design was absolutely the end of the world and nobody wanted it. I was antedeluvian, a dinosaur. Coming after minimalism [in the 1990s], which wanted neither colour nor pattern, the attitude became, we can do it all online on the computer and we want 30,000 designs a day. There's still plenty of that – people do thousands of designs, I don't know what the hell for! That method and that amount can make design simply a disposable commodity.

When did the tide turn?

I think since my life, working and otherwise, changed so dramatically in 2011, I'm much more in touch with it. I've had to learn [to appreciate] for myself that I'm valuable. I used to take it all for granted. I do have an unusual skill and I'm very lucky to have it. And if I value it well enough, other people will.

 

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), texprint 2014 (7), judges 2014 (6)

Internship Diary: Florence Angelica Colson at Lululemon Athletica

10 May 2014 by Editor

Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit designed by Florence Angelica Colson

Selected in 2013 by Deanne Schweitzer, SVP of Design and Creation at yoga-inspired brand Lululemon Athletica, as one of two winners of the prestigious Lululemon Texprint Award, we catch up with print designer Florence Angelica Colson and follow her internship diary (weaver Cherica Haye was the joint winner of this award).

Unfortunately due to new visa rules Flo and Cherica were unable to work in Vancouver for the 3 months originally planned.  Instead Lululemon took the creative initiative and invited the designers to Vancouver for non-working trips to find out more about the company ethos and working practices, took them to New York and Paris on inspiration trips, then set them projects to work on back in England.

Florence with Deanne Schweitzer (second left) and Lululemon design team at Indigo 2013

 

New York – 12 January 2014

The internship started with me being told on a Monday that I would be leaving for New York on the Saturday - this was crazy and so exciting! In New York I met up with Cassandra Sze (vision line lead) and Spencer Wyatt (colour designer); we shopped the city looking for new styling and colour inspiration, including visiting Soho and the new Dover Street Market store.

Joined a design meeting hosted by Cass and Spencer in the new Brooklyn store - feedback from the product users is invaluable so Lulu regularly hosts these in-store sessions.  The company also feels it’s important to ‘sweat in the community’, to experience what’s going on in terms of sports and fitness, so while in NY we took part in a few yoga and spinning classes!

While I was in New York, Cherica met up with the Lulu team in Paris to work Premiere Vision and Indigo, sourcing new fabrics and prints.

 

Vancouver (home of Lululemon headquarters) – 18 January 2014

On to Vancouver to join a Lululemon induction week with around 25 other newbies enrolling in jobs across the company.  A great opportunity to learn more about the company, what they believe in and what they still want to achieve - having and achieving goals is monumental within Lulu!

Also to be briefed by the Vision Pod team (each section of product development at Lulu is called a ‘pod’) who research the visionary colours, graphics and styling before giving them to the various design pods to be actioned.

“I was asked to be as creative as I wanted and not to worry about restrictions or the typical Lulu way of designing, but do what I liked and what I would wear. This was a great chance to experiment so I didn’t always stick to my usual design handwriting.

Worked on updating the Lululemon Manifesto – the emotive quotes, facts and opinions put together by the founder of Lululemon – phrases such as: do one thing a day that scares you, breathe deeply, creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment, friends are more important than money!I created little illustrations, pattern-filled lettering, big painterly lettering and a number of other ideas - all quite challenging as so graphics based, but it was cool and fun too!

Then was asked to create prints suitable for ‘tights’ – meaning running, yoga or other fitness leggings. I enjoyed this the most as of course print and pattern are my design passions! Although not all of the designs were my classic style, I stayed true to my design process and spent a lot of time generating work by hand, either drawing, painting or mark-making, and then manipulating and developing using Photoshop.

The final part of the brief was to look at new ways of adding reflective elements to product pieces. I found this really interesting and something I had never considered before.  I am now obsessed - I run a lot and want to be covered in cool reflective pieces!

Inspiration board for reflective ideas

 

 

London – 1 February 2014

Back in London we met with Deanne Schweitzer and shopped all the great London haunts for the spring/summer 2015 inspiration report we were due to present to the Lulu team back in Vancouver.

