Twenty-four of the UK’s leading textile students vied for the prestigious Woolmark Texprint Award, which was this year awarded to weaver Sophie Manners (front row, second from right). Photo: James McCauley.
In the UK, the Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool ran successfully for the second year attracting more entrants showing a wider variety of product.
The award, first launched to universities and colleges nationwide in 2010, recognises design excellence in fabrics created with 60 per cent or more Merino wool, whether presented as printed, woven, knitted and/or mixed media fabric.
Texprint promotes the UK’s most talented textile design students and has the support of industry professionals worldwide. Texprint provides a springboard into industry for the 24 talented designers who are selected each year and their first experience of exhibiting and selling their works alongside professional and established designers.
The Woolmark Texprint Award was judged and awarded in September at the ‘Indigo’ textile design speciality event – part of the Première Vision trade show in Paris. The Woolmark Company was one of 1867 exhibitors that participated in the three-day Première Vision event which attracted more than 46,000 visitors.
Première Vision is a strong supporter and advocate of Texprint which draws a strong industry following. This year the Woolmark Texprint Award was presented by esteemed trend forecaster Nelly Rodi along with consultant for The Woolmark Company and IWTO president Peter Ackroyd.
Ms Rodi reminded the audience of buyers, press and design professionals of her passion for nurturing young talent and her long-held admiration for the British design education system.
“British schools seem to take a much freer approach to educating their students, mixing different approaches such as photography, art and fashion, leaving the student to express himself, without imposed rule…freedom gives a lot of energy to fashion,” Ms Rodi said.
Mr Ackroyd emphasised The Woolmark Company’s focus on “education, education, education” and reiterated its desire to ensure that young designers are encouraged to work with wool, and to understand both its properties and its potential for fashion and interiors markets.
Weaver Sophie Manners was the worthy recipient of this year’s award which includes extensive training from The Woolmark Company on the benefits and uses of Merino wool.
The prize was judged by James E Sugden OBE, director of Johnstons of Elgin; James Dracup, group managing director of Johnstons of Elgin; and Masahiro Oono, textile design project manager of Japanese specialist wool weaver Nikke. Both companies have a long experience in creating fine wool fabrics for the luxury market and were exhibitors at Première Vision.
Mr Sugden said the judges selected Miss Manners because of her superb use of Merino wool in terms of the variety of weights used, technical excellence and the commerciality of her weave designs. She has a distinctive style and Mr Oono praised her tremendous imagination.
“Technically, her fabrics are well constructed and executed. There is a commerciality that can be translated into something saleable,” Mr Sugden said.
Miss Manners, a graduate from the Royal College of Art, said it was her love for experimentation which sparked an interest in wool as a fabric.
“I love experimenting with texture and wool can provide so many different tactile effects,” she said.
“I know that Woolmark is constantly pushing the boundaries of wool and I would love to find new ways to push fabric design even further. Wool is a really versatile fabric and I had a lot of fun experimenting with it and enjoying the hugely different effects I was able to produce with pure wool and blended fabrics.”