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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.
WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley
07 November 2013 by Editor
The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.
Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products". The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.
Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.
From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.
Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week. Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.
Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE
Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and in October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process.
In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.
WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.
Photo report: Texprint at Indigo/Première Vision, Paris (...continued)
09 October 2013 by Editor
As part of the annual programme of industry interaction, and through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, 24 selected Texprint designers were given a unique opportunity to exhibit at Indigo, Paris last month. Our film and photos capture some of the action!
WSA magazine: Build inner strength with the talent of tomorrow
23 January 2013 by Editor
The January issue of WSA magazine features an interview with Sheree Waterson executive vice president and chief product officer of Lululemon Athletica (Texprint foundation sponsors) focused on the thinking behind Lululemon’s support for Texprint and, in Sheree's words, the importance of infusing “the organisation with new talent that sees the world in new ways.”
The inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award was won by Texprint 2012 designers Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves who each received £1,000 and a prestigious 3-month paid internship at Lululemon’s Vancouver headquarters which started this January.
The article offers insight not only into the ethos of this rapidly growing North American business, but also highlights the cultural philosophy and yogic principles that Lululemon encourages in its work force and that feeds into its success.
In the article Sheree says: “In terms of leadership, the interns are going to be immersed in our culture of vision, goal-setting and personal accountability. Additionally they will learn our design principles at Lululemon; combining fashion and function, West Coast lifestyle with European styling and creating their designs through those filters.”
Personal mentoring and well-managed internships are the cornerstones on which graduates can build and fast track their experience gathering. The Texprint programme has long had mentoring at its core and with its sponsor-partners is planning to further develop this aspect of the programme through 2013.
WSA (World Sports Activewear) is a widely recognised, award-winning international publication for material development in the performance wear market. Published six times a year it provides an up-to-date analysis of technical developments, commercial trends and offers valuable business management information. To subscribe to WSA go to www.sportstextiles.com
Breaking boundaries: Texprint 2012’s mixed media specialists
24 November 2012 by
For a unique approach to textile design, many new designers are breaking down boundaries and embracing other media in their work. Texprint’s 2012 showcase revealed four young people who are taking this path to carve out a truly individual style.
Winner of the Texprint Space prize, Tania Knuckey explores the intersection between art and design. She uses many different types of media and techniques revealing a lively and playful attitude. Tania’s painterly and experimental work is often very graphic and evolves in an organic way, encompassing both installation and work for interiors.
Tania Knuckey: chair installation
Tania recently showed some of her chair pieces at The Stables Gallery in Richmond, Surrey: her installation changed on a weekly basis through wrapping new mixed media fabrics around the pieces. She also gave a recent talk on the subject of transforming textiles into animations at the Slow Textiles Group’s studio in Hampstead, London, as well as exhibiting a concept book, created in collaboration with RCA architecture graduate Joseph Deane, at the RCA’s Sustain show.
Neckpieces by Lily Kamper
The enormous BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden, North London, was one of the main inspirations for Lily Kamper’s distinctive work. The hand carved totem columns taken as a reference that she combined with softer elements in her multi-layered processes. Lily creates fresh ideas for fashion accessories, including fabulously futuristic statement jewellery pieces and bags.
Case with Perspex handle by Lily Kamper
She is fascinated by the possibilities of exploring texture and colour; a favourite theme is combining hard and soft materials to create unusual outcomes, as seen in her recent collaboration with men’s footwear designer, Tariq Mahmoud, where she created the Perspex heels. Lily also recently created the bespoke, hand-made trophies for WGSN’s recent Global Fashion Awards 2012.
Knitted textile by Sarah Burton.
Sarah Burton’s exciting contemporary pieces for fashion combine her passion for knitwear with modern embellishment. Sarah loves the process of knitting and constantly plays with construction techniques, continuing to develop her samples in unusual ways. Favourite materials include fine yet strong yarns such as viscose. Sarah’s inspirational research led her to study the traditions of the circus, looking closely at costume for performance, which demands a mix of the practical and the decorative. Sarah is taking up an exciting new position with Acorn Conceptual Textiles based in Nottingham, in addition to developing a small range of hand-made mixed media accessories.