“I find inspiration in everything. I love fashion - I’m pretty obsessed by it if I am honest! I spend hours trawling through fashion magazines and looking at blogs, Instagram and Pinterest - following designers, models, artists, architects, galleries, magazines, shops, as well as friends - so I really get a broad view of what’s going on and what’s inspiring others! At the moment I’m loving spacial design and room set-ups, and I’m head over heels for Celine. I’ve just booked to go to the Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate Modern and I’m so excited as I think it will be really influential!”

 

London – 1 April 2014

Lululemon’s first UK store (Covent garden) opened in April, and for a week Cherica and I worked in the store for three hours a day as shadowing educators (everyone at Lulu has to work a number of store shifts whether you are a designer, IT technician or anything else!). We were also invited to the opening party. Lululemon'snew CEO, Laurent Potdevin, was there, plus the London ambassadors, Vancouver team, store staff, press and VIPs – it was amazing to be involved.

“My project was completed working from home (at my mother’s kitchen table which she kindly allowed me to take over for the duration!). I always start by drawing, painting or mark-making by hand, taking this as far as I can before scanning and manipulating.

To keep in touch with Vancouver, I would exchange emails with Cass a few times a week plus have a weekly Skype update conversation.”

 

 

Vancouver – 5 April 2014

The final week in Vancouver presenting our projects and a trend report of our London finds (plus doing some yoga and circuit classes of course!) – and thinking about what we’d learnt and achieved.

“I know I would have learnt so much more if I’d been able to work with the team every day, but even so the experience was amazing, and by taking me out of my comfort zone helped develop my design knowledge. Designing for the sports market is more complex than I realised - everything has to be technical, and functional, and appealing to the eye.

Prior to the internship I worked on a freelance project, designing the 2014 Specialized-LululemonWomen’s Professional Cycling Team kit using intricately drawn details, baroque and rococo shapes, pearls, jewels and florals in black and white. This was quick turnaround project, and challenging, as the prints all had to be engineered to fit the garment pieces. I’ve never had to think about a product in so much detail before – it was a great exercise in balancing hand craft and time management!”

Flo wearing the Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit she designed!

 

Future thoughts?“My dream is to collaborate with a fashion designer, even to learn to cut patterns myself so I can start my own fashion company where beautiful prints and garments would combine!

In conclusion, Flo says: “Texprint has been invaluable, I could not be more grateful. Through Texprint I exhibited and sold under my own name at Indigo; had my designs promoted by Surface View; interned in Italy; took part in the ComON creativity week, and was selected to visit the Mare di Moda show in Cannes – all experiences I would never have experienced so soon out of university without Texprint’s guidance and financial support. People still email me after viewing my online Texprint profile.

Winning one of the places on the Lululemon Texprint Award was amazing, it enabled me to travel to Canada and New York and learn so much more about the industry.  Plus I have learnt so much from the Lululemon team, building up wonderful relationships both in and out of the internship that I really hope will continue!”

Article tags: print (30), general (50), champions of texprint (41), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13)

Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement

28 April 2014 by Editor

Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, with alumna Ffion Griffith

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

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint 2013 (21)

Texprint starts the year on a high: new prize collaboration with print innovator Miroglio Textile

14 February 2014 by Editor

With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint has developed a new opportunity with a key industry partner to help the best British-trained graduates reach their potential.

New Miroglio Texprint Award to further print innovation

Digital print specialist Miroglio Textile (MT) joins with Texprint as a Major Sponsor of the charity to found a new internship prize initiated by Elena Miroglio, vice president of the Miroglio Group, and commercial director Chiaretto Calo.

“Sponsoring the Texprint project takes on a great significance for us in terms of supporting the creative arts. Over the years Miroglio Textile has backed creative talent through a series of ventures. We believe in education and we are on a constant quest of finding new creative processes to bring to the company,” explains Elena Miroglio.

The winner of the internship will be chosen from among Texprint’s 2014 selected designers and, as well as a cash prize, will have the opportunity to go to the company’s headquarters in Piedmont, Italy, and develop his or her work in mass production; present his or her designs to MT’s customers and gain experience and exposure to the marketplace. Miroglio continues: “With the Texprint project we want to enhance even further our vision about product creation. We want our products to be original, to tell stories and to be able to reach our customers’ hearts. And to achieve this important goal we give the designers the chance to work with the latest digital technology where MT is a leader.”

Miroglio Textile is a long-time supporter of Texprint. And the company’s senior print designer Louise Somers took part in the programme in 2008. “There is something about the taste and a definite point of difference with UK-trained designers,” says Somers. “Texprint’s meticulous selection process determines the best and most creative emerging designers ready to enter industry. The work speaks for itself; it’s of a really high standard.”

