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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 Their comprehensive archives provide a rich source of historical reference and future inspiration.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.
WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley
07 November 2013 by Editor
The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.
Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products". The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.
Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.
From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.
Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week. Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.
Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE
Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and in October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process.
In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.
WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.
Texprint at Intertextile Shanghai
28 October 2013 by Editor
October 21-24 saw Texprint exhibiting at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics sponsored by Messe Frankfurt (HK) with a stand located in the new Verve for Design section in Hall W1, the most prestigious international hall at this vast 17-hall show.
“For the first time, Texprint, the organisation promoting talented young textile designers, will introduce the Texprint awards to the Chinese market in the Verve for Design section.” Twist magazine, Sept 2013.
The work of the six Texprint 2013 prize winners - Cherica Haye, Signe Rand Ebbesen, Florence Angelica Colson, Taslima Sultana, Ffion Griffith and Kazusa Takamura - was prominently displayed with wall-mounted images and one or two examples of each of their work, creating much interest from the many visitors and buyers. The show was also an excellent opportunity for Texprint chairman, Barbara Kennington, and sponsorship director, Joanna Bowring, to make new contacts and assess the future potential for collaborations in China and elsewhere in Asia.
“It is most encouraging to see the desire for original design work growing in this region, with many Asian buyers recognising the advantages of buying unique designs and prepared to pay European prices. Texprint is most grateful to Messe Frankfurt (HK) for their continuing support and we look forward to building on our presence at Intertextile Shanghai next year,” said Joanna Bowring.
Among other exhibitors, Hall W1 also housed Texprint sponsors The Woolmark Company (with The Wool Lab), the UKFT British section of weavers - looking very smart with its Savile Row-inspired branding - and Liberty Art Fabrics.
Photo report: Texprint at Indigo/Première Vision, Paris (...continued)
09 October 2013 by Editor
The Woolmark Texprint Award Judging Process
26 September 2013 by
“Beautiful designs!” John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons, said as he looked at Texprint designer Alice Preston’s neon hand-printed designs. Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, at Roland Mouret both agreed as they continued to search for a winner of the third annual Woolmark Texprint Award.
Out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the 2013 Texprint programme, all of whom presented their work at Indigo / Première Vision in Paris September 17-19, 2013, the judges looked for a designer excelling in the inventive use of wool in textile design and using 60% or more Merino wool in their designs. Needless to say the three prize judges had a tough time deciding on Wednesday 18 September 2013, prior to the presentation that afternoon.
Signe Rand Ebbesen with Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company
The judges questioned the designers about the end product use and the production costs of their designs: vital knowledge for today’s textile designers. Analysing the designers’ work from both the fashion and interiors side was also a key factor in choosing the winning designer, as John said: “We started showing in interiors eight to 10 years ago and now it is 25% of our business. The interiors market is growing and becoming increasingly fashionable as fashion designers are looking at furnishings – it is a unique situation.”
The judges praised courses, noting the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins, for teaching designers about commercial imperative and the translation of textiles into garments.
After meeting with the Texprint designers and discussing their work in detail, the judges then met for a tête-à-tête to make the final decision. They highly commended weaver Cherica Haye and knit designer Phoebe Brown, both RCA graduates, for their innovative techniques and use of wool. Daliah Simble said: “I really liked Phoebe’s techniques of using plastics and plating in her knitted textiles.” Estelle Williams agreed: “Phoebe’s innovativeness is extremely important and in our role we are both constantly trying new fabrics.” The judges managed to come to a unanimous decision choosing RCA graduate Signe Rand Ebbesen as the winner out of the 24 shortlisted designers.
Phoebe Brown shows her work to the judges
Prize presenter Maurizio Galante, member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and Woolmark’s Peter Ackroydpresented Signe her award in front of an eager audience. The prize includes £1,000 in prize money and also extensive training on the benefits and uses of wool through the nearest Woolmark International office.
John said the judges selected Signe because of her superb use of texture, her distinctive style and her understanding of the benefits of this natural sustainable fibre which she used to bring her work to life.
© Signe Rand Ebbesen
John commented: “Some of the textures were beautiful and she has also understood the commercial side to her work - she can go far with it.” Estelle agreed: “She has thought about the commerciality of her work which is really important shown by her ability to work to a brief.” Daliah added: “We both loved Signe’s innovative techniques which we at Roland Mouret look for. We would love some of those fabrics at Roland Mouret.
Barbara Kennington, chairman of Texprint, on hearing of the decision said: “We all greatly admire Signe’s work, this award is completely appropriate for her and such fantastic news.”
Roozbeh Ghanadi shows his work to the judges
Katy Birchall shows her work to the judges
Ffion Griffith shows her work to the judges
Texprint special prize winners announced at Indigo
20 September 2013 by
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
British Textiles in Action
20 September 2013 by Editor
Textiles glitterati gathered at the British Embassy Paris on 17th September for a high profile reception hosted by UK Trade & Investment in partnership with UKFT and with thanks to The Woolmark Company and The Campaign For Wool. HRH Prince Charles gave a specially recorded speech in support of the evening and the British textile industry and wool.
Texprint 2013 designers Taslima Sultana, Katy Birchall, Cherica Haye, Ffion Griffith, Luise Martin, and Gillian Louise Murphy were there, mingling with many of the UK and International textile industry’s top players.
Kirsty Carey, MD of Liberty Design, with Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint creative director
Guests at the reception, Anne Tyrrell MBE centre
The Texprint Woolmark Award: Meet the Judges
13 September 2013 by
The Woolmark Company and Texprint are very pleased that two leaders of the British design industry are collaborating to select the Woolmark Texprint Award winner.
Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, both of Roland Mouret, join John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons, on 18 September 2013 to select one prize winner excelling in the usage of wool and other natural fibres from among the 24 Texprint designers showcasing at Indigo, Première Vision.
