Earlier this year Huntsman collaborated with Heriot-Watt University and Huddersfield Fine Worsted, for a project that sought third-year BA (Hons) design for textiles students to create a new cloth collection. The winning design will be produced in a full 60-meter length by Huddersfield Fine Worsted, which Huntsman will then create into a bespoke garment.
Last week Lois Cowie, 22, from Buckie in Morayshire in the north-east of Scotland, was announced as the winner of the textile design challenge. Her inspiration came from the sandstone tenements of Glasgow. Before weaving samples of cloth on the school’s looms, she built the design virtually using computer modelling software for weavers that was invented in the Borders.
“My design is inspired by the contrasts in Glasgow’s Merchant City, where I used to live. It’s full of 17th-century buildings and lots of people working in serious jobs. But it’s a different place at night, with lots of clubbing and celebration. I tried to reflect that in my use of colours, with beiges for the sandstone buildings and reds and pinks for the night-time aspects.”
- Lois Cowie, Third-Year Student from Heriot-Watt University School of Textile Design
Lois said she was inspired to study textile design because her grandmother was a kiltmaker and she has always loved sewing and craft. The four-year BA (Hons) Design for Textiles degree at Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design prepares graduates for careers in the fashion and interior textile design industries.
Lois’s design will now be woven into a 60-metre length of cloth by Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, before being tailored into a jacket by Huntsman and displayed in its window on Savile Row, a street in Mayfair, central London, which is famous for its luxury tailoring.
Woollen yarn for the project is being supplied by Knoll Yarns, a Yorkshire-based supplier of lambswool and pure new wool yarns to the UK and global knitwear and weaving industries.
Iain Milligan, Managing Director of Huddersfield Fine Worsteds and Campbell Carey, the Head Cutter and Creative Director at Huntsman, both trained in Galashiels at The Scottish College of Textiles, the forerunner to Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design.
“We were very impressed with the quality of the students’ work and it made finding a winner very tough. Campbell and I are both from Glasgow, so we were drawn towards Lois’s Glasgow-inspired design. But we also liked the big and bold design, which will work well as a woven cloth and will look good in Huntsman’s window.”
-Iain Milligan, Managing Director of Huddersfield Fine Worsteds
“What’s particularly remarkable is that the students have really only had two years to learn and get up to speed with weaving, which isn’t easy, as it’s a very time-consuming process. But we could really see the hard work and passion of the students coming through.”
-Campbell Carey, Huntsman Creative Director and Head Cutter
Four students were also given commendations for their work in the project. These were Emma Gall, Lisa McCallum, Aimee McCallum and Rebecca Russell, all from the third year of the BA (Hons) Design for Textiles course.
Campbell and Iain will consider the commercial potential of some of the other student textile designs as part of their next steps. The weaving and tailoring of Lois’s textile design is expected to take around 12 weeks.
“Our students have worked incredibly hard to create their designs, drawing inspiration from diverse sources, so it’s wonderful to hear really positive feedback from such important players in the fashion and textiles industries.”
- Fiona Pankhurst, Assistant Professor in Woven Textile Design at Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design
The School is a centre of excellence in design, with Honorary Graduates including British fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood. It is based on Heriot-Watt’s Scottish Borders Campus, which is built around a historic mill in Galashiels, at the heart of Scotland's luxury textile industry.