"The new award from Miroglio represents an exciting development for the Texprint programme. After the selection and mentoring of the talented young graduates through Texprint, for them to have the opportunity for direct experience with industry is an invaluable asset that contributes enormously to their career prospects, and could even be seen as completing the vital design education process. It is particularly gratifying that one of our existing and long-term supporters, Miroglio, has the vision to take this step and increase its involvement with Texprint in this positive way."

 

Article tags: print (30), general (50), champions of texprint (41), indigo paris (10), texprint 2014 (7)

Review of the year - Texprint 2013: Trained in Britain

31 December 2013 by Editor

Texprint 2013 designers with management team at Texprint London

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.

Barbara Kennington

Chairman

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), woolmark (19), texprint london (18), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), indigo (12), judges 2013 (13), shanghai (3), como (3), indigo paris (10)

ComON Creativity Week and industry Internships

11 November 2013 by Editor

Texprint’s ongoing relationship with the ComON Creativity Week and the prestigious Italian textile mills based in and around Como develops year-on-year. These companies have long understood the vital importance of re-investing in their cultural heritage by welcoming creative young textile designers to form part of their future.

Texprint designers with Margherita Rosina and Francina Chiara of the Antonio Ratti Foundation / Designers from left: Roozbeh Ghanadi, Kazusa Takamura, Ffion Griffith, Cherica Haye, Florence Colson and Minnan Hui

The Como textile industry is globally renowned for creating the highest quality printed silks, fine cottons and luxury weaves for the international luxury market, and more recently for the high street. Their comprehensive archives provide a rich source of historical reference and future inspiration.

More than ever supporting graduate designers through properly structured internships is invaluable in helping them fast track their experience and commercial understanding, and October 2013 saw 6 Texprint weave and print designers, selected by Marco Taiana of Tessitura Taiana Virgilio SpA and the manager of the ComON event, and invited to work 7-week internships in Como.  The Texprint designers were among 15 textile designers selected from all over Europe, also invited to participate in the invaluable ComON programme of industry visits and creative challenges.

Included in the programme were visits to the Giorgio Armani headquarters in Milan, and to the Canepa and Antonio Ratti archives at their respective company headquarters.

Texprint designers at the Antonio Ratti Foundation in Como with archive manager Francina Chiara 

 Left: Ffion Griffith at the Canepa Textile Archive / Right: Designers with Francina Chiara at the Antonio Ratti Foundation Archive

Central to the ComON week was the 2-day seminar lead by the inspirational David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine, with support from Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre.  David’s keynote speech, presented at the Como Chamber of Commerce, was entitled Morality in the Pursuit of Consumerism and challenged each young designer to think about what Made-In meant to them.  The selected Made-In presentations were then presented at a gala at the Villa d'Este to the Italian industry and Trade commissioners based in Milan from Japan, USA and France.

Peter Ring-Lefevre, invited tutor for the Made In seminar, mentoring the designers

Another highlight of the Villa d'Este gala event was the special invitation extended to Emma J Shipley (Texprint 2011) to tell the story of her highly successful two-year career establishing her eponymous accessories company. 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. Earlier this November Emma won the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award at The WGSN Global Fashion Awards.

Left: David Shah with Emma J Shipley / Right: Michele Vigano, head of family-owned business Seterie Argenti SpA, with Florence Colson at the launch of the Instacomon graphic competition at Mitchum store Como

Three Texprint designers – Florence Angelica Colson, Minnan Hui and Roozbeh Ghanadi - were also selected by the Mare di Moda committee to attend the Mare di Moda Resort Fabric Fair in Cannes early November.

Confindustria Como/ComON and Marzotto Group/Ratti SpA are valued sponsors of Texprint. 

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), como (3)

The Woolmark Texprint Award Judging Process

26 September 2013 by

Winner Signe Rand Ebbessen shows her work to the judges

“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

Article tags: weave (22), general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), woolmark (19), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13), indigo paris (10)

Texprint special prize winners announced at Indigo

20 September 2013 by

Signe Rand Ebbesen, Kazusa Takamura, Florence Colson, Ffion Griffith, Taslima Sultana and Cherica Haye with Maurizio Galante

Couturier Maurizio Galante presented this year's Texprint awards for design excellence to four British-trained new graduates. The six prize winners were announced at the Texprint prize ceremony, held in the Texprint area of Indigo, Première Vision Pluriel, on September 18, 2013 at 3.30pm. 