For over a decade, the luxury fashion house Roland Mouret has been synonymous with covetable womenswear and iconic garments such as the Galaxy, Titanium and Moon dresses. A true style influencer, the designer Roland Mouret has changed the way pattern cutting is looked at. Focusing on structure and silhouette, Mouret flatters the female form with figure-hugging, sexy dresses which have adorned the likes of Victoria Beckham, Kate Middleton and Carey Mulligan and the house is continually expanding its collections. In 2012 the Roland Mouret brand presented its first debut bridal collection The White Collection and also unveiled its first ever shoe collection that launched in autumn/winter 2012/13. Daliah, head of sourcing & production at Roland Mouret has over 20 years’ experience in the fashion sector, and Estelle’s role as collection development manager include overseeing the womenswear collections’ product development team from design concept to the pre-production stages. Estelle also works directly with the creative director in developing the collections which involves selecting fabric and trims sourcing.
Luxury brands look to mills like Abraham Moon & Sons to source and produce their fabric. Established in 1837, Abraham Moon founded his namesake company in Guiseley, England. The country’s only vertically integrated mill, the unique Yorkshire-based site currently houses blending, carding, dyeing, finishing, spinning and weaving processes. Focusing on natural fibres such as alpaca, cashmere, linen, mohair, silk and wool, the mill produces a wide variety of fabrics destined for fashion and interior use from high street to haute couture. Specialising in tweed wool fashions,the high-quality wool is imported from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Moon’s fabrics stand for heritage, high quality and luxury and so Moon counts international fashion names such as Burberry, Chanel and Ralph Lauren among its customers. John Walsh became the managing director in 1989 as the fourth generation of his family to run the company; his great-grandfather Charles Walsh bought the mill in 1920 from the Moon family.
John Walsh; images from heritage collection 2008
Both the design team at Roland Mouret and John Walsh are firm believers in the benefits that wool offers. Estelle says: “Wool provides both the structure and flexibility which are core features in Roland’s collections. It also has an excellent absorption of dye, is durable and sustainable. Wool is a win-win from both an aesthetic and performance point of view.” The Roland Mouret womenswear collections use a substantial amount of wool depending on the season ranging from 35% in the spring/summer collections to 65% for autumn/winter. John was chairman of the British Wool Textile Export Corporation for five years and says: “We have a generation who did not grow up with the Woolmark and the consistent advertising behind it which re-enforced the message explaining the unique qualities of wool. Attitudes are changing however and consumers are once again appreciating that wool and other natural fibres have not only inherently better qualities but also make a better ecological and sustainable choice. Well-made, great quality timeless classics are an important part of today's wardrobe.”
The luxury fashion house Roland Mouret is a firm supporter of new design talent: Chloe Hamblin - winner of the Texprint 2011 Colour Award - is now working as a print and surface designer with the company having first made contact with the designer at the Texprint Village at Indigo/Première Vision in September 2011. “Wool should be a natural choice for new designers primarily because it is a very versatile yarn whether you are using it in knitwear, jersey or woven fabric,” Daliah says.
Roland Mouret autumn/winter 2014 collection
The importance of UK-based skills and promoting made-in-Britain luxury is enthusiastically encouraged by the judges: Daliah was responsible for moving over half of the company’s production back to the UK. John adds: “As the appreciation for British quality and design in textiles results in the re-emergence of manufacturing the next generation will find new opportunities for their talents. Now is the time to seize the initiative and make sure we invest in the education and training of those who will take our industry forward.”
All three judges will be looking for innovative designs when judging the Woolmark Texprint prize. Estelle says: “Roland embraces the motto ‘think outside of the box’. This will be a strong influence in the selection process as Roland loves the unconventional.” John will be looking for “a fusion of originality with commerciality”.
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
Sophie Manners: One Year On, now based at Cockpit Arts
29 August 2013 by Editor
Philippa Watkins, journalist, Texprint council member and recently retired RCA senior tutor specialising in weave, catches up with Texprint alumni weaver Sophie Manners.
It has been a busy year for Sophie - since showing with Texprint at Indigo September 2012 (where she was selected for the Woolmark Texprint Award), as well as showing with Texprint in Hong Kong and enjoying a two and half month internship in Italy working with Como silk weaver Taroni, she recently moved into her own studio space at Cockpit Arts Holborn in London.
Woolmark Texprint Award judges examine Sophie's work at Indigo 2013
This was for her an absolute joy. To have been selected for a studio place and bursary, which Cockpit Arts offer on their incubator programme to help talented designer-makers - just being there is a recognised benchmark of quality craftsmanship and designer excellence - has given her a huge confidence boost and a solid base from where she can further develop her own very distinctive design work.
Sophie's studio at cockpit Arts
Moving in her computerised Harris loom, her hank winder and dyeing equipment, thanks to a grant from the Worshipful Company of Weavers, Sophie is now exploring again her distinctly structured woven designs, including the velvet techniques she developed as a student at the RCA. Currently she is working on new ideas for HodgeSellers Design Consultancy, a leading textile design consultancywhich works on developing materials and ways of processing new ideas to bring a distinctive edge to fabrics for their international clients, among whom are some of Europe’s leading luxury brands.
As well as commissioned design work Sophie is producing her own woven products prompted by the opportunity offered by the Cockpit Arts Open Studios. New and distinctive designs for scarves and cushions include tie dyed warps and a novel ‘marbled’ technique which she applies to the warp before weaving, thus producing a beautiful, uniquely coloured effect for scarves. sophiemanners.tumblr.com
But none of this might have happened if it hadn’t been for Texprint. “Texprint opened up so many opportunities” she says, “it really was the best thing I could have done after graduating. And I sold quite a few designs at Texprint in Indigo, which was so gratifying - just to know people appreciated my work.”
It was through Texprint and ComOn in Italy, which set up the opportunity for six Texprint designer internships in Italy, that she was selected to work with Taroni Spa, one the oldest silk mills (founded in 1880) in Como, in the production of superb quality silks, including jacquards and prints for fashion and furnishing. The experience she says was invaluable - to observe at first hand how the industry works, as well as getting some of her own designs into work. And it has provided her with a sense of how to approach commissioned briefs for clients and how to market her work.
Cockpit Arts is an award winning social enterprise and the UK’s only creative-business incubator for designer-makers, whosemission it is to support and promote talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career. Their incubator studios in Holborn, WC1, close to the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter, and in Deptford SE8, are the centre of an exciting community of artists and craftspeople, both established designer-makers and those who are just starting out.
Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer
12 August 2013 by
Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience that Nancy describes as “one of the happiest of my life.” Our interview with Nancy illustrates how much the Texprint showcase contributes to launching creative careers and how the paths alumni follow are increasingly rich and diverse.
Creativity is in Nancy’s DNA; her father is the sculptor, Guy Taplin, and her mother is the ceramicist Robina Jack. An exciting showcase of the work of all three will be revealed through a family show at renowned gallery Messum’s, in London, which opens on 29th October 2013. Nancy will be showing a new collection of her startlingly beautiful and detailed bird paintings.
Nancy loves living and working in London - she shares a studio with eight other people, almost all of who are working in fashion and textiles. A typical day for her would include around six hours painting – but she told us, “The way in which I paint is detailed and intense and I can only really paint in short bursts, so I take lots of breaks and chat with people. When I first started painting, I was living in Essex and working on my own. I would dream about a space in a big, busy London studio; I feel so blessed now that it’s become a reality.”
How many new works are you creating for the forthcoming Taplin family show at Messum’s?
There will be ten new pieces. It’s really exciting to see the work come together - in some ways it feels a lot like planning and creating a fabric collection. Even though I’m working with unique, stand-alone pieces, I can’t help but think about how they’ll fit together as a group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a gallery context.
How did this opportunity come about?
My family are all artists and it was suggested that we have a family show. I started painting by accident in 2010. I was working as a freelance textile designer at the time, primarily for Issa, having been approached by them at Texprint’s London show. I was quite reluctant to suddenly start producing fine art pieces because I couldn’t see myself working in that way, but thought I may as well give it a go. I’d intended to do a small series of prints, but my father saw the sketchbook I was drawing in – an old ledger onto which I’d painted a bird – and immediately saw that it worked as a piece in itself. I sold all the book paintings I did for that show, and after that it just took on a momentum of its own. I’ve since had a couple more group shows and a solo show and I still haven’t managed to hang on to a painting for myself!
It’s funny, because when I was at Indigo Paris with Texprint, I was approached by a man who bluntly told me my fabrics were beautiful but I’d never make any money as a textile designer because they were fine art, and although it did trouble me at the time, I often think how it was a strangely prescient comment.
After winning the 2009 Texprint Interiors Prize you went on to work as print and embellishment designer for Issa. How was this experience?
It was a massive learning curve. I was so grateful for the opportunity and working with such a glamorous label was exciting. Seeing print and embroidery designs I’d worked on featured on Style.com having being shown at London Fashion Week was a great experience. However, looking back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Their aesthetic is completely different to my own and whilst I’m happy working to a brief, I found having to completely remould my style to fit with the sleekness and femininity that is Issa’s trademark a bit of an uphill struggle. If I had the confidence and perspective I have now, I might have refused the role and pursued more suitable freelance work. However, I’m really relieved I didn’t: not only was working with them a wonderful thing to have done, but because I found it so challenging I learned an enormous amount about myself and about the way in which I’m happiest working.
Obviously birds, and your father’s work, inspire you. Has this always been the case?
I spent my childhood surrounded by birds – stuffed, wooden, painted, living – they were everywhere. I’ve grown up with the East End’s answer to David Attenborough for a dad: when you’re with him he keeps up a continual commentary on the natural world and it’s blessed me with an awareness of nature and wildlife that I haven’t really had to work for. Wherever I go I’m conscious of the birds, insects and plants around me, whether it’s seagulls and starlings on the Ridley Road Market or shorebirds along the River Colne.
My background is in art history, and I guess my painting style is inspired in equal measure by fourteenth-century egg tempera painting – I can spend hours in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing – and more contemporary painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’m definitely quite traditional in my approach though, and spend a lot of time apologising for being a bit passé!
Your work is incredibly detailed – do you work mainly from photographs?
Funnily enough, the less closely I work from photographs, the more detailed my work gets. When I first started painting, I used to rely on photos a lot more heavily; my paintings were much more realistic, though somehow also much sketchier. Since I’ve become more confident, I’ve also become more immersed in surface pattern and less concerned with realism. I often find myself working on a decorative passage of feathers and thinking, ‘all I’d need to do is blow this up and put it into repeat and it’d make such a great digital print!’
What drew you to working with/on old books? They are things of beauty in themselves – where do you find them all?
I first started working with old books when I was studying fashion and textiles at university. My mother and aunt were clearing out old stationary from my grandparent’s farm office. I salvaged it all and started to incorporate it into my work. My final collection sketchbook was an old family ledger, which I thought was empty. The whole collection was based on the First World War and its aftermath, and when I was in the final stages of the collection I realised that a few pages right at the back of the ledger had been used, and were dated 1917-18; it was a really affirming moment and felt a bit like someone from my family was sending me a message. I love the battered aesthetic of old books, there’s something so tactile and appealing about them. I get a lot of them sent over from America now, but when I can, I love to hunt round car boots and flea markets.
Regarding your working process – do the backgrounds inspire the particular bird?
The books themselves have a huge influence on what I paint on them. I think the process of deciding what to paint on a particular book is the point at which my textile training has the biggest impact. Each painting has a colour story, and the books become like fabrics, they have their own personalities and it’s really important to work intuitively with their individual characteristics.
I love painting the birds’ heads – for me it’s where all the personality lies. I’ve done a series of “portrait close ups” for the new show and I’m really pleased with them. That first bit, when you’ve done maybe just the beak and the eye, is when you’ve got the most energy and excitement for a painting and you’re making all the big decisions about colour and form. It’s a great place to be. The worst bit of any painting is “the ugly phase”… I usually paint onto dark surfaces, and have to create a white base first, in the silhouette of the bird. There’s always a brief period before the painting’s started to take shape when it looks absolutely dreadful!
You are concentrating now on your career as a painter, but do you feel you may return to textiles in the future?
I’m definitely planning on working with fabrics again. I’m also fired up about learning to make shoes, and want to produce a collection of small-scale prints that would work in this format. It’s got to the point where I literally go to bed and dream about printed leather – I’ve got so much raw visual material buzzing round my head, so much inspiration from my paintings, that I can’t wait until I have time to start designing. It’s going to be exciting to take the paintings that have been the focus of my life for such a long time and do something completely different with them.
Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
I’m writing a lot, which is something I’ve always done, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. Perhaps most excitingly of all though, I’m at the very early stages of realising a long-held dream, and I’m learning how to make shoes. I’ve wanted to do it for so long that I’m bubbling over with excitement about it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking forward to the point when things have settled down and I’m still painting enough to make a living, but also have more freedom to do other things, like write and get back into textile design. I’m really starting to crave a bit of variety now.
Looking back – is there a significant moment in your career development that stands out?
Other than my solo show selling out at the private view, which was a bit surreal, I think Texprint really was the major highlight of my career development so far. I was at New Designers when I got the phone call saying I’d been selected and I honestly nearly fell down the stairs with excitement. I think the best thing for me about Texprint was that Grayson Perry, who is one of my absolute heroes, was a judge. As someone who’s work traverses fine art and textiles, he was heaven sent, and finding out he’d selected me as the winner of the Interior Textiles prize was one of the happiest moments of my life. I gained so much confidence and self-awareness from Texprint, and I’m hugely grateful for that experience.
Advice for those about to graduate this year?
Don’t worry if your work seems different from other graduates– my portfolio stuck out like a sore thumb and I felt like a rackety art student compared to the professionalism of everyone else, but I think that actually stood me in good stead in the end. If you get negative feedback, like I did from the man who told me I’d never make any money because I was an artist not a designer, don’t be disheartened: hidden in that feedback there might be a really good bit of advice. Don’t be rigid, and be prepared to do stuff that wasn’t quite what you had in mind; you honestly never know where it’s going to end up.
The most important thing though is to enjoy the whole process of graduating – New Designers, Graduate Fashion Week, job interviews – talk to people and have fun; people respond really well to enthusiasm, and I really believe that conveying your love of what you do is almost as important as the work itself.
2009: Nancy with Interiors prize judge Grayson Perry
Texprint 2013 Selection Interviews: how, why, who and what
23 July 2013 by Editor
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
Texprint 2013: meet the judges, Deanne Schweitzer of Lululemon
18 July 2013 by
Deanne Schweitzer is the SVP of Design and Creation at Lululemon Athletica. The yoga-inspired activewear brand is both a Texprint Foundation Sponsor as well as a Prize Sponsor: Deanne will select one Texprint designer from a short list including Gillian Louise Murphy (Glasgow School of Art), Pepe Lowe (Chelsea College of Art), Luise Martin (Royal College of Art and previously Ecole Duperré, Paris), Cherica Haye (RCA and previously Central St Martins) and Florence Angelica Colson (Leeds College of Art) as the recipient of this year’s Lululemon Athletica Award, which includes a prize of £1,000 plus a three-month paid internship at the brand’s headquarters in Vancouver.
Lululemon was founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson; and the first retail store opened in 2000 in picturesque Kitsilano, Vancouver, and shared its space with a yoga studio. Today the technologically advanced sportswear is sold worldwide online and through its 211stores. The sense of community at the heart of the brand is propelled by in-store yoga classes and by brand ambassadors who spread the Lululemon lifestyle throughout their local communities.
How did you come to join Lululemon, please tell us about your role?
13 years ago I was the store manager of the first ever Lululemon store and I’m still working here! Then the head office was located on the store’s top floor, and my colleagues would always find me upstairs giving feedback on what was and wasn’t working! Even though I didn’t have a design background, Lululemon could tell I was very passionate about the brand and I became the head of the product team. Today I am the SVP of Design and Creation, so I’m in charge of the whole creation side of products and this involves the design team, the merchandising team, raw materials and garment development.
Do you enjoy living in Vancouver?
Vancouver is unique, it’s a very metropolitan city with great restaurants and culture, it’s also located right next to the ocean and a 45 minute drive away are some of the world’s best skiing and hiking mountains. There aren’t many places in the world where you can do all three in one day. We absolutely love sushi here; my family and I eat it at least twice a week. I think we own the market in sushi.
Deanne with her daughter in New York
Do you do yoga in the office?
When we were building the brand we often had our meetings in yoga studios, on hikes or on runs. So I think we attracted people that were excited by that lifestyle. It’s important for our staff to do yoga, we support our staff in taking two weekly sessions at nearby studios and we have a studio in our head office.
Do you plan to open any stores in London / the UK? I can see you have a few Lululemon showrooms in London, what goes on there?
When we open a showroom somewhere we are showing that we ultimately want to open a store there. We are planning on opening a store in London in the very near future and we regularly open in key areas that attract athletic, active and (hopefully) stylish guests.
This will be the second year of the Lululemon Texprint Award, how did you find working with Texprint alumni Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves in the studio?
Unbelievable, they were such a pleasure to have. I think they were both really grateful for the experience so it really was a win-win situation. Having one designer from a weave background and another coming from print was a great balance and brought different perspectives into the print team which we loved. Sophie had such a good experience working with us that she is now applying to work in the Lululemon London showroom.
Lululemon’s manifesto is full of inspirational mottos such as ‘what you do to the earth, you do to yourself’. What responsibility do you think textile designers have in using environmentally-friendly textiles and techniques?
It’s really important to design something that will live in somebody’s wardrobe for a long time. I’m not a big believer in fast fashion or buying something that will end up in the garbage heap in 12 months’ time.
Lululemon has been at the forefront of technologically advanced textiles. What should we expect to see next?
Well I think the biggest trend for us now is smart textiles, technological advances mean that we are asking our apparel to do a lot more for us. We are really excited about apparel that can take somebody from day to night seamlessly.
How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers?
Some new designers come out of school and enter companies where they might get stifled. The Lululemon organisation makes sure to put designers into a position to be listened to and to have an impact. We are very open to be shown new ways of doing things - we are open to fresh new ideas. I truly believe that they are the voice of the future.
