Kyle Wilkinson designs trophies for the European Commission

A fabric trophy design by Kyle Wilkinson Studio

Building fabric sculptures, to reimagine fashion.

Posted — 10.09.2021

A new design for the EU’s Social Innovation Award

I was really excited when i got the email asking us to create a trophy for the Reimagine Fashion edition of the award – where the body looks to reward sustainability and innovation throughout the whole fashion supply chain.

Along with a fantastic KWS designed trophy, the winners also receive €50,000 (design awards, take note 🙂) which makes this an an extra special award, that celebrates big steps forward in how we dress ourselves for the future.

The brief was pretty short, the client wasn’t exactly sure what they were after, and asked us for some ideas that we thought would be suitable.

Right from the off, i knew we needed to make the trophy from fabric. It clearly wasn’t right to use traditional materials such as plastic or metals as it didn’t really fit the message of sustainability, or fashion for that matter.

Rather than sketching, i started quickly playing with fabric to see if you could create a free standing object, and rather than faffing with fancy stuff, went with a rolled up scarf to kick off, which helped understand the task at hand and showing the client the thinking and direction.

And whilst fabric, isn’t something we’d worked with before, i thought it was something that we’d be able to achieve, and the client loved the idea.

I thought we were laughing. We’ve got a great idea, we know what we’re doing time to get cracking.

Wrong.

Turns out there’s a reason i couldn’t find any fabric trophy examples, it does not want to stay where you want it.

I wrapped, tied, pinned, glued and asked it nicely. Without much joy.

A fabric trophy design by Kyle Wilkinson Studio

At this point, enter Lauren Riley, fabric technologist and designer, who knows how to construct clothes and other amazing things through her skills. After a few failed attempts at creating sculptures purely from fabric, i decided to go back to the drawing board to see how we could build in structure, as i realised it needed more strength to stand, and importantly survive the journey to wherever the winners were located. I landed on the idea of using wire coat hangers.

Sustainably repurposing an everyday item from the fashion world, both felt right on message, and allowed us to build a solid frame, a skeleton almost, in which we could use techniques borrowed from tailoring to stitch the material to, almost like a haute couture dress.

Out came the pliers, bending and pulling the wire into various shapes whilst twisting and folding the fabric in individual sections, layering things up into the expanding  cantilevered shape i was looking for – so that the fabric looked as though it was rising up, or frozen in the wind.

Kyle Wilkinson designs trophies for the EU
A fabric trophy design by Kyle Wilkinson Studio
A fabric trophy design by Kyle Wilkinson Studio

“Kyle Wilkinson Studio was brilliant to work with. They took our brief and created uniquely designed trophies that captured the spirit of our competition beautifully. We could not be happier with the result!”

Liz Vossen
Programme Manager