Tengri Textile Innovation Award Winner 2018: Henrietta Johns

Henrietta Johns is the winner of the new Tengri Textile Innovation Award 2018.

Tengri, a luxury material innovator and pioneering fashion and lifestyle brand, announced the winners of its inaugural Tengri Innovation Award, launched this year to encourage the implementation of sustainable fashion and textiles working towards a more sustainable industry standard and future.

The award was open to final-year students of the Tengri Innovation Partnership, an initiative which includes some of the UK’s most influential academic and creative institutions.

Designers were invited to present innovative and sustainable approaches to textiles, to meet criteria set to demonstrate forward-thinking conceptualisation of sustainable fibres and practices that rework cultural and traditional techniques. Critically, these practices would be set to demonstrate the preservation of heritage in fabrication, construction and production.

London design house Tengri, champions the use of rare fibres from endemic animals, including the yak, an ancient animal dating back 10,000 years, and a rare species of yak from the Khangai region of Mongolia unrecognised by the textile industry until Tengri’s launch in 2014.

The studio is committed to referencing nature and natural reinvention to create a sustainable future, and working to commercialise heritage and traditional techniques as part of a sustainable production cycle in luxury fashion.

Applicants of the Tengri Innovation Awards were not only invited to present proposals for the integration of sustainable fibres, but also how this would further be developed in their approach and techniques post-graduation.

As winner of the Tengri Innovation Award, Henrietta receives a one-year mentorship with Tengri, as well as a six-month paid internship supported with Tengri Noble Yarns for production and a cash prize.

Henrietta Johns, recently graduated inBA (Hons) Textile Design  from Central Saint Martins, specialising in woven textiles. Her work is rooted in a deep exploration of natural animal fibres and innovative designs using traditional felting techniques, creating new fabric surfaces with 100% animal fibre.

Henrietta Johns stated that “My final project at Central Saint Martins was what sparked my interest in sustainable innovation, using 100% animal fibre to produce new, stimulating surfaces and textures. Coincidentally, this was also when I first met the CEO of Tengri, Nancy Johnston.

I asked to interview her to pick her brain about the properties of Mongolian yak fibre, and the company’s ethos behind why they elected to use it.

I took a substantial amount of inspiration away from that conversation, I wanted to create a collection of textiles that changed the public’s perception of animal fibre, highlighting the potential for innovation in it’s natural qualities.

Once I graduated, it was my primary goal to carry on my personal development of sustainable innovation, whether that be independently or within a brand with the same ideology. So far I am fulfilling this goal, I used the prize money from the award to purchase my own loom to carry out my personal developments, and I have also been giving the opportunity to work within the company with a six month paid internship.”

In 2017 she won an industry competition sponsored by Stephen Walters & Sons, an esteemed jacquard weaver. This led to her developing innovative fabrics that featured in their A/W 18 menswear collection at Premier Vision 2017, as well as production of a bespoke jacket for Turnball & Asser as part of its dedication to ‘the new generation of design’.

Three runners-up in the Tengri Innovation Award were selected in celebration of their stand-out work in sustainable innovation. Each is awarded Tengri Noble Yarns, fabrics and cash prizes and will be invited to join the Tengri design collective working on the brief for Tengri’s 2019/20 collection: Christopher Ehrlich, Cecile Tulkens and Zoe Atkinson.

With award-winning environmental credentials, Tengri champions the sustainable design and manufacturing of prestige noble yarns and was the first technology specialist to refine Khangai yak yarns in the UK.

Mongolia’s indigenous Khangai yaks enable biodiversity to thrive more effectively than non-indigenous and domesticated animal species, such as cashmere goats, which are introduced and bred for their fibres, contributing significantly to land degradation and the associated global environmental impact.

Tengri, providing a fair share business model, works directly with 4,500 nomadic herder families, ensuring a fair share income whilst establishing herders’ land rights and offering buyers a 100% transparent supply chain. Tengri’s commercial collaborations have to date included: Selfridges, Savile Row tailor Huntsman and prestige bed maker Savoir Beds.

Its current menswear collections, ‘Warrior’ and ‘Rider’, are available exclusively at Tengri.

Nancy Johnston, Founder of Tengri, comments: “We are so thrilled to have launched the awards with such positive engagement. Our new innovation partnership and awards initiative is a key tool of the Tengri manifesto, working towards a society where sustainable and fair share business is the norm and changing the status quo of the fashion and textile industries.

To make this change we need to look to our future global citizens, talent and influencers, supporting the development of sustainable commercial production in education and training. We look forward to welcoming the very talented winners of this year’s awards to the Tengri collective.”

The Tengri Innovation Partnership comprises a global network of organisations spanning private sector, research, conservation, NGO / charity partners and governments, committed to working collectively to foster catalytic change and shape a better future.

Its aim is to introduce transparent and sustainable materials and production into design-thinking for emerging designers, who in turn will craft and create a more sustainable future. The alliance works to embed systems-thinking, circular design and sustainability into education and practice, nurturing and rewarding innovation and empowering young talent to drive market change.

Text and images: with thanks to Tengri & Henrietta Johns.

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