Deanne talking with knit designer Gillian Louise Murphy
Judging panel, from left: designer Madeleine Press, Emma Kidd of Selfridges, Deanne, and style journalist Tamsin Blanchard
All the designers with the judges
Texprint 2013 Awards: short listed designers announced
12 July 2013 by Editor
Speaking of the Texprint London judging and mentoring event (held at Triangle building, Chelsea College of Art & Design, 9-11 July 2013) of the 24 graduates selected for Texprint 2013, Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington says: “Comments from sponsors, press and industry guests have been overwhelmingly positive; given the pressure young designers are under, their boundless creativity never ceases to impress. There is already great interest in their work - the industry knows these are the year’s elite and are keen to make contact.”
Judges in action: Tamsin Blanchard, Deanne Schweitzer (in background)
At the event a panel of leading designers and influencers in fashion and design - journalist Tamsin Blanchard; designer Madeleine Press; Luigi Turconi from sponsor Ratti; Emma Kidd, creative researcher at Selfridges; and SVP creation at Lululemon Athletica Deanne Schweitzer - reviewed the work of this year's 24 designers and chose the short list of nominees for the four special prize categories:
Body - Pepe Lowe (Chelsea), Kazusa Takamura (Chelsea), Alice Archer (RCA and previously Goldsmiths College)
Space - Paul Roberts (Loughborough University), Heather JY Cheung (Heriot-Watt University) and Ffion Griffith (Chelsea)
Colour - Danni Fairchild (Central St Martins), Taslima Sultana (Central St Martins) and Gillian Louise Murphy (Glasgow School of Art)
Pattern - Elizabeth Ashdown (Central St Martins), Danni Fairchild (Central St Martins) and Cherica Haye (RCA and previously Central St Martins)
©Alice Archer, nominated for Body prize
©Elizabeth Ashdown, nominated for Pattern prize
©Heather JY Cheung, nominated for Space prize
©Danni Fairchild, nominated for Colour and Pattern prizes
©Ffion Griffith, nominated for Space prize
©Cherica Haye, nominated for Pattern prize
©Pepe Lowe, nominated for Body prize
©Gillian Louise Murphy, nominated for Colour prize
©Paul Roberts, nominated for Space prize
©Taslima Sultana, nominated for Colour prize
©Kazusa Takamura, nominated for Body prize
A further designer will be chosen from a short list including Gillian Louise Murphy, Pepe Lowe, Luise Martin (RCA and previously Ecole Duperré, Paris), Cherica Haye and Florence Angelica Colson (Leeds College of Art) to receive the Lululemon Texprint Award. In its second year, the award is sponsored by the activewear company Lululemon Athletica - the winner will be chosen by Deanne Schweitzer, and will receive a prize of £1,000 and a three-month paid internship at Lululemon headquarters in Vancouver, Canada.
The Selection Process 2013 - judge Tamsin Blanchard
08 July 2013 by
Tamsin Blanchard’s remit as Style Director of the Telegraph Magazine is as broad as she likes to make it, from following Joanna Lumley across the slums of Kenya to see what happens to Oxfam donated clothes, to visiting Louis Vuitton's state of the art shoe factory in Fiesso d’Artico, Italy.
Her career started at the Independent in 1991, where after a few years she became fashion editor, “I was very privileged to have been given the opportunity at the Independent to work my way up from the cupboard to the front row at the shows.” Tamsin followed this with a long stint, 1998-2005, as Style Editor at the Observer Magazine, where she wrote and edited the interiors section, fashion features and interviews for the magazine, joining the Telegraph Magazine as Style Director in 2005.
Left: Tamsin Blanchard / Photo: Zac Frackelton
What is your favourite fashion memory?
It has to be interviewing Issey Miyake in Tokyo for the Observer Magazine in the mid-1990s. He was such a generous, unpretentious, genuinely creative man. I arrived at the interview feeling quite intimidated to be meeting one of my fashion heroes - I remember being amazed by the way his geometric flat circles of cloth transformed into incredible 3D shapes and blocks of colour on the catwalk. I was finally allowed to go into his office to meet him and he offered me a glass of whiskey and I knew we were going to get on. After the interview, we saw his show for his innovative new concept called A-POC and then went for one of the most memorable meals sitting on the floor of a restaurant that I knew I would never find again.
How has fashion and design journalism changed since you started?
It is very difficult for underground trends and subcultures to remain underground for more than a day now, in a way that in the 1980s and1990s, subcultures could develop and thrive for months if not years before the mainstream media picked up on them. Now, anyone can become a fashion blogger, and the bloggers themselves have become the story to some extent. However, there is a massive difference between having knowledge and experience in your subject and simply photographing yourself in an outfit you've been given.
Can you tell us what will you be particularly looking out for as a Texprint 2013 judge?
As a judge, I will be looking for something that is innovative, has a unique view point, and a strong resonance, visually and possibly, emotionally.
How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers?
It is really important for me because they are part of the creative lifeblood of the design industry. Textiles are where it all begins for many fashion designers. Increasingly, I see fashion collections that are all about print or texture. With the new generation of designers including Louise Gray, Holly Fulton, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, it is difficult to separate the textiles from the fashion - they are part and parcel of the whole collection.
Do you think people are taking more interest in what goes into their clothes and the creative forces behind them?
I really believe that consumers will have an increased interest in the provenance of their clothes. Nobody wants their clothes to be made in unsafe factories or by people who are exploited for their labour. There will be an increased demand for information about where a garment was made and a more transparent production process.
Since writing my book Green is the new Black (2005), issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility have become an important part of running a fashion company. Companies like Marks & Spencer are making sustainability part of the way they run their business. Recently, I wrote about Bruno Pieters' company Honestby which gives the consumer a detailed breakdown of where their garment was made, who made it, how much it cost to make and how much the mark up is.
The Texprint programme selects designers who have trained in UK art and design schools. Why is the UK art school system so good at producing design talent?
It is unique because it understands the importance of creativity and gives students a certain amount of freedom and independence to develop their own style.
This year Texprint is introducing a new Hero Mentoring scheme. How important is having that experience when starting as a professional? What advice did you receive at the start of your career that you can pass on?
