British brand and noble yarn technology specialist Tengri has named the winners of its inaugural innovation award, launched this year to encourage the implementation of sustainable fashion and textiles working towards a greener industry standard and future.

The award was open to final-year students of the Tengri Innovation Partnership – an initiative that 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.

Henrietta Johns, who graduated in Textile Design BA (Hons) from London’s Central Saint Martins, was named as the winner. Johns’ 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.

As winner of the Tengri Innovation Award, she 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.

Three runners-up were also recognised for 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, graduate of Central Saint Martins’ BA Fashion Design Menswear, accredited for his conscientious approach to sustainability with ‘zero off-cut’ pattern cutting, reinventing a traditional tailoring technique used in the early 1900s.
  • Cecile Tulkens, graduate of Central Saint Martins’ BA Fashion Design with Knitwear, for her ability to combine traditional and industrial techniques, incorporating an ancient form of crocheting originated in Belgium into her work.
  • Zoe Atkinson, graduate of University of the Arts London, BA Textile Design, with her amour-like knitwear combining natural materials such as leather skins, wood and soft woolen textures, to create an inventive outlook of future materiality.

Based in London, 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. It was the first technology specialist to refine Khangai yak yarns in the UK and today 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.

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“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,” says Tengri founder Nancy Johnston. “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.”