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Textile Skills at the Heart of Prince Charles’ Sustainable Luxury Capsule

Forget the “Middleton Effect” or the “Markle Sparkle.” Britain’s Prince Charles is grabbing his own slice of the fashion market.

The Prince of Wales’s charity, The Prince’s Foundation, and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group announced Wednesday that they will be working together to design and produce a sustainable luxury capsule collection of men’s and women’s wear as part of a new training initiative to promote textile skills.

The collaboration, known as The Modern Artisan, will bring together two groups of young people—six students from Italy’s  Politecnico di Milano and six recent graduates from the United Kingdom—to explore what it means to be a “modern artisan” today by marrying “artisanal and data-driven design expertise with high-end sustainable manufacturing at its heart.”

The Italian students will design the collection by drawing inspiration from both British and Italian heritage and the work of Renaissance polymath Leonardo Da Vinci in the 500th anniversary year of his death. They’ll also be tapping into Yoox Net-a-Porter’s Group’s “extensive data insights” to identify long-term customer design preferences.

Meanwhile, The Prince’s Trust will shepherd the British designers through a specially designed four-month training course in luxury small-batch production, during which they’ll develop the expertise to handle wool, cashmere and silk fabrics, along with the skills necessary to manufacture the collection at Dumfries House, the charity’s headquarters in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The collection will debut next year, in celebration of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group’s 20th anniversary, across all four of its brands: Yoox, Net-a-Porter, Mr. Porter and The Outnet. Profits from the sale of the line will benefit The Prince’s Foundation’s charitable efforts.

“At The Prince’s Foundation, we deliver education programs to thousands of people every year inspired by the vision of HRH The Prince of Wales,” Jacqueline Farrell, education director for The Prince’s Foundation, said in a statement. “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, so we are proud to have partnered with Yoox Net-a-Porter Group to deliver this truly innovative training program.

The project, she noted, is the culmination of the foundation’s Future Textiles initiative, which starts by providing students with an introduction to the textile industry and “goes right through” to The Modern Artisan as an “inspiring progression route” for any young person who wishes to join the fashion and textile industry.

Throughout the project, the two groups of trainee artisans will meet in cultural exchanges in Milan and Scotland so they can better collaborate on produce development from the design phase through to final sampling.

“Designed in Italy and crafted in the U.K., The Modern Artisan collection will be an important expression of how talent and technology can work across boundaries and borders,” Federico Marchetti, chairman and CEO at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, said. “This project will help equip a new generation of skilled men and women to fuse traditional craft with digitally infused creativity—and, importantly, to do so sustainably, following the example of HRH The Prince of Wales, who has dedicated the last 40 years to building a more sustainable future.”

This isn’t Prince Charles’s first foray into high fashion. The heir to the British throne previously donated nettles from his Highgrove estate to design duo Vin + Omi to turn into fabric for dresses. In 2012, he voiced his support for sustainability advocate Livia Firth’s work in fashion, saying, “It is only by inspiring people that a sustainable future is not about sackcloth and ashes, but about attaining an infinitely more balanced approach that works in harmony with nature, that we stand a chance of securing a stable environment for our children and grandchildren.”

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