The winners for the Body, Space, Pattern and Colour prizes received £1,000, sponsored by Pantone, Liberty Art Fabrics and The Clothworkers’ Foundation. Three out of the four special winners are weave designers – working in a diverse range of patterns, fibres and textures, from traditional Welsh blanket weaves to high-tech wipe-down fabrics suitable for automotive upholstery.  They were chosen in London in July by a panel of leading creatives and influencers in fashion and design - journalist Tamsin Blanchard; designer Madeleine Press; Luigi Turconi from luxury silk printer Ratti; Emma Kidd, from the Selfridges creative team; and SVP creation at Lululemon Athletica Deanne Schweitzer. Plus Deanne selected the winner of the second annual Texprint Lululemon prize, the winner of which joins the activewear company on a three-month paid placement at its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, plus a £1,000 prize.

At Indigo, one prize winner of the Woolmark Texprint Award was chosen by John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons; Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, at Roland Mouret, the winner of which receives £1,000 in prize money and extensive training on the benefits and uses of wool through the nearest Woolmark International office.

Body - Kasuza Takamura, a Chelsea College of Art & Design graduate wins the Texprint Body Award. Kasuza uses photography to allow others to see the world through her eyes and her designs are inspired by living in an unfamiliar land; her work captures a mood of isolation, alienation and acceptance. Her print designs were unanimously praised by the judges. Designer Madeleine Press talked about the “energy behind her work, she has thought about how something will look on a garment, and on the body, there is a really nice concept and energy behind it” and said: “her subtle use of colour is very sophisticated which I could see translating into the market straight away”. Tamsin Blanchard said that Kasuza’s design concept is captured beautifully in extremely evocative designs. 

Buyers talking with Kazusa Takamura at Indigo

Space - Ffion Griffith, a Chelsea College of Art & Design graduate was chosen as winner of the Texprint Space Award. A weave graduate designer, Ffion is keen to preserve and reinterpret increasingly rare Welsh weaving skills and techniques. Using merino wool for its timeless qualities, Ffion creates high-quality interior products that are designed to become heirlooms. The judges praised her for her modern take on traditional craft. “The way she has modernised Welsh heritage is really cool, she has produced a professional product that could go across a wide range of surfaces,” said Deanne. While Madeleine added: “You can see it in a home, it’s executed well and people will love it.”

© Ffion Griffith

Colour - Taslima Sultana, a Central St Martins graduate wins the Texprint Colour Award. Her woven collection explores how living organisms use pattern, colour and texture in order to survive, protect and attract and she has used her research to create a vibrant textural collection of fabric. She was praised by Tamsin Blanchard for her “incredibly rich and vibrant designs” and how “she looks like somebody in the industry in the way she understands how fabric is used and draped, she has a great energy to her work”. Madeleine Press stated that she has taken something quite crazily creative and made it beautiful and exquisite. Madeline said: “Her colour use is just amazing, she has such an energy to her work. There’s a professional quality to her work.” 

© Taslima Sultana

Pattern - Cherica Haye, a Royal College of Art graduate was selected as winner of the Texprint Pattern Award. Weaver Cherica has created a range of fabrics that mix the sensibilities of traditional menswear suiting with performance fabrics using dobby and industrial jacquard looms. Her collection focuses on geometric weaves, and she blends fabric structure and a variety of yarns and heat-press finishes achieving sophisticated, dark and bold patterns. The judges admired Cherica’s strong woven designs, and commented that she has a great thought process, executed her designs very well and had a clear concept. She was praised for her extraordinary, gorgeous designs as Tamsin Blanchard commented: “Cherica’s work is really extraordinary.” And fellow judge Deanne Schweitzer agreed saying “instantly I just thought they were gorgeous”. 

© Cherica Haye

Texprint Lululemon Award - Cherica Haye and Florence Angelica Colson (Leeds College of Art) both win the Texprint Lululemon award. Deanne said of Cherica’s work: “I could immediately imagine Cherica’s weaves looking amazing in Lululemon's quest to make athletic apparel gorgeous. I believe what she showed was modern and timeless 'woven' together. When I look at her work the first word that comes to mind is gorgeous and that is exactly what I want someone to say when they see a Lululemon garment.”

