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Woolmark Texprint Award judge: James E Sugden OBE, director of Johnstons of Elgin

13 September 2012 by TexSelect in Sponsors, Judges & Champions

The Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool will once again recognise a Texprint designer who excels in the use of Merino wool in his or her fabric design. The winner will be chosen from this year’s 24 Texprint new graduate designers who will present their designs at Indigo, part of Première Vision Pluriel, Paris, September 19-21, 2012. Texprint and Woolmark are proud to introduce James E Sugden OBE, director of Johnstons of Elgin, who will be combining his seasoned opinion with fellow judge Masahiro Oono to pick this year’s winner.

In his 20 years at Johnstons of Elgin, Mr Sugden successfully developed the company’s worldwide reputation for woven and knitted fine cashmeres and woollens. It now counts the likes of Burberry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton as esteemed clientele. He currently applies his expertise to Johnstons’ knitwear mills in Hawick; continuing to cultivate the UK’s largest independent vertical woollen manufacturer. Mr Sugden was awarded a prestigious OBE in 2011 by HM The Queen for his contributions to the textile industry and is considered an international aficionado on luxury textile manufacturing.

Mr Sugden brings over 40 years’ textile manufacturing experience to the judging panel and is keen to support the next crop of British-trained design talent: “It’s important to nurture the immense amount of talent that the UK has to offer at the earliest stages of a designer’s career. Texprint gives them a platform that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise to internationalise their talents.”

A recent resurgence of UK-based manufacturing has been led by businesses looking to support well-made product. As the Johnstons customer moves away from low added-value products, they look for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd. Mr Sugden insists that “customisation is the key to differentiating product” and has ensured that Johnstons has the capacity and technology to cope with demand.

“The technology is there, but it’s the creative spirit that drives us forward,” he says. “If we don’t push the boundaries, the industry will never progress. That’s why we need young designers with conviction and the boldness of youth.”

The design talent coming from the art colleges here in the UK is revered worldwide and Mr Sugden believes that it’s crucial to help young designers find a platform for success. He hopes to find someone with “a focused perspective and a comprehensive knowledge of colour, weave and texture” to champion the Woolmark Texprint Award.   

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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