YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group has partnered with HRH The Prince of Wales’ charity to create a sustainable luxury capsule collection – designed in Italy and crafted in the UK – to be sold in aid of The Prince’s Foundation.
The 18-piece womenswear and menswear capsule will be sold from today across YOOX, Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet, and is the result of a training programme – The Modern Aritisan project – developed by YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP and The Prince’s Foundation, which fuses traditional craftsmanship with digital tools such as data insights to create a new form of luxury with sustainability at its heart.
Six Italian students from leading design school Politecnico di Milano’s Fashion in Process (FiP) research laboratory led the design of the “YOOX NET-A-PORTER for The Prince’s Foundation” collection. Meanwhile British artisans undertook training in small batch productions skills at Dumfries House, the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation in Ayrshire, Scotland, allowing them to craft the majority of the collection by hand in the estate’s Textile Training Centre.
During the manufacturing process, the artisans learnt advanced technical production skills such as industrial sewing, pattern drafting and quality control, while also developing the expertise to handle wool, cashmere and silk fabrics to ensure garment finishes meet the requirements of the luxury market. These skills were then formally recognised with the manufacturing artisans completing a Modern Apprenticeship Award in Heritage Textiles in partnership with Glasgow Clyde College.
The knitwear was designed by the Italian artisans and manufactured at Johnstons of Elgin’s knitwear mill in Hawick, Scotland, where all of the artisans learnt about the British knitwear development process.
To complement their manufacturing skills the six designers were granted exclusive access to five years’ worth of YOOX NET-A-PORTER data on long-term preferences of the group’s 4.3 million customers. They learnt how to process image data and use AI visual recognition to inform the styles and silhouettes of their designs.
For example in the womenswear collection the wide legs and midi lengths to the cinched-in waists and pussy bows were design choices informed by customer preferences. Similarly, data informed the choice of colours in the menswear, from the camel coat to the navy trousers, and influenced defining features such as the drawstring detail at the waist of the casual trousers.
The collection design, carried out during the 500th anniversary year of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, took inspiration from the convergence of art and science in da Vinci’s work. Da Vinci’s knots are a feature throughout the collection while his studies of drapery inspired the womenswear.
Sustainability is at the heart of the collection, reflecting the shared values of The Prince’s Foundation whose President, HRH The Prince of Wales, has championed action for a sustainable future for more than four decades, and Federico Marchetti, Chairman and CEO of YOOX NET-A-PORTER, who has been spearheading sustainability in the business since 2009.
“I’ve been enormously impressed by the efforts, the ideas and the vision shown by the artisans from the UK and Italy. Hopefully they will take away a great deal of skill and understanding of sustainable approaches to design and manufacturing that they can apply to their own businesses or future careers. The key for me is to rediscover the importance that nature plays, understand where natural materials come from and how they can be used in exciting and innovative ways. After all, nature is the source of everything,” said HRH The Prince of Wales of the project.
Federico Marchetti added: “I’ve long been inspired by uniting seemingly opposing worlds. The Modern Artisan project harnesses Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to transform the ancient profession of craftsmanship into a contemporary career: we have equipped the next generation of artisans with the digital tools of the trade to navigate an ever-evolving landscape. Designed in Italy and crafted in the UK, this truly sustainable luxury collection illustrates the vast possibilities of cross-border collaborations to tackle environmental challenges and train creative talents in these uncertain times and beyond.”
All profits from the sale of the collection will be donated to The Prince’s Foundation to enable the charity to develop and deliver training programmes that will help preserve traditional textile skills. The Modern Artisan project is a long-term partnership between YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP and The Prince’s Foundation, which will be showcased at Michelangelo Foundation’s Homo Faber in 2021.