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Texprint 2016: Notebook from London

7 July 2016 by Roger Tredre in Fashion, Home, Interiors & Auto, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

How events unfolded at Texprint London 2016 as designers, judges and industry guests gathered at Chelsea College of Arts.

The sun came out for Texprint’s London preview (July 6-7) at Chelsea College of Arts, reflecting the upbeat, optimistic collections on display. The mood was further uplifted by improvements at the venue – Chelsea’s Triangle Building, which has been recently remodelled to let in more natural light.

How are the designers for Texprint selected? Nearly 200 young names, all recently graduated from BA and MA textiles and textiles-related courses throughout the UK, were interviewed through June. From a 13-day marathon of interviews led by Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre, 24 names were chosen. Helen Howe, an American designer among those selected by Texprint, studied Knitted Textiles at London’s Royal College of Art. “It’s incredibly flattering to be part of this, to have so many people rooting for you,” she said. “It’s a really special experience – we don’t have this in America!”

Designers selected for Texprint 2016

It’s a big jump for many of the young designers. One week, they’re wrapping up their college work. The next, they’re preparing to meet the industry elite in London, and then sell their designs to the world in Paris. Suddenly, they need to brush up on invoicing and copyright law. They also need to refine and focus their designs, which are no longer referred to as student projects – they are, of course, “collections”.

Individual resilience and marketing acumen are talking points this year. In a fiercely competitive market, designers have to be able to explain and market their work effectively. Texprint judge Nadia Albertini noted: “We should be aware of where the industry is going now. The new world of ‘See Now Buy Now’. I’ve been looking at which of the designers are on social media and using Instagram. These days, new designers need to be more flexible and open to collaborations.”

Judges Nadia Albertini, couture embroidery designer, and Fi Douglas, founder/designer Bluebellgray

Print designer Lydia Knight, 22, from Bath School of Art & Design, includes her Instagram address on her business card, which impressed visitors to Texprint. “I use Instagram as a platform to show my journey, from the photo research at the beginning through to the designs.”

Designer Lydia Knight talks with sponsors Debbie Buchan and Duncan Ross of AVA Cad Cam

Another talking point is the growing importance of digital skills. While hand drawn or painted expertise is rightly prized and valued, the modern textile designer needs to be digitally confident. Crimson Rose O’Shea, short-listed for the Texprint Pattern Award, evolved a two-step strategy in her own personal development, focusing on her hand-drawn skills during a BA at Central Saint Martins, then intensively improving her digital know-how with an MA at the Royal College of Art.

Philippa Prinsloo of John Lewis, talks with designer Lydia Knight

From the final 24 designers, a panel of distinguished judges selects the Texprint award winners in four categories: Fashion, Interiors, Colour, Pattern.  The shortlist was announced on the same day, but the winners are not revealed until Première Visionin Paris on September 13 (the Texprint designers exhibit at Première Vision Designs, which is located within the main PV).

Judge Andrew Croll, senior design recruiter for Nike Inc.

On July 5, the judges met in Chelsea’s Triangle Building to review the designers’ work. For each award category, the judges took it in turns to give their thoughts and highlight their favourites. Nadia Albertini, a couture embroiderer with an exceptional list of clients, had flown in from New York for the event, and led the way with her well-considered remarks. Then came Fi Douglas, founder of Glasgow’s bluebellgray, who was looking for passion and creative vision, speaking carefully to the designers to understand their creative thought processes. Also contributing their insights based on many years’ experience were Pip Jenkins, the brilliant head of design at John Smedley, and Andrew Croll, senior design recruiter for Nike, an enthusiastic believer in the importance of “proactive recruitment”.

Judge Pip Jenkins, head of design John Smedley 

Texprint’s Peter Ring-Lefevre said: “Print design is strong in general this year, with more designs for interiors coming through. Embellishment and mixed media are also impressive, with lots of different interpretations.”

On the following day, July 6, an early morning VIP breakfast included many of the sponsors and supporters who make Texprint happen. Esther Allen, marketing director of Liberty, said Texprint’s support for young designers exactly chimes with Liberty’s current direction. “We’re going back to our core DNA, championing design and uncovering exciting young talent.”

Liberty is in a special position to add value as both a manufacturer of its own products and a retail brand. “From design to buying, marketing and logistics, we can offer a well-rounded picture of how to take product to market,” Allen said.

Esther Allen and Polly Mason of Liberty Fabrics talk with designer Megan Clarke

Global forecasting giant WGSN is a foundation sponsor of Texprint. Helen Palmer, director of materials, textiles & knit, thought this year’s designers presented a good balance of skills. “I like the optimistic colour and exuberance in the prints. Beyond print, there is a focus on craft and storytelling. And mixed media is full of fantasy.”

For many of the designers at Texprint, the thought of selling their work at Première Vision was, until recently, indeed the stuff of fantasy.  But that fantasy is coming true ­– bring on September!

Designer Jacob Monk talks with sponsor Dominic Lowe of Sanderson Art in Industry Trust

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