I interned as part of my industrial year out from CSM and in fact, was offered a job while interning at the Independent and didn't complete my degree. I think work experience is an essential part of learning about your chosen pathway - there is nothing quite like learning on the job. I had various internships, at Wire, Marie Claire, the Guardian where I helped edit the women's pages for a week (an amazing opportunity, working with the women’s editor Louise Chunn), and was extremely lucky at the Independent to have the opportunity to go to the shows - usually to courier film back to London in the days when photographers still shot on film.
I had two great mentors: Lisa Armstrong who gave me my first job, and Marion Hume, who took over from Lisa as fashion editor and took me to the shows in Paris, Milan and New York. The Independent taught me the importance of having journalistic integrity - something that is sadly all too often overlooked these days.
The best thing anyone can do is see and absorb as much as you can - it’s all about seeing, not being seen!
Texprint talks: Julie Harris, CEO of WGSN
04 July 2013 by
As a Foundation Sponsor of the Texprint programme, WGSN, the world’s leading trend forecaster of fashion and design, is committed to supporting the next generation of textile design talent.
Speaking from the company’s sleek headquarters near Piccadilly Circus, London, WGSN’s CEO Julie Harris explains the reasoning behind its three-year pledge of patronage: “Supporting designers everywhere is hugely important to us. We’re passionate about it. It’s an easy decision to make to support new talent, as ultimately they will become our customers of the future, or become employees, we are supporting our own business and the industry.”
Julie joined WGSN in 2007 as managing director of WGSN APAC and prior to this was managing director of Hachette Filipacchi and previously a commercial director of EMAP’s consumer division.
Julie says she is in no doubt as to why in lean times some companies might pull in their horns when reviewing budgets. But she says stridently: “If we believe in the fashion industry and the industry as a whole, we have to believe it is incumbent on all of us that we have to put our hands in our purses to help support it. It is the responsibility of businesses like ours, whether it is retailers or brands, to invest in upcoming talent. If we don’t, that craftsmanship, that talent and that ability will die and that will make all our businesses poorer as a result.”
Since launching in 1998, WGSN has become the by word for online trend information for the fashion and style industry. Today, it has over 38,000 users across 87 countries. Its subscribers work in all links of the supply chain: raw materials, brands and retailers, mostly in the apparel markets, as well as non-fashion users such as mobile phone and automotive companies and a growing number in the interiors market. And four years ago it launched the WGSN Global Fashion Awards which represents the full breadth of the industry from luxury fashion to mass-market, taking in emerging and student designers along the way.
WGSN has over 300 editorial and design team members and offices in 21 countries providing deep and wide-ranging coverage: a mix of forecasting and reportage. Julie explains: “We call it bubble up trickle down, we have a robust methodology around our trend forecasting, it is part science part magic. We look at the key themes, what consumers are doing, we look at art, music, festivals, architecture, what’s going on economically, what’s happening in different geographies, all of that gets funnelled into a big melting pot. And out of that we surface our key themes and trends.”
Combined with this there is also regional trend information, what’s happening on the streets, celebrities, TV and more. Julie continues: “A whole bunch of things are happening right here and now that will affect retail tomorrow. We’re famous for our trend forecasting and our catwalk coverage, and more and more we are looking at what’s happening in-store today, we’re looking at the analytics side of retail, how ranges are being put together, what this means for our customers and their competitive set. What’s happening down the catwalk: are stripes up, is green out? Hard data that combines with the soft information that we’re well-known for, it’s a complex matrix of different information that surfaces at different points in the product lifecycle. Different customer types have different uses for the information.”
The reporting team is made up of industry professionals offering real insight into their market niches. Each year, WGSN runs extensive coverage of the Texprint programme’s 24 designers. WGSN’s head of materials and knit Helen Palmer is a knitwear and yarn expert with over 17 years' experience in design, product development and trend forecasting. She says: “We associate ourselves with projects we feel strongly about: Texprint is a showcase of the top creative textile graduates of the year and the candidate caliber is consistently high.”
WGSN global colour team (centre: in grey, Helen Palmer, Head of Materials & Knitwear; right: Fiona Coleman, Global Head of Colour)
Helen is a regular participant in the Texprint selection process, giving her time to help pick the best 24 out of over 200 candidates put forward by their colleges. “I can see a lot of benefits in the whole process. For the people who don’t make the final selection, the interview gives them food for thought to develop their work. We give quite honest feedback and sometimes challenge them to think about their work in a different way, to put it into perspective away from the college’s house style or the influence of a particular tutor.”
Helen and her team maintain a dialogue with education and work closely with key textile design courses including Brighton University, Central St Martins and Nottingham Trent University on product development projects which go into the forecasting reports, as well as sponsoring placements and taking fledgling designers out to view industry exhibitions.
In Helen’s view, Texprint’s selection panelists pick the most diverse and interesting new graduate designers. “It’s such a great project, it’s a door into creativity, we enjoy the engagement, it adds to our understanding of the creative process.”
She continues: “The criteria is that Texprint is a showcase for selling and the designers have to have viable products commercially.”
Back to Julie, with your commercial head on, is it important for designers to have commercial nous as well as design talent? “Yes, unequivocally! It’s very interesting to listen to a designer like Mary Katrantzou, she talks very well about learning the business. You can be an amazing designer but not sell a thing. It’s a tough commercial world out there and at the end of the day it’s got to sell.”
Jane Coffey: passing on her studio-building experience
20 June 2013 by Editor
Working on the assumption that learning from someone else’s experience can both fast track success and help avoid costly mistakes, Texprint is piloting a new Hero Mentor initiative in 2013. This informal scheme will link successful Texprint alumni with those Texprint 2013 designers who wish to work freelance or establish their own businesses.
One shining example of a successful textile-based business is screen printer Jane Coffey. Sadly Jane won’t be participating in the Hero Mentor scheme as for some years now she has lived in Australia!
Jane graduated from the RCA and was selected for Texprint in 1999. She says: “Being selected for Texprint took me by surprise, it was such an amazing opportunity to show my work at Indigo. Now as a business owner I look back and realise that due to inexperience I probably didn't fully maximise the opportunity. So my message to all Texprint designers is to work hard and develop your portfolio of work because if successful at Indigo the contacts made can really help in launching your own studio.”
