Kyle Wilkinson designs trophies for the European Commission

Learning traditional tailoring techniques, to build fabric trophies

Posted — 11.03.2021

A new design for the EU’s Social Innovation Award

The social innovation award, held annually, celebrates steps forward in industries that are helping make things better for world.

KWS were asked to create a trophy for the 2020 edition of the award – Reimagine Fashion. This edition of the award celebrates the whole supply chain of the fashion sector, from innovations in fabrics, to sustainable packaging solutions. The client asked us to present an idea that was fitting for the recipients, and what the award represented.

Right from the off, i knew we needed to make the trophy from fabric. I wanted to avoid the traditional plastics or metals typically found in trophies, 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, helping 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.

Kyle Wilkinson Studio About Us

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

Wrong.

Turns out fabric, does not want to stay where you want it. I wrapped, tied, pinned, glued and asked it nicely. Without much joy.

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, we decided to go back to the drawing board to see how we could build in structure, as we 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.It turned into a game of pass the parcel really, as me and Lauren wrestled with the fabric, pinning it in place, as Lauren made sure everything was secure and hidden – hiding the stitching and construction so everything looked organic in shape. Lauren having a lot of patience with me pinning, and then re-pinning, over and over. There wasn’t an exact science to this.

“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

“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!”