Yorkshire student designs award-winning cloth to last as long as Prince Charles’s favourite overcoat

When it comes to rewearing fashion, the Prince of Wales leads by example. Now his overcoat has inspired a Wool Week 2020 search for modern fabrics that will last a lifetime. Stephanie Smith reports.

Prince Charles wearing the coat made for him in the 1970s by Anderson & Sheppard, during a visit in December last year to Fishlake, in South Yorkshire, which was hit by floods. Nigel Roddis/PA Wire

A University of Huddersfield student has won a prestigious Wool Week design competition to create a coat inspired by the trusty tweed overcoat that Prince Charles has been wearing for five decades.

It was designed for him in the 1970s by Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, holders of the Prince of Wales’s Royal Warrant for tailoring services. He has worn it many, many times over the years and continues to wear it to this day on chilly Royal visits.

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Prince Charles is patron and staunch supporter of the Campaign for Wool, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a Wool Week 2020 competition for textile and design students to create innovative fashion and furnishings products using wool, working with renowned manufacturers, designers and retailers.

The cloth was designed by University of Huddersfield Textile Design student Emma Herst, and made by Abraham Moon and Sons.

Founded in 1906, Anderson & Sheppard has dressed stars including Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant and is considered the master of the “English drape” style, cut full over the chest for ease of movement. The house teamed up with weavers Abraham Moon & Sons of Guiseley on a Wool Week 2020 search for a student-designed, contemporary coat cloth that would create a comfortable overcoat made to last for as long as Prince Charles’s coat has. They asked participating students to provide a mood board taking as their concept the South Bank in London to create a fabric design rich with texture, patterns and checks, featuring clever use of tonal colours.

The winner was University of Huddersfield Textile Design student Emma Herst, who discovered that Covid-19 presented practical challenges. “I had to adjust to a completely new way of working,” she said. “The hardest part of this was designing without a loom. Making samples, experimenting with different yarns and identifying the visual and textural impact of these decisions in person are all huge parts of my design process. For this to be reduced to solely digital was a big change for me which definitely taught me how to adapt quickly and under pressure to different ways of working.”

Established in 1837, Abraham Moon is one of the UK’s last remaining vertical woollen mills, controlling every stage of production from raw wool to finished product (the term “vertical” is a throwback to the Victorian era when mills would rise several storeys, with each floor housing separate processes). “This brand new fabric combines different weaves to achieve an authentic tweed appearance while utilising our softest pure lambswool yarns,” said Judith Coates, design director, Abraham Moon and Sons. “Combined with our ‘softwash’ finish, the resultant fabric is soft in handle with drape and volume.”

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Brora, which has a store in Harrogate, asked students to design a jumper using the Outer Hebrides as their inspiration. Sandra Junele at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design was the winner for her use of colour and graphic design.

Another Huddersfield University student, Louisa Knapp, won a category for the creation of a design for the company Alternative Flooring and designer Margo Selby with fabric woven by Botany Weaving.

The Campaign for Wool challenged students to create innovative and exciting products made out of wool to showcase during the digital Wool Week 2020 event which runs until October 18. Brands could choose their favourite product, with some now offering winning items for sale in stores, or they could give students work placements.

Brora, which has a store in Harrogate, asked students to design a jumper using the essence of the Outer Hebrides as their inspiration. Sandra Junele, a final year Textiles student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, was the outright winner for her use of colour and graphic design.

Other winning students include:

Abigail Weston from Central Saint Martins for a Floor Story rug;

Hannah Sosna from University of Westminster for an M&S mens capsule;

Ashira Mellor from Nottingham Trent for innovative-yarn Finisterre socks;

Ruby Gardner from Glasgow School of Art was chosen by two brands; one for Blackhouse/Harris Tweed Hebrides cloth and also the Holland & Sherry interior cloth;

Georgia Alligan from Derby University for a John Smedley 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.

Runners-up included: 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, Helen Hill 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.

Find out more at http://www.campaignforwool.org/2020/

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