Deanne applauded Florence’s colour scheme: “Florence’s dedication to black and white in new ways is beautiful. All of Florence's designs have playful energy and at the same time could be taken very seriously. Black and white is very important to Lululemon so this will be a very fun collaboration.”

Deanne Schweitzer, Lululemon Athletica, and team with designer Florence Angelica Colson at Indigo

Woolmark Texprint Award - Signe Rand Ebbesen, wins the second annual prize for her superb textile designs which were created with 60% or more Merino wool and honours the inventive use of wool in textile design. John Walsh said the judges selected Signe because of her superb use of texture, she has a distinctive style and her understanding of the benefits of this natural sustainable fibre which she used to bring her work to life. He said: “Some of the textures were beautiful and she has also understood the commercial side to her work - she can go far with it”. Estelle Williams agreed: “She has thought about the commerciality of her work which is really important shown by her ability to work to a brief”. Daliah Simble 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”. 

Signe Rand Ebbessen with judges John Walsh, Estelle Williams and Daliah Simble at Indigo

© Signe Rand Ebbesen

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), woolmark (19), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13), indigo paris (10)

British Textiles in Action

20 September 2013 by Editor

Texprint designers with Kara Owen, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy Paris

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

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), woolmark (19), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), special events (10), indigo paris (10)

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.

www.rolandmouret.com

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.

www.moons.co.uk

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”. 

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), woolmark (19), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13), indigo paris (10)

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

Article tags: fashion (33), champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint 2013 (21), indigo paris (10)

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

Article tags: general (50), champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint london (18), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13)

Texprint Talks: Andrew Mellows and Richard Winstanley of The Drapers’ Company

19 August 2013 by

Founded over 600 years ago, the Drapers’ Company is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London. From its origins as a trade guild, over the centuries it has moved with the times and evolved into an organisation that addresses contemporary issues through its philanthropic initiatives which range from the support of elderly people to education. 

The Drapers’ Company is a Foundation Sponsor of Texprint, meaning it has pledged significant financial support for three years. The Company also made a sizable grant to Texprint last year enabling six designers to show at Interstoff Asia Essential in Hong Kong.

Richard Winstanley (left) and Andy Mellows with Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington

Head of charities Andrew Mellows and Colonel Richard Winstanley OBE, the Company’s clerk, came to see Texprint’s London presentation, held at Chelsea College of Art in July 2013, to meet this year’s participating 24 designers and talk with Texprint:

Through your active involvement, the Texprint programme is able to continue its annual programme, launching the careers of the best new textile design graduates from British universities and colleges.

Andy: We’re just delighted to be able, in a small way, to make a contribution to getting these young people on the path to a good career.

Richard: We engage with all sorts of areas; at one end of the spectrum we look after the under privileged and give them an opportunity where they don’t have it, and at this end of the spectrum we blow on an ember of excellence and make it glow, it’s wonderful to see.

Can you tell me more about how the Drapers’ Company has moved from trade guild to supporting charities such as Texprint?

Richard: The Company will be celebrating its 650th anniversary next year. And in effect, like all liveries we were monopolies on our particular trades in order to fix price, quantity and quality. During the 16th century we effectively stopped our control of the trade. In the course of that journey we had built up a membership. In those days, there was no NHS or educational body, if you wanted to get a better place in heaven you put money into something to ease your journey. So through a combination of all those things, the Drapers’, as with many of the liveries, became benefactors of peoples’ endowments and they realised they needed to invest that to look after their own and that converted as the wealth grew into charitable giving. It was a relatively contemporary decision to go back to our threads and get involved in the textile industry.

Andy: In the early 1990s we became involved with Texprint. We did quite a lot of work supporting design students at various universities. And Texprint was a logical follow on from that in that it connects academia with the commercial world.

Which other textile-focused organisations are you involved with?

Andy: We support the Engineering Development Trust [EDT] and its work in smart materials and composites. It’s a 21st century application of textiles that’s a big area of interest and we support educational visits by school children to smart materials companies.

Why should other members of the fashion and textile industry get involved in supporting Texprint?

Andy: I think it’s important that we don’t lose the skills and training of these young people. In industry today there is almost a principle of something for nothing. And I think it’s important that these young designers are given the chance to develop further in an area they have already excelled in and as many companies as possible get involved in providing internships, works experience or ultimately employment opportunities for young people.