Embellished woven textile by Alix Massieux.
Finally, fantasy and surrealism are aspects that inspired Alix Massieux’s fabric collection. Although a weave specialist, Alix is driven to mix techniques and experiment with embroidery. Targeting a high-end market, she uses fine yarns such as mercerised cotton and silk, but is also intent on injecting an element of fun into her work, using flashes of Lurex to create vibrant, light-hearted effects.
Texprint’s Special Prizes
07 August 2012 by Editor
Encouraging and supporting British-trained talent is important to Texprint’s sponsors, however many of them go one further by awarding special prizes, experiences and internships.
Three of the four Texprint Awards - for Body, Space, Pattern and Colour - are generously sponsored by The Clothworkers’ Foundation (Space), Liberty Art Fabrics (Pattern) and Pantone X-Rite (Colour). Pantone X-Rite also gives the four winners a Pantone F+H Colour Guide.
Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington with Manri Kishimoto and Carola Seybold of prize sponsor Pantone X-Rite
The Lululemon Athletica Award was judged by Sheree Waterson, executive vice president and chief product officer of Lululemon Athletica. Although originally planning to offer one internship, Sheree was so impressed by the exciting design on offer that she simply had to invite two young designers, Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves, to undertake paid 3-month internships at the Lululemon Athletica headquarters in Vancouver. Short-listed for the award were Lisa Bloomer, Dominique Caplan and Fergus Dowling.
Sophie Reeves textile, Sheree Waterson of Lululemon Athletica with Manri Kishimoto and Manri Kishimoto textile
The Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool, donated by The Woolmark Company, will be judged and presented at Indigo/PremièreVision, Paris, in September. We greatly look forward to reporting on that later in the year.
The Italian trade organisation Confindustria Como represents a core of 300 Como-based textile companies. It also supports ComOn, a hub of European creativity based in Como that this year has invited six Texprint designers to participate in a week of creative sharing and interaction. The six designers selected at Texprint London by Marco Taiana for ComON are Alice Howard-Graham, Manri Kishimoto, Sophie Manners, Israel Parra-Zanabria, Sophie Reeves and Ying Wu (top image shows Body prize winner Carlo Volpi with Marco Taiana). They will visit Como in October. Reserves were Lisa Bloomer and Amber Sambrook.
Finally, and also looking ahead to October, Foundation Sponsors The Drapers’ Company, and Supporters The Worshipful Company of Weavers, are this year supporting an extraordinary opportunity for six of the designers. Sarah Burton, Manri Kishimoto, Tania Knuckey, Carlo Volpi, Ying Wu and the winner of the The Woolmark Texprint Award will travel to Hong Kong to exhibit at trade fair Interstoff Asia Essential and experience at first hand this important fashion and textile market.
All great examples of how Texprint works with all its sponsors to ensure they benefit from the relationship – knowing they are supporting British-trained talent, encouraging innovative design, and in many cases, benefiting from early access to innovative new ideas and textile concepts.
Chief product officer for Lululemon Athletica champions Texprint
12 July 2012 by
Sheree Waterson is the charismatic chief product officer for Lululemon Athletica; the Vancouver-based company that creates apparel for people taking part in active sports. Working with a team of over 100, Sheree oversees the design, merchandising, planning, sourcing and production of the fast-moving brand which is sold through 165 stores in Canada, the US and Australia. Lululemon’s website is a source of more than clothing; it is a portal into the company’s energising ethos of community interaction and positive living. Texprint is delighted to welcome Sheree to Texprint London where she joined the special prize judging panel and began the process of selecting a winner from among Texprint’s 24 star textile design graduates of the first Texprint Lululemon prize of £1,000 and a three-month paid internship in Vancouver.
The Texprint team were thrilled to meet you and your team at Indigo, Paris, in September 2011. What was it that inspired you to launch the inaugural Texprint Lululemon prize and internship? We have always been attracted to a certain part of Indigo. And we didn’t know what it was about this certain corner that we felt compelled to go see. But we have come to find out it was Texprint and the exceptional talent we saw. What’s exciting about Texprint is it supports, develops and nurtures the creatives that are involved in textiles.
