Yoox Net-a-Porter debuts the Modern Artisan capsule collection, in partnership with His Royal Highness’ The Prince’s Foundation.
The way fashion student Nicole Christie describes being chosen to help design the Modern Artisan — a new capsule collection launched today by the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation, a charity established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1986 focusing on education and sustainability — sounds a bit like a high-pressure Project Runway challenge.
“We had the initial interview in which we brought in one of our garments from our university collection,” said Christie. Then came a competency test. “When I was lucky enough to get to the next stage, it was making a Harrington jacket [originated in the 1930s as a golfer’s jacket] with very limited instructions. It was very daunting. It was really pressurized,” said Christie, who ended up being one of six British students, along with six Italian students, selected to create the collection.
The 18-piece Modern Artisan collection includes both men’s and women’s clothing, with items ranging from cashmere sweaters, silk blouses, and merino wool-blend coats and trousers to a cashmere bomber jacket and a double-breasted herringbone cashmere jumpsuit. All proceeds will benefit The Prince’s Foundation and its mission to fund training programs in England in traditional textile skills. Prices range from $475 to $1,550.
The collection was built on three foundations: artisan fashion skills and sustainable practices, both supported by technical data supplied by Yoox Net-a-Porter on shopping preferences of its 4.3 million customers. “Being able to access the information provided by the Yoox Net-a-Porter team, five years’ worth of customer preferences, were invaluable. You can start from a really informed point of view. You know the fit, the hemlines,” said Jacqueline Farrell, education director of the Prince’s Foundation.
In terms of sustainability, says Christie, “Our collection was designed using single-fiber fabrics and end-of-line fabrics whenever possible.” Explained Farrell, “When companies produce a fabric, they might produce 300 meters and 280 meters are used. Quite often the rest goes to a landfill. What traditionally was considered waste fabric is increasingly being looked at as a resource.”
The project arose out of an established connection between Yoox Net-a-Porter chairman and CEO Federico Marchetti and the Prince of Wales, who appeared in person to meet the students for a final design review a few weeks ago. “At the very heart of The Modern Artisan project are education and upskilling, sustainability and cross-border collaboration — values that I have worked to instill over the last 20 years. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ efforts in these areas predate any of mine and those of many others. The concept came about from our first meetings, as I learnt about the work of his charity, The Prince’s Foundation,” Marchetti told The Hollywood Reporter in an email.
The two first met in 2018 when Marchetti invited HRH The Prince of Wales to visit the company’s London Tech Hub. Marchetti was in turn invited to visit Dumfries House in Scotland — a 2,000-acre estate in Ayrshire that is part of The Prince’s Foundation — “to see their work with traditional arts and heritage craft skills first-hand. I was so impressed with their work and the ambitions of the Future Textiles arm, that I started dreaming of a project we could undertake together, channelling our respective strengths at both Yoox Net-a-Porter and at The Prince’s Foundation to create a unique platform and learning experience for the young innovators and makers of tomorrow,” explained Marchetti.
The collection was designed in Italy and crafted at Dumfries House, where programs include Future Textiles, which provides workshops in sewing, pattern drafting and woven textiles for secondary-school students ages 12 to 18 and for people who are long-term unemployed. “The real ambition is growing the manufacturing base in the UK with these artisan skills. It’s very important to preserve these artisan skills for future generations. We have to be able to pass on these skills and recognize what quality actually means in the luxury market,” says Farrell, who added that “education has a really big role to play in sustainable fashion. We can’t expect people to change their shopping habits completely but just be more aware when they are purchasing garments of where they came from, who made them, and they are made of.”
In a first for the online company, the Modern Artisan collection will be sold across all of its brands: Yoox, Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet. Farrell says that the pieces are meant to be timeless. “We expect people to not just wear these for one season but to keep them in their wardrobe,” she said. “They are designed with details to be treasured and appreciated.” Added Christie, “There’s no season to them. You can wear them whenever.”