Richard: The reason is in this room. It’s absolutely fascinating, the sheer breadth of quality and the spectrum of work that the designers have created.

What has caught your eye today?

Andy: Gillian Murphy’s knitwear is very innovative, very stylish and obviously of extremely high quality, I thought her colour selection was very clever.

Richard: I thought Katy Birchall’s work was brilliant, a very clever a combination of old and extremely modern. But that’s not in any way to say the others are not as good, I just haven’t got around to all of them.

Andy Mellows talks with Gillian Louise Murphy

Did you receive any good advice when you were starting your working lives that you would like to share? Or do you have some good advice for those starting their careers?

Richard: I am sure like many I have received lots of advice from many people over the years, most but not all of which was helpful.  I think there are probably two bits of advice I can offer above all else which I have tried to follow both myself over the years:

When taking on a new job keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. There will come a time when you know as much if not more than those around you but until then be wary of wading in. And never be afraid of seeking advice as people generally enjoy giving it!   

Never be afraid of making mistakes as it is the best way of learning from them. The trick of course is to make sure they are not deliberate and not to repeat them, thus demonstrating one’s own learning.

I have always tried to live by these (not sure I have always succeeded). It is a balance of tempering one’s innate (and to begin with youthful and therefore sometimes inexperienced) enthusiasm with a desire to show willing. 

Andy: I would say that they are going to have knock backs along the way; don’t take it personally and keep believing in yourself.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), sponsors (26), texprint 2013 (21)

Texprint 2013: Meet the judges, Emma Kidd of Selfridges

08 August 2013 by

Emma Kidd, creative researcher at Selfridges, plays a vital role as part of Selfridges creative team. Selfridges opened its doors on Oxford Street, London in 1909 and revolutionised the retail arena, making department stores a site of entertainment and creating an iconic London landmark. Over 100 years later, with four locations in the UK, Selfridges continues to innovate and entertain shoppers. Selfridges is the only department store to be twice awarded the accolade of the Best Department Store in the World.

In July 2013, Emma joined the special prize judging panel in London to select the shortlisted designers for this year’s Texprint Awards in Body, Space, Pattern and Colour.

Emma reviewing the work

How did you find judging the Texprint Awards, can you tell us what you were most excited about?


I was really excited to see what the future holds in terms of textile design. It was an extremely talented and driven group but the diversity within it was really refreshing. I didn't see a trend stylistically or technically - just individual magic.

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

At Selfridges we are passionate about encouraging emerging talent primarily from the a number of creative sectors including fashion. Textile design is at the core of fashion and is often what drives fashion forward. The next generation of textile designers will influence our future catwalks and what we wear every day. Let's make it an exciting future.

The Texprint programme selects designers who have trained in UK art and design schools, regardless of where they come from originally. Why is the UK art school system so good at producing design talent?

You can't beat Britain for imagination and creativity and I think this is where we have the edge. For a supposedly reserved nation, the creative industries are insuppressible.

Emma with judging panel and the 24 Texprint 2013 selected designers

Can you give me a brief outline of the role of the Selfridges’ creative team?

The team is headed up by Linda Hewson, the director of windows & creative, and our team reports to Alannah Weston, the creative director of Selfridges. The role of the creative team is ultimately a conceptual one; researching and developing ideas that inspire everything from architecture and spaces within the store, to seasonal and creative store-wide schemes, product development and customer experience. In a sense we are a tool that ensures Selfridges can evolve in a way that is consistent with Alannah's vision, is in touch with the world around us, and always has a beady eye on the future.

Could you give me an idea what a typical day is like for you?

I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a typical day in the creative office. Every day is different! We like to vary the way we work according to project. However, we do generally have lots of meetings between departments, and of course for brainstorming and generating ideas. As a researcher, I like to start my day catching up on my favourite blogs and checking the day's news.

What is the best thing about working at Selfridges? What do you think sets Selfridges apart from other department stores?

I would say the people. As we work with lots of other departments, I am always meeting new people and I am constantly blown away by their knowledge, expertise and passion for their subject.  
Personally, I would say that the character of Selfridges is unique. We're a ‘thinking’ brand but don't like to take ourselves too seriously. There will always be some kind of wit or humour, a touch of the magical or surreal, and we like to have fun.