How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers? The world is changing and we are going from a society of consuming and conquering and we are moving into one of simplicity and beauty. People who are right-brained and creative are going to be the ones who lead the way for a new future.
What does ‘trained in Britain’ mean to you? The UK has a phenomenal track record for producing talent that’s unparalleled and the rigour with which the curriculum is constructed results in the best talent in the world. They have to work really hard and be extremely passionate to graduate. The talent at Texprint is the best of the best and it’s international.
Will you be looking for a particular personality type as well as design talent in your choice of winner? We are looking for talent. We are looking for somebody who can create a future that isn’t already out there someone who is pushing the boundaries of creativity. And we are also looking for someone who can fit into the culture. So there is an energy and enthusiasm, a passion about what they do. We find the people who are successful at Lululemon are naturally intellectually curious and are anxious to be in a relationship with people that share the same values and creative energy.
Will you be looking for someone with an understanding of technical fabrics or a particular aesthetic? At this point we are looking for an aesthetic. Combining beauty with function is what our brand is about. So taking the beauty of what is created here by the designers at Texprint and juxtaposing that with function, creating something new that’s never been before - that’s what we’re interested in. The person who will be an intern will be a pioneer with us.
And three months in Vancouver! Vancouver is the perfect spot for Lululemon to be born, Vancouver is a city where people are constantly outdoors and doing something physical. Whether it’s yoga for yoga’s sake or yoga for cross training, for run, ski, paddle boarding, kayaking, snowboarding… then go out and eat great sushi. It’s a physically beautiful place, it’s very vibrant and it’s a young city.
Tell us about the Lululemon lifestyle, do you have breakout yoga sessions? (Laughing) We do have yoga and training classes in our main office building. All of our design team are athletes; everything we do is authentic because they are partaking in the sport they are designing for. And a big part of the power of the Lululemon brand is the relationships that we have with the community at a grassroots level which are very powerful. We support the yoga studios, run clubs... that we love and uphold our values and in turn, they do product testing for us, so that we understand how to improve the function and the fit and so forth so that we can be the best in the world.
In certain ways, what we’ve said to one another is, if we weren’t a yoga company we would be a leadership company because the product is really the entrée or conduit to the conversations with our guests to teach them to have a life that they love, fulfilled, through goal-setting, personal responsibility, creating their own life - attracting great things.
Leutton Postle: a dynamic fashion partnership
01 May 2012 by
Sam Leutton (Texprint alumna 2009) is now one half of a creative partnership formed with her long time friend Jenny Postle. Now working as Leutton Postle, the duo is currently working on their third season. Leutton Postle’s wonderfully rich and imaginative textiles define each piece in their inventive collection, and they describe their aesthetic as “awkward pretty”. They scooped the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award for their spring/summer 2012 collection during London Fashion Week in September 2011. We caught up with Sam to find out more:
Leutton Postle's creative collaboration
What made you decide to form a partnership - creating Leutton Postle? Jenny and I have been friends for ages, we both knit and we have a similar aesthetic in our work. When Jenny finished her MA (at CSM) I was freelancing and it was a natural progression for us to join forces.
You are both creative people with individual ideas – so how does the partnership work? We bring together our own personal ideas and inspirations, hash and re-hash them together and throw them in a kind of melting pot of knitting and textiles. The result is a fabric, a garment or a product that has a bit of both of us in it.
In practical terms – how do you divide up the essential non-creative tasks of running your own business? If we've got certain tasks that need doing we generally work on them together, or whoever is the most alert/least knackered takes over!
Can you describe a typical day at work? It starts with tea and lots of it. Jenny is very chirpy in the morning whereas I'm usually not human until noon. We're not massively organised, so each day is very different but usually involves a lot of emailing, the odd meeting and, if we're lucky, some making.
What inspires you in your work? Oh, all-sorts. We don't restrain ourselves by certain subjects in particular but in the end the last collection [autumn/winter 2012/13] came from a mulch of 1970s textiles and Nigerian appliqué techniques.
