Prince Charles launches sustainable fashion collection
Yoox Net-a-porter Group and The Prince’s Foundation launch The Modern Artisan, a men’s and women’s sustainable fashion collection, inspired by customer data insight
Last winter, a group of global journalists, travelling from locations including Hong Kong, the US and Australia, assembled with much anticipation at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire, Scotland. This 18th century stately home, populated with Chippendale furniture, and boasting a collection of 17th century Dutch artworks, is set in 2,000 sprawling acres of land, and is home to HRH The Prince of Wales community-focused charity the Prince’s Foundation. It is where young people from the area – many impoverished by the decline of its once booming textile industry – are trained in transferable skills, including stone masonry, woodwork and sewing.
Sewing was the focal point of the announcement at Dumfries House, when Prince Charles himself and Yoox Net-a-porter Group’s chairman and CEO Federico Marchetti, announced the launch of The Modern Artisan – a partnership culminating as a craftsmanship-focused men’s and women’s capsule collection, designed and manufactured by a cross-country group of students and recent graduates. This collection launches today, and for the first time, will be sold across all four of Yoox Net-a-porter Group’s Brands: Yoox, Net-a-porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet. The Modern Artisan will also celebrate the fashion retailer’s 20th anniversary and its profits will be donated to The Prince’s Foundation and its Future Textiles programme.
Education, technology and sustainability are three tenets behind The Modern Artisan, that in the wake of Covid-19 have even more socio-political relevance. The minds behind the collection are a group of Anglo-Italian graduates, six of whom designed the collection as students at Politecnico di Milano in Italy, and six who manufactured the collection at Dumfries House, after a four month training course in small batch production and materiality.
‘The end result, which we saw when we visited Dumfries House most recently in September, showed the artisans’ creativity, understanding of the customer, quality of craftsmanship, and the high level of attention to detail that they have learned during their training,’ Marchetti says. ‘The collection is a wonderful celebration of the heritage of artisanal expertise that is embedded within the cultures of the UK and Italy...The group has been hugely supportive of each other and it is fantastic that they are all entering the industry not only with invaluable experience, but also with such a strong network of peers and friends. I’m very proud that many of our artisans have already found work during the pandemic at great brands like Zegna, Max Mara Group and Off–White.’
The silhouettes in The Modern Artisan were inspired by data insights drawn from Yoox Net-a-porter’s 4.3 million global customers over the last five years. Based on analysis of long term customer design preferences, including colours, fastenings, cuts and sleeve lengths, the collection features tailoring, shirting and knitwear, like wide leg trousers in an oversized check, pussybow blouses, and drawstring detail trousers, in organic and rusty tones. ‘During this pandemic, it has never been more important to remain in tune with your customers and we were delighted to empower the artisans with the technology and expertise at our disposal to do just that,’ Marchetti explains, of this conscious approach to design.
The collection has been crafted using an eco-conscious selection of materials, including cashmere and wool sourced from Johnstons of Elgin in Scotland and full traceable eco-silk, sourced from Centro Seta in Italy. No synthetic materials were used in the offering. Details in the collection also nod to the 500th anniversary year of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, with architectural details, drapery and tonal elements nodding to his technical studies of engineering and anatomy. An intricate smocked detail on the neck of a women’s double breasted coat and the cable knit of a men’s roll neck jumper refers specifically to da Vinci’s knots and geometric sketches.
The Modern Artisan’s journey of creation spans centuries and countries, flitting between the scientific sketches of Leonard da Vinci and contemporary data driven technology. Each piece in the collection features a digital ID, providing the story behind the item, from the artisan who designed it to its care and repair recommendations. ‘The collection has such a rich story behind it, so we wanted our customers to meet the artisans responsible for creating each garment, understand their stories and experiences, and ultimately share our passion for the collection and the important issues it shines a light on.’ §