What’s next in store for Selfridges - are you working on any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Yes! Our Bright Young Things of 2013 launches late August. Previous BYTs have gone on to be very successful in the creative industries; from Simone Rocha to Patternity. This, the third Bright Young Things scheme, features fifteen UK-based emerging talents from the worlds of fashion, accessories, art, animation, set design and food. Each fledgling designer will take over one of the world-renowned window displays at Selfridges London and their creations will be on sale in the dedicated Bright Young Things Concept Store and Selfridges.com.

Where would you suggest a first time Selfridges shopper should check out in store?

Come and spend the day! I have to say I love our new Wine Shop and Harry Gordon's bar. It's a really cool space designed by Campaign Architects. The cocktails are delicious and the wine selection outstanding. A great way to unwind after a busy day shopping.

Article tags: champions of texprint (41), business (51), texprint london (18), texprint 2013 (21), judges 2013 (13)

Texprint 2013 Selection Interviews: how, why, who and what

23 July 2013 by Editor

Emma Sewell, Ruth Greany, Gregory Parsons with designer and Peter Ring-Lefevre (right)

With Texprint 2013 well underway this seems a timely opportunity to track back to the first stage of the selection process as we catch up with Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre to discuss the how, why, who and what of the Texprint interviews.

Peter, over 190 graduates are interviewed over a three-week period – quite a schedule, how does it all work?

Shortly after Easter Texprint approaches all the UK’s design colleges and universities, inviting textile course leaders and tutors to put forward their most talented designers who are about to graduate, and who they feel are most likely to benefit from the Texprint experience.  That they are Trained in Britain is the key, the designers are international as well as British-born, and can be graduating from BA or MA degree courses (though can only be selected once for Texprint, if at BA then not again at MA).

Photo left: Keighley Sheperdly, Sarah Cheyne / Photo right: Neil Bamford, Claire Whiston, Emma Shipley (hidden)

This is an intense time for the Texprint team as tutors are contacted, queries answered, designers telephoned and emailed to establish when they can come to London (as they hail from all corners of the UK!) and interview timetables are scheduled, changed and scheduled again!

Well over 240 designers were put forward this year by 37 UK colleges, which is fantastic.  However as we are only able to interview around 190 designers over our planned three weeks, already decisions need to be made! 

Prior to this I am in touch with our network of industry contacts, all amazing champions of Texprint each of whom give up time in their busy schedules to get involved and interview for at least one day. I also aim to invite several course leaders to participate as this is the best way to illustrate what Texprint is looking for and I know they find the experience very helpful.

JO PIERCE: “It’s great to be asked. As a senior lecturer and someone putting forward students for Texprint it’s a great opportunity to see first hand what Texprint is looking for, also to see the benchmark. It’s useful to meet with others in the industry and hear their views on students, and to see what they’re looking for.”

Angela cassidy, Noel Chapman, Jessica Quinton

Why is it important to conduct individual face-to-face interviews and who does the interviewing?

This is one of the unique aspects of the Texprint programme.  It is only by interviewing each designer, looking in detail at their portfolios and asking probing questions, that one can discover where their true potential lies.

It’s a rigorous process and the first stage of mentoring. Our interviewers are all experts in one or more textile discipline, they are all professionals and working in industry, have their own studios or textile-based businesses, and in some cases they are alumni. Given their wealth of experience the interviewers can quickly assess where a designer is coming from, what their interests and skills are and what potential they offer if given the best opportunities to showcase their work.

The face-to-face interview and the knowledge we build up of the selected designers also means that we can wholeheartedly recommend these designers to potential employers, not just for their design skills but for their confidence, work ethic, desire to succeed etc.

CLAIRE WHISTON: “I love spending a day immersing myself with students and their portfolios. Often at degree and MA shows you do not get to see the back up research or hear directly from the students what their work is about.  Something new and refreshing always crops up and new trends emerge. The mix of colleges allows me to overview the current year and points me to new emerging courses.”

And every designer benefits from this opportunity - for many, even if not selected for Texprint, the interview itself is a revelation.  The interviewers are able to swiftly highlight aspects of their work or suggest next steps that the designers may not have even considered.

JANE KELLOCK: “It’s exciting to be part of an initiative that supports British design and helps graduates reach the next level after completing their education. I find it very inspiring, being involved helps keep me in touch with what’s inspiring young people - and I feel passionate about helping young designers and want to give something back.”

