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The Campaign for Wool launches student design competition


The Campaign for Wool’s Wool Week launches this year with the return of its Student Design Competition. 2020’s year-long competition brings together leading brands and retailers with Universities across the UK, who challenged students to create an innovative and exciting product made out of wool. Brands had the opportunity to choose their favourite product, with some offering winning items for sale in stores, or student work placements.

Students from universities across the UK took part in the competition, pioneered by the His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool, after realising that the use of wool was not commonly taught in many syllabuses. This versatile, sustainable and renewable fibre offered a new challenge to students – who were linked up with a relevant brand across the knitwear, tailoring or interiors sectors to create items.
Brand challenges included Marks & Spencer asking students to create capsule tailoring and knitwear pieces; an innovative pair of socks using repurposed and recycled fibre for Finisterre; a limited edition jumper inspired by British heritage and the outer Hebrides for Brora; a cloth for a three piece Hackett suit inspired by British Heritage tweed and Autumnal heathers; Anderson & Sheppard invited students to create an overcoat inspired by the architecture of London’s South Bank; a cloth for Holland & Sherry to use for interior furnishing and drapes; a contemporary patterned rug for Floor Story; a new design and colourway of Harris Tweed Hebrides cloth for a Blackhouse chair; knitwear for Celtic & Co.; a new pattern for a unisex John Smedley jumper and a new design for a Margo Selby interior and accessory cloth that collaborated with Alternative Flooring for a carpet runner.

Peter Ackroyd, COO of The Campaign for Wool, said: “The Student Design Competition is an ideal opportunity for the worlds of textile and fashion education to connect with industry in a series of collaborations that showcase the environmental credentials and diverse applications of wool in lifestyle and fashion. By creating these partnership opportunities with leading brands, the students are able to add a strong commercial dimension to their course work in preparation for careers in the industry. I’m delighted to hear selected students have been offered placements with participating fashion houses following graduation.”

With support from the retail and brand partners, the Student Design Competition does not end with the Wool Week winners’ announcements. From the student entries received twelve products were chosen to win – with Limited Edition pieces set to be sold including an Outer Hebrides-inspired bright jumper at Brora, a jacquard-knit jumper at John Smedley and a relaxed-comfort jumper at Celtic & Co. The Floor Story rug, exclusively limited to 10 pieces, and Alternative Flooring carpet runner, plus Margo Selby interior cloth and cushion accessories, Holland & Sherry interior cloth, and Blackhouse chair are all available to purchase on request. Limited Edition cloth and bespoke tailoring is available at both Anderson & Sheppard and Hackett. Student placements were offered to their winning students by Marks & Spencer, John Smedley and Margo Selby, and Finisterre propose to produce the socks in their AW2021 collection.

Winning students were Louisa Knapp from Huddersfield University for the creation of a design for Alternative Flooring carpet and Margo Selby interior fabric; Abigail Weston from Central Saint Martins for a Floor Story rug; Hannah Sosna from University of Westminster for a M&S mens capsule; Emma Herst from Huddersfield University for an Anderson & Sheppard/Abraham Moon & Sons overcoat cloth design; Ashira Mellor from Nottingham Trent for innovative-yarn Finisterre socks; Ruby Gardner from Glasgow School of Art won two; one for Blackhouse/Harris Tweed Hebrides cloth and also the Holland & Sherry interior cloth; Georgia Alligan from Derby University for a John Smedley jumper; Sandra Junele from Dundee University for a Brora jumper; Courtney Davies from Plymouth College of Art for a Celtic & Co jumper and Alice Milivoyevich from Heriot Watt University for a Hackett/Lovat Mill suiting cloth. With the high standard of designs entered some brands found it difficult to select a winner and that has resulted with a number of runners-up worthy of mention; Steven Stokey-Daley, M&S; Anna Smith who was twice runner-up Blackhouse and Holland & Sherry; Jennifer Long, Anderson & Sheppard; Kaitlin Murdoch, Hackett; Alisia Damianou, Maddy Hann and Catherine Fletcher, John Smedley.

This year’s competition was a global endeavour with universities in New Zealand, Canada and South Africa also getting involved and designing innovative wool products, with winners and runner-up from Massey University, NZ; Lauryn Tipper, Mary Roberts and Georgie Holmes, George Brown College/OCAD University, Canada; Amanda Perumal, and Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion, SA; Johane Schulze. It also teamed up brands with a selection of industry partners who collaborated to create fabrics including Abraham Moon & Sons, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Botany
Weaving, Holland & Sherry Interiors and Lovat Mill.

Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of The Campaign for Wool said: “This student design competition is one of my favourite Campaign for Wool initiatives. I think it works for a host of good reasons. Firstly, it introduces the unique properties of wool as a fibre to student textile designers, sometimes for the very first time. And, having encountered wool, it often becomes a design habit.

“Secondly, students are introduced to top wool-using brands, and get a sense of how they operate and what they are like on the inside. Several students in past years’ competitions have ended up working for these brands, so it has been a happy result for all. Thirdly and finally, the competition is yet another way of reminding us all that wool, ahead of all alternatives, is the most versatile, natural and most ecologically friendly. The primacy of wool should be taught in every school, as well as at every fashion and textile college. We are so grateful to the brands for inviting the students into their businesses – carpet and rug designers, as well as fashion houses – and we applaud the students too for giving fleece a chance.”

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