What happened next?
When I left the Royal College of Art I had a lot of money to pay back! My first job was with a CAD/CAM textile company (now Lectra) where I learnt how to use software and drew illustrations of clothing and accessories for Burberry - dog coats and lots of checks! As it turns out I loved working with technology and ended up teaching other designers how to use the CAD systems, taking my new skills into different workplaces and meeting many different designers - invaluable later for my own business where knowledge of digital printers and systems became really important.
I then worked as a designer for Peagreen Studio who exhibit and sell at Indigo and other trade shows.
However I always hankered after running my own business. I met my husband Adam, an engineer, in Winchester and we moved to Australia in 2005. There weren't many design companies in Perth so we decided to set up our own – our first studio was called Little Design Horse. Australia has grants for export development and we travelled around the world selling our design work.
We always wanted to create our own products so we gradually started buying machines. Every year a certain amount of profit from selling textile design went into buying new equipment. Our first was a 4-colour rotary screen printer for printing T-shirts – as our studio had a shop space at the front, so we opened the doors and started selling T-shirts that we'd printed (in the garage!). We had our first child in 2008 and that prompted us to start making more of our own products and we've never looked back.
Exhibiting and selling our products at local markets was a really important step for us and helped us find our customers. The website came later.
In the UK we're noting a move towards smaller designer/makers buying machinery and setting up their own businesses. Is this a because of the web, that it's now easier to become an e-tailer rather than suffer rent costs? Is it about independence and flexibility? Is it about provenance and customers wanting local product?
Yes to all these points. What I would point out though is that while the web allows you to sell overseas more easily, never underestimate your local market. Over time we've come to realise that we have a strong local following and these are the really important people. As is being inspired by what's around you. People like to buy something that makes them feel proud of where they live or to show off where they have visited. Selling independently means you don't have to follow trends or answer to big department stores. That's a huge freedom that you have to take advantage of.
As for retail costs, our shop/workshop Future Shelter is under one roof so is more economical. We made the move from textile studio to retailer very slowly over four years allowing time for our shop to be discovered without solely relying on a retail income. We have a bench behind the counter where we make or package products while the customer decides to buy - customers actually love this and it means our overheads are lower.
What is your set up in the studio?
In our workshop we currently have a large format digital printer, 4-colour rotary T-shirt press and screen printing facilities, a laser cutter, industrial sewing machines, a woodworking section with lots of tools big and small including a CNC cutter, and many custom built machines to make different products such as the coasters. Our latest machine is a digital ceramic decal printer and a kiln. I’m so lucky that Adam is an engineer who loves to work with all these things!
What are the difficulties you've encountered - what are the pluses?
The big plus is that I have my dream set up. We love the design and manufacturing sides, and bringing these under one roof allows us to learn about waste and test products in small batches before committing to bigger runs. This means we can be more experimental with design and not be frozen by feeling the need to follow the current trend.
Our main difficulties have been with outsourcing sewing or sometimes finding the ideal raw materials. Other difficulties have been keeping up with demand. We have purposely kept marketing to a minimum to allow us to grow slowly. This has been a really important as even with this idea of 'slow cooking' a brand and letting it naturally grow, we have a crunch time around Christmas getting orders out the door in time.
Scaling up too quickly can be a big problem if you don't plan it properly. We are right on the borderline of needed a bigger industrial space which means leasing two spaces, one retail and one industrial. Having a spilt site means needing more staff to cover the shop and production, finding the right space at the right price near public transport for your staff etc. So our next move will be a big one – and that has to be timed just right!
Another big difficulty has to be running your business with a small family - it's not easy juggling everything. I have a portable workspace in my sketchbook!
Many thanks Jane, and finally, what does the future hold?
We do a small amount of commission work for architects and private homes which is fun, so who knows where that will take us.
We need a bigger workshop and ultimately we’d like to build a workshop with a residence above or nearby - oh, and a fabric printer would complete our array of machines very nicely!
Texprint talks: Gilles Lasbordes, MD of Première Vision
17 June 2013 by
Gilles Lasbordes is the managing director of Première Vision S.A., the leading international textile and fabric show, otherwise known as PV. Première Vision was established in 1973 as a group presentation by 15 Lyonnais silk weavers. Today the Paris-based exhibition is the corner stone of Première Vision Pluriel, the group of six shows – Première Vision, Expofil, Indigo, Modamont, Le Cuir à Paris and Zoom by Fatex - that service the fashion industry from fibre to leather, accessories, textile designs and fabrics. With over 1,900 international exhibitors, the show group brings together 58,000 fashion industry professionals in Paris twice a year.
Each September, through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, the 24 selected Texprint designers are given the opportunity to have their own exhibition stands at Indigo, the show of original textile and surface design. And the event also hosts the Texprint prize giving ceremony. Gilles is passionate about supporting and nurturing young design talent as he tells Texprint:
Congratulations on your recent promotion. Can you tell us about your new role?
I started working for Première Vision in 2004 and I recently became the managing director of the Première Vision group. My role involves strategic and operational management, I am closely involved with our ongoing worldwide events – in total we have 24 shows per year. I am more directly involved with the Indigo (Paris, New York, Brussels), Modamont and Expofil shows and many back office activities that make our events a reality.
Left: Gilles Lasbordes
Paris looks like a beautiful place to live – good food, gorgeous architecture and a rich culture - what is a typical day like for you?
There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. When I am not travelling, I often have meetings to discuss and prepare the upcoming exhibitions whether they are one month or up to a year in the future. But I do have a motorbike which I ride everyday – I love travelling around Paris, seeing the beautiful architecture and monuments.
Première Vision has exhibitions in New York, Sao Paulo, Brussels, Moscow and Shanghai as well as Paris, and you hold exhibitor meetings around the world, how often do you travel on business, what do you enjoy about it and what are your favourite places to visit?
I travel a lot because we are an international company and Paris is an international show not only from the exhibitors’ point of view but also from the visitors’ point of view. I really don’t have a favourite place to visit. Every country I visit is different, each city is very diverse and what I love is seeing the diversity of the fashion industry. Also now with globalisation brands have become global, but I enjoy seeing local brands as they make the market more interesting and diverse.
