Texprint Council: new member Carlo Volpi
16 July 2017 by Roger Tredre in Alumni Stories, Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions
Texprint alumnus Carlo Volpi, the Italian knitwear designer, has joined the Texprint Council which meets twice yearly to monitor and review how the charity is performing against its aims and objectives. We talked to him about his career and memories of Texprint.
Every year Texprint invites one alumnus to present his work at the entrance to the Texprint London event. For 2017 – a year when Texprint designs have been full of creative, contemporary use of colour – there could have been no better choice than Carlo Volpi.
The Italian designer, who was a Texprint designer himself in 2012, loves vibrant clashes of colour, not to mention stitches and textures. There is a joyous, celebratory, yet subversive element to his work. Fashion needs more designers like Volpi: upbeat, exuberant, happy. Barbara Kennington, honorary chairman of Texprint, says: “Carlo is such an original talent. We’re delighted he brings his energy and passion to the Texprint Council.”
Vogue Italia raved about Volpi’s Autumn/Winter 17/18 collection, calling it “totally wild – a concentrate of youthful enthusiasm.” Volpi himself has breathed in the irreverent energy of London and turned it into something special. “My point of reference is irreverence. I am interested in the parameters we use to define what we consider attractive or ugly.”
Carlo Volpi – Autumn/Winter 2017-18 | Pitti Immagine Uomo
That is also expressed in his mix-it-up approach to construction, thinking nothing of combining traditional cable knit with heat-sealed polyurethane. For Volpi, rules are there to be broken.
Carlo Volpi Knitwear – Domestic Queen Collection, film by Josie Phillips
While Volpi has taken his own route, he advises young designers to think carefully before they start up alone. “It’s a million times harder. You have to be completely dedicated because you will be tested. There’s a view among some young designers in Britain that going it alone is like being a bohemian artist. The Italians are more workmanlike about it – they appreciate the importance of sales and marketing and business.”
Volpi has had brilliant press coverage, but he warns: “It’s great to get your name out there, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. It’s important not to forget that and to focus on building a business.”
Texprint back in 2012 was a whirlwind of networking for Volpi. “It was such a great experience. I was just out of college and Texprint kept me motivated. It helped me make contacts and meet people. And all the Texprint team were so nice and helpful.”
In an interview after leaving the Royal College of Art, he explained the pleasure of knitting: “I've always thought knitting is a magic process, a bit like alchemy, where you can create these amazing garments with one strand of yarn and a pair of sticks. Anybody who loves knit will tell you this discipline is very addictive – it occupies my thoughts all the time.”
Volpi was perhaps destined for a career in knitwear. He grew up near Florence surrounded by cones of yarn and knitting machines – his grandmothers both worked for a small knit factory. He initially studied textiles for a BA at Goldsmiths, University of London, then returned to education a few years later at the RCA.
Besides building his own label, he continues to collaborate with a number of leading brands, and is a consultant for the Research Area at Pitti Filati. An important milestone in his career came last year when Volpi won first prize in the prestigious Who Is On Next? Uomo competition, promoted by Vogue Italia and Pitti Immagine. The judges highlighted his “marked technical and innovative skill combined with a brilliant interpretation of Italian manufacturing traditions in a unique knitwear project with an international look.”
A succinct summary of Volpi’s talent – and the reason why he’s a true inspiration for the new generation of Texprint designers.