The Yoox Net-A-Porter Group and The Prince’s Foundation have launched a sustainable ready-to-wear luxury collection of menswear, comprising eight pieces. The capsule, branded “Yoox Net-A-Porter for The Prince’s Foundation,” is the culmination of The Modern Artisan project – a first of its kind partnership which aims to strengthen textile skills training and equip trainee artisans in the UK and Italy with the skills and confidence needed to produce luxury apparel collections to the highest standards.
In a Group first, the capsule collection comprising ten pieces of womenswear and eight pieces of menswear is available across all four Yoox Net-A-Porter online stores – Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox, And The Outnet. It gives the artisans a unique opportunity to debut their work to 4.3 million customers.
An evolution of the relationship between HRH The Prince of Wales, President of The Prince’s Foundation, and Federico Marchetti, Chairman and CEO of Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, the collection celebrates both the rich heritage and future of British and Italian textile craftsmanship.
The Modern Artisan project guides trainee artisans through the process of bringing a luxury collection to market, marrying training in data insights with sustainable practices and traditional production skills to equip the students for their future careers as truly modern artisans.
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 have been 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. Throughout the project, the British and Italian artisans collaborated across borders to share knowledge, cultures and experiences to enrich the collection.
In today’s fast-paced digital world, the artisans learned how data and technology could be intrinsic to the design process for lasting luxury. They 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, to create a timeless collection they knew would resonate in the luxury customer’s wardrobe. They learnt how to process image data and use AI visual recognition to inform the styles and silhouettes of their designs.
In the womenswear collection, details from 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. The result is a sophisticated collection that marries formal lines and simple construction. Da Vinci’s knots are a feature throughout the collection. His studies of drapery inspired the womenswear, realised through folds, pleats, smocking, ties and bows. The menswear references da Vinci’s technical studies of engineering and anatomy, and his fascination with architectural details.
Sustainability is at the very 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. The Group has been dedicated to driving sustainability in luxury fashion since 2009.
A conscious selection of suppliers and high-quality materials were fundamental to ensure the collection stands the test of time and can be passed down through generations. Cashmere and wool were sourced from Scottish textiles firm Johnstons of Elgin while fully traceable, organic eco silk was sourced from Centro Seta in Italy. Natural and organic materials were prioritised, as was end-of-roll, and no synthetic fabrics were used in the collection. Each style is equipped with a digital ID, providing the story behind the product, its materials, the artisans who designed and made it, as well as care and repair recommendations to enable customers to treasure these pieces for years to come.
“The Modern Artisan project is a unique collaboration that champions sustainability and prepares trainees with the skills and confidence needed to gain employment in the fashion and textile industry, or start their own business,” commented Jacqueline Farrell, Education Director, The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House.
“Managing the project on behalf of The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House and overseeing our skilled tutors teach the trainees artisanal skills and traditional methods of production to a new generation of makers has, for me, been a dream come true. I am very much looking forward to seeing what the artisans do next and am confident that each and every one of them will use the skills they have developed throughout The Modern Artisan project to make a positive impact on the fashion and textile industry and help preserve these invaluable heritage craft skills,” she continued.
Federico Marchetti, Chairman and CEO of the Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, 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.