The exhibitions Première Vision, Modamont and Indigo have direct links with and support three organisations that nurture new design talent. Can you tell us why you have made this an integral part of your activities?
Première Vision, Expofil and Modamont all focus on the creative part of the fashion industry - we are not a trade show for commodities. When you are a trade show organiser and your event represents an industry on such a large scale, you have to support the industry you work for. Whether they will work for textile or fashion companies, we believe that graduate designers are the future of our industry. We support the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, International Talent Support and Texprint because we want to help a new generation of creators to emerge. We want to help that generation to maintain a highly creative fashion industry in the future. Texprint is very textile-oriented so we share the same roots, textiles is what Première Vision is made of.
Nearly half of Indigo’s exhibitors are based in / trained in Britain. What is it about the UK’s art school system that produces so many creative talents?
Well from my point of view, UK art and design schools have a good balance between being creative and being market-oriented. This understanding of the industry, the mix of high creativity and business, is what companies are expecting from their new employees.
What does the addition of the Texprint group in September add to the mix of studios at Indigo?
At Indigo studios present their own culture, DNA and artistic direction. The Texprint designers give us boundless creativity and innovation, it is our R&D. They often present something new and innovative, for example, in the way they mix various innovative textile techniques such as print and embroidery, print and knitted garments or 3D textiles with unusual raw materials.
Being able to show their designs at Indigo is a really exciting opportunity for the 24 graduate designers; do you have any advice for this year’s Texprint’s group?
I’m hoping to see lots of successful sales and so the designers need to be prepared to negotiate! They should have an idea of prices and also network to make useful connections at Indigo. The designers have to be ready to meet with professionals and act in a professional manner. But I know that they are very well trained by the Texprint team and when they come to Paris they will definitely be ready to make the most of this opportunity.
Trend Forum at Première Vision
The Selection Process 2013 – judge Damian Shaw
12 June 2013 by
Please note: Due to unforeseen work commitments Damian Shaw was unable to judge Texprint 2013. The role of a merchandising director requires an extensive knowledge of a brand’s DNA – thinking about how best to translate an aesthetic for a globally diverse clientele. Damian Shaw is currently championing that task for McQ at Alexander McQueen, one of fashion’s most prominent luxury brands. On 9 July, 2013, he will join four other fashion industry experts to select special prize-winners for Body, Space, Pattern and Colour among the 24 chosen Texprint designers.
Damian Shaw / Images of McQ autumn winter 2013 collection: Style.com
Proving that an eye for style is often a small portion of the creative talent behind most in the fashion world, many may be surprised to know that Damian completed a degree at the Royal College of Music in classical piano performance before deciding to move into the world of fashion. His passion first took him to Liberty of London where he served as a buyer for nine years until moving onto become the merchandise and marketing director for the international ready-to-wear line at Chloé in 2003. After a brief stint in the same position at Julien Macdonald, Damian found his way to McQ in April 2011.
Damian views textiles from a commercial point of view, which involves examining not only the physical properties such as structure and colour, but also every aspect of its commercial potential including wearability and desirability. He shares Texprint’s passion for promoting new growth within the textile sector: “The industry runs on fresh talent. It’s important to nurture this symbiotic relationship by supporting the new generation of designers. Both sides have a lot to learn from each other – designers gain practical experience while the industry gets a fresh burst of new talent and a renewed perspective.”
Seeing as the Alexander McQueen label, and consequently McQ, has been built on design ideals that glorify a union of innovation and extreme aesthetics, it’s no wonder that Damian is enthusiastic about the circulation of new blood within the industry. Young talent often needs a platform and some support along the road to becoming the leaders of tomorrow. The company has a history of providing designers with life-changing support – Lee McQueen was helped early on by mentor Isabella Blow. Even current creative director Sarah Burton was once an intern before becoming the protégé of the late McQueen. Damian affirms that “it’s vital for those of us in the industry to pass on as much information as possible to the next generation of design talent here in the UK”.
The Selection Process 2013 – judge Marios Schwab
20 May 2013 by
Please note: Due to unforeseen work commitments Marios Schwab was unable to judge Texprint 2013. Who better to select Texprint’s emerging designers of the future than Marios Schwab, one the UK’s own rising stars of fashion? His intelligent collections have not only ensnared the attention of key players in the industry, he has amassed a celebrity following that includes the likes of Clémence Poséy, Chloë Sevigny and Jessica Chastain. Marios’s cutting edge designs are praise for their astute attention to cut and detail – both of which he says can be led and even inspired by innovative textiles.
Marios Schwab: spring summer 2013 collection
A 2003 graduate of Central Saint Martins, the Greek-Austrian designer finds London “an eclectic and inspiring city to work and live in” while building his eponymous label. After all, it was here that he received his mentoring from CSM legend Louise Wilson before being taken under the wing of the Fashion East initiative which helped launch his first two collections at London Fashion Week. In 2007, Marios gained acclaim after he pushed the boundaries with his first solo collection at LFW. His London successes led to him being appointed the creative director for the iconic American brand Halston, revived from one of the most popular international fashion brands of the 1970s. More recently he has collaborated with Swarovski Elements and sunglasses brand Mykita, and in 2012 he was nominated for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. Bringing his designs to a high-street audience, in 2007 he designed a capsule collection for Topshop and in 2012 he launched his first of four collections for Debenhams.
Marios Schwab: autumn winter 2013 collection
The designer still remains one of the UK’s brightest talents and he attributes much of his success to the help that he received as a young designer. Marios is eager to return some of the career assistance that he was once given: “The support Texprint offers to the next generation of textile designers will shape them and guide them within their careers. It’s vital to keep the tradition of textile innovation alive in the UK – building on the rich heritage and expertise of the industry while ensuring it looks to the future.”
Marios’s choice of fabric is often a point of inspiration: “I like to push myself – incorporating new technological developments in cloths and combining them with traditional crafts such as lace-making to create an original Marios Schwab design.”
He encourages those starting out to constantly challenge their designs, be honest self-critics and, most importantly, hold on to determination, because “desire shines through”.