Jane Kellock, David Edmond, Jeremy Somers

What are the interview panels looking for in each designer’s portfolio?

In September the selected designers will exhibit as professional designers at Indigo/Première Vision.  Indigo is central to the Texprint programme and experience - however as Texprint is increasingly seen as a design source for all creative industries – fashion, interiors, product, accessories, automotive, graphics among others - it is important that we think beyond fashion when considering the work.

JEREMY SOMERS: “I’m looking for originality, great colour and creativity, thoughtfulness, exceptional drawing skills and technical ability, plus confidence and conviction – and ultimately whether the graduate will gain from the Texprint experience.”

Primarily we are looking for 24 designers whose work pushes the boundaries!  Collections of work that demonstrate innovation, creativity, skill and commercial awareness.  It is also important to assess not just the work shown, but whether the designer has more ideas that can be developed in the future.

DAVID EDMOND: “Helping out with Texprint is a joy for me. It is great to see new designers’ potential and be able to help them with insight and directional advice.”

ELEANOR PRITCHARD: “I really enjoy seeing a snapshot of the work coming out of British textile courses. It’s a real privilege to be shown and talk through the sketchbooks, the journey and process behind a collection. I got a huge amount from Texprint when I graduated and am very happy to contribute to helping the next generation of designers.”

The interviews are also a unique opportunity to track how standards across the UK are changing or developing.  In some cases one is disappointed if standards seem weaker than previous years, in other cases, you can be completely overawed by the extraordinary work of many of today’s most talented graduates.

SARAH CHEYNE: “As I work in the more commercial sector of textiles it is refreshing to see portfolios of work which are not necessarily constrained by feasibility or production costs.”

Wrapping up, Peter says the key is to evaluate whether the interviewee is really ready for the opportunities Texprint can open up for them – is the designer focused and determined, do they understand the skills they need to be successful – not just to be talented, that’s a given, but also do they show enthusiasm, confidence and a willingness to learn, fast!

NEIL BAMFORD: “Texprint showcases our textile design graduates to the international industry. Being an ‘ex-Texprinter’ I am acutely aware of the support and springboard it gave me, so it’s important for me to give back and in turn support this great charity.”

Chris Judge, Helen Palmer

Texprint 2013 Interview Panels:

Texprint would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all the professionals who participated in the 2013 Selection Interviews - your time, energy and experience is hugely appreciated as always.

Kim Avella: tutor Royal College of Art, freelance designer

Neil Bamford: Mint design studio

Joanna Bowring: sponsorship director Texprint, president British Textile Colour Group

Angela Cassidy: own studio, Texprint alumna

Noel Chapman: own studio

Sarah Cheyne: Johnson Cheyne design studio

Fiona Coleman: global head of colour WGSN

Isabel Dodd: tutor Chelsea College of Art & Design

Katie Dominy: founder Arts Thread

David Edmond: own studio

Katie Ellis: studio manager Circle Line Design

Philippa George: The Collection design studio

Gill Gledhill: GGHQ

Alison Grant: textile designer

Ruth Greany: fabric editor WGSN

Janet Holbrook: Holbrook Studio, Peclers

Chris Judge: own Studio

Jane Kellock: consultant Stylus and Debenhams, member British Textile Colour Group

Barbara Kennington: chairman Texprint

Jaqui Lewis: Lewis & Lewis design studio

Jaine McCormack: interiors textile design 

Shane McCoubrey: McCoubrey art & design

Kirsty McDougall: tutor Brighton, Dashing Tweeds

Helen Palmer: head of materials and knitwear WGSN

Gregory Parsons: Halcyon Days, museum curator

Gina Pierce: course leader London Metropolitan

Jo Pierce: senior lecturer Central St Martins

Eleanor Pritchard: own weave studio

Jessica Quinton: Quinton Chadwick

Emma Sewell: Wallace Sewell

Keighley Shepherdly: designer Liberty Art Fabrics

Emma Shipley: own studio, Texprint alumna

Alison Smart: RA Smart Ltd

Jeremy Somers: Circle Line Design

Angela Swan: own studio, Worshipful Company of Weavers

Anne Tyrrell MBE: CEO Anne Tyrrell Design

Claire Whiston: Whiston & Wright design studio

Article tags: alumni (42), general (50), champions of texprint (41), texprint 2013 (21), interview panels (1)