Leutton Postle textile detail
Do you have favourite materials that you work with? Where to start… we use anything up to 20 different yarns in a garment but I especially like a weird chenille which looks like rubber bands but feels like a Sylvanian Family character. I also love a fuzzy mohair, super shiny iridescent fabrics, and cords and tapes.
What is your vision for Leutton Postle’s future? To grow steadily and retain our creativity.
You graduated in 2009 and went to China – what were you doing and who were you working for? After graduation, I was offered the opportunity to work for Stoll, a German knitwear company. I worked in the design department developing knitted fabrics and garments.
What was it that first drew you to knitwear? I loved how I could make a whole new fabric with one continuous thread. And then be able to add in other fabrics; manipulating the knitted piece to create something new again. I did, and still do, find knitting quite amazing.
What qualities do you think are needed to be successful in knitwear design? Patience, lots of it. Learning to knit was very frustrating for me, so endurance too! But really a love for textiles and experimentation are good attributes to have.
What have been the significant moments in your career so far? Starting Leutton Postle; the emotional roller-coaster of creating a collection and the resulting shows. Also, Björk ordered pieces from our spring/summer 2012 collection. If we could choose one person in the world to wear our pieces it would be her - so for her to pick us is beyond flattering.
Harold Tillman and Texprint's Peter Ring-Lefevre with Sam Leutton at Indigo Paris 2009
What did being part of Texprint mean to you? It was flattering to be chosen to take part in Texprint. It gave me a great insight into the industry very soon after graduation. A highlight was exhibiting in Paris and being around like-minded textile designers.
Advice to new graduates? Relax, unwind and clear your head. For me, my career so far has happened very naturally but I think it's important to nurture relationships with people who are in the industry that you are in.
Advice to those just embarking on a textile or fashion degree? Be as creative as you can. On your degree you can do what you like and don’t be swayed by commerciality, so make the most of it!
What are your long-term plans? For Leutton Postle to continue and to get better and stronger. We want to continue to wow people. Other than that it would be great to open a crazy shop. I'd love to do more pieces specifically for performance. And I'd like to work on some non-fashion art work at some point.
Texprint and Marks & Spencer collaboration: Patterns of the Future
06 March 2012 by
In an exciting collaboration with Foundation Sponsor Marks & Spencer, print designs by three of the designers selected for Texprint 2011 are being used in women’s fashion and bedding collections under the banner Patterns of the Future which launched at its Marble Arch, London flagship store and online during London Fashion Week in February 2012.
Instigated by Kate Bostock, M&S executive director for general merchandise, the project is a first for Texprint, and the embodiment of Texprint’s goal to make mutually constructive introductions between new design talent and forward thinking brands and retailers.
Geri Tilly, Annette Browne and Neil Hendy of Marks & Spencer reviewing the work
M&S’s head of design for brands Helen Low and head of womenswear Neil Hendy visited Texprint London in July 2011 where they were impressed by the work of Texprint’s 2011 print designers. A group of the designers were invited to M&S head office where the team shortlisted three - Toni Lake, Beth Pryor and Carol Pau - with the aim of taking their designs from paper to its customers’ wardrobes.
From the three, Toni Lake’s sumptuous drawings have been printed – by M&S supplier and Texprint supporter ATT Concorde – and used in an exclusive range for M&S within its Autograph and Limited Collections. Read more about Toni here.
The Autograph range features two of Toni’s kaleidoscope-style drawings in a knee-length shift dress and a maxi dress, while the Limited Collection presents Toni’s swan designs in a T-shirt, a tunic dress and a zip-fronted knee-length dress. One of these pieces is to feature in an edition of the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine on March 11, 2012. Toni says of her latest commercial success: “I think the garments look fantastic and I now see the prints from a different perspective. Seeing the final pieces has made me so proud.”
Further print designs by the selected designers are expected to feature in M&S’s product ranges spring and autumn 2012. Beth Pryor has also enjoyed a five-week work placement with the company. Beth says: “I had a great time learning new skills and working in a professional studio environment with such wonderful teams.”
The designs of Toni and fellow Texprint designer Carol Pau are to feature on dynamic bed linens in the Home range and will be widely available through M&S stores.