Hainsworth X UCA Rochester Fashion Design: Creative Collaboration

8th July 2022

Iconic textile manufactures AW Hainsworth have partnered with UCA Rochester for their latest live brief, challenging second year Fashion Design students to create a hypothetical brand with sustainability at its heart, including a capsule collection of garments which demonstrates and celebrates this ethos.

The project formed part of the university’s Creative Collaboration module, in which students worked in groups to develop an ethical brand and design a collection of garments using Hainsworth fabrics and other natural, sustainable materials.  The module is designed by course leaders to develop vital team-working skills, crucial to survive in the Fashion industry.

“The project has given students the opportunity to form a sustainable fashion design brand and create a design statement incorporating Hainsworth’s beautiful fabrics and allowing them to appreciate all of the activities performed throughout the critical path of a product. The aim was to draw together each individual’s strengths, as well as offering the opportunity for each of them to focus on the type of role they are considering for the future”.

Denise Ward, Course Leader, UCA Rochester

As proud supporters of rising fashion talent, Hainsworth have worked closely with universities since 2014, setting annual live briefs and projects to give students real-life experience of working to a client’s brief. Fashion design students gain practical and very valuable experience in presenting their garments, working with a client, and receiving feedback.

With an unrivalled heritage dating back to 1783, Hainsworth’s reputation for exceptional quality has made them the envy of woollen mills globally. Today, their premium woollen fabrics are chosen by the world’s leading designers, gracing the runways of major fashion houses such as Chanel, Valentino and Prada.

As a truly vertical woollen mill, and one of the last remaining in Britain, they can process a product from raw fibre to finished cloth entirely from one site in West Yorkshire, giving them full control of their production process and minimising their carbon footprint.

Hainsworth have used merino wool to create beautiful, timeless fabrics at their historic mill for over 238 years. Wool is nature’s own wonder fibre, with a unique set of circular features – it is a sustainable and fully renewable fibre, with the sheep producing a new fleece each year. It naturally biodegrades on land and in water, and as it’s protein-based, does not contribute to microplastic pollution. Wool also reduces waste to landfill as it decomposes naturally in soil, whilst slowly releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth. 

“As a mill we have a responsibility to pay our workers fairly, source our raw wool responsibly, minimise waste and manufacture cloth that will last, and we are committed to playing our part in educating consumers on the steps that need to be taken to create a fairer, cleaner and, we hope, slower fashion industry.”

Ivana Rosinova, Business Development Manager, AW Hainsworth

In May, Hainsworth visited UCA Rochester for the final pitches, with each group presenting their hypothetical brand and individual garments which formed part of the overall capsule collection. The Hainsworth team awarded three individual winners and three ‘highly commended’.

Andrea Noble, Design and Development Manager at AW Hainsworth commented:

“We were extremely impressed by the high standard of work and the professionalism of the team roles assigned and group presentations across the whole year group. A lot of research and development had clearly gone into the project submissions, including target customer profiling, websites, social media, story boards and worksheets. Not to mention the creative and technically skilled pattern cutting and garment construction.”


Megan Hann – Beau-tanical

“I was really excited to find out my university had chosen A W Hainsworth to collaborate with on this project. I really admire their sustainable ethos as this is a big part of my personal aesthetic and an element that I am hoping to take forward into my future career. This was an exciting but challenging project which I thoroughly enjoyed as I had the chance to work collectively on a final collection where we took inspiration from Vita Sackville-West and vintage gardening clothing to develop ideas for the luxury garden wear sector.

I made dungarees for my final garment using 100% Hainsworth Wool in Barathea Magenta for the main body which was durable and easy to work with. To compliment this I used a contrast fabric of organic cotton which I naturally dyed using beetroot. My project was heavily based on embroidery influenced by gardens, and I had no issue in applying this to the wool. When the garment was complete, I received many compliments on the colour which people commented looked vibrant, bold and unique.”

Yu (Issie) Yang – Zero

“I thoroughly enjoyed this sustainable fashion-based project. I was inspired by brutalist architecture, which I conveyed with some neat colour blocks and silhouettes. I explored how to create garments in a sustainable way in the project, such as my garments are multi-wearable, and I used environmentally friendly fabrics like Hainsworth.

The process of using Hainsworth’s fabrics is also very pleasant, the quality of the fabrics allows me to better realize my designs, such as creating silhouettes and using rough edge techniques.”

Mackenzie Reed – Escapewear

“Winning the competition, I was shocked, it was the first time I got to work with others on a university project and I was dreading it. It most definitely took me out my comfort zone as the inspiration and concept is not something I would have chosen to explore myself but in the end I definitely enjoyed it. I really enjoyed working with the wool from Hainsworth and it is 100% something I’d look to use again in the future. By using the Hainsworth fabric it gave me the best finish for the garment and couldn’t have asked for better fabric to use.”

Highly Commended

Sian Jenkins, Beau-tanical

Kyveli Fourli, Escape wear

Madeline Parr, Limitless