The ECO STORIES Textile challenge to feature at GREEN GRADS London

by Debbie McKeegan | 22/09/2022
The ECO STORIES Textile challenge to feature at GREEN GRADS London

The GREEN GRADS Textile Challenge is proud to present ECO STORIES told in pattern on cloth by breakthrough UK talent. Sponsored by Epson, FESPA, Prinfab and Imageco ltd new graduates from art schools across the country were invited by GREEN GRADS to submit a portfolio with patterns that reflect their environmental concerns and/or love of the natural world, taking into account eco-friendly textiles, dyes, and methods of production.

The GREEN GRADS Textile Challenge is proud to present ECO STORIES told in pattern on cloth by breakthrough UK talent.  

Sponsored by Epson, new graduates from art schools across the country were invited by GREEN GRADS to submit a portfolio with patterns that reflect their environmental concerns and/or love of the natural world, taking into account eco-friendly textiles, dyes, and methods of production.  

The initial idea came from Barbara Chandler, award-winning design editor and founder/curator of GREEN GRADS, and the concept has been delivered by GREEN GRADS’s textile consultant, and FESPA textile ambassador, Debbie McKeegan, the hugely experienced founder/CEO of Texintel. 

GREEN GRADS @greengrads22 is a platform for new UK graduates “With ideas to heal the planet” said Barbara Chandler, adding:  

“Pattern has been a powerful communicator since the earliest days of cave art,” said Barbara. “We know that young people today are weighed down with environmental concerns. What if they could express them through design and put them onto cloth? And our final ambition for ECO STORIES is to get these patterns onto the market to impact consumers as they go about shopping for the home.” 

Debbie, with her unequalled background in digital textiles and a strong passion for sustainability and the environment, has nurtured ECO STORIES from the beginning, securing our sponsor Epson at the outset. “Epson is the ideal partner for us,” she says, “as a leading supplier of digital technology, they are committed to responsible sustainable practice. Epson are at the forefront of digital innovation.” 

Phil McMullin, Head of Pro Graphics Sales, Epson UK also commented.  “Empowering young adults with the confidence and recognition to take their sustainable-minded business acumen to the next level. The Green Grads initiative sets a great example, and I think every industry should be following. Reducing environmental burdens is fundamental in Epson’s pursuit to digitalise textile printing. And by showing graduates both the environmental and commercial attributes of manufacturing textiles in-market, on-demand, using sustainable printing technologies, we can help shape a future where profit doesn’t have compromise the planet”. 

A physical show for GREEN GRADS takes place this weekend, September 24/25, and ECO STORIES plays a central part. However once awarded, the GREEN GRADS are always Green Grads, their award never expires, it’s a badge of honour.  

Having selected the winning designers, Prinfab a company based in the UK kindly offered to supply digitally printed textiles, featuring our winning designs. All fabrics were printed using Epson technology at the Prinfab production facility here in the UK.   

Oliver Mustoe-Playfair commented “GREEN GRADS is a fantastic opportunity for Prinfab to support emerging talents in partnership with Epson, an organisation that recognises the environmental challenges that we face in the textile industry. Prinfab have provided the printed fabrics for the GREEN GRADS competition winners”.  

“By manufacturing in the UK, our clients here at Prinfab, have an oversight of the whole production process, giving a greater openness and transparency within the supply chain. – Oliver Mustoe-Playfair, co-founder Prinfab. 

And the winners are: 


Sarah Thorley: Bolton School of Art @colours_by_sarah  

The Bateman Collection
Here is a rich portfolio of pattern inspired by the Victorian National Trust treasure, Biddulph Grange Gardens, laid out by James Bateman in 1840. The Bateman Collection exudes Sarah’s passion for nature, conservation, restoration, and history, expressed in florals, foliage, architecture, birds, and nature. Respecting the values of ECO STORIES, Sarah has used recycled papers for her artwork which has printed on linen; and she has re-upholstered charity-shop chairs. “My designs celebrate conservation and highlight the beauty of nature,” she says. 

Says Debbie: “Sarah is a talented graduate with a wonderful career ahead of her. Her attention to detail marks her out for commercial success. She unmistakably loves nature and has carefully researched the sustainable manufacturing techniques that are vital for our planet’s future.” 


Rhiannon Weaver: De Montfort University @rhiannoneleanortextiles 

Silken Bloom  
This is a beautiful upmarket textile collection with materials and principles that nevertheless respect the environment. Rhiannon looked to the 1970’s hippie movement, where she found a then-new awareness of eco-fashion, with alternative fibres such as hemp and bamboo chosen over cotton. Fast forward, and she has sourced hemp linen and bamboo silk, and embodied sustainability and zero waste in her embellishments. “I want to show that if you carefully research alternative fibres and other materials, you can still have luxury and couture.” 

Debbie comments: “Rhiannon is admirably committed to sustainable, recycled or reclaimed materials. At the same time, her 3D luxurious layered creations are haute couture, richly tactile and sensory – an impressive balancing act. Congratulations!” 


Rebekah Longland Birmingham City University @rebekah.longland  

Home Grown  
Inspired by a visit to a walled garden, sparking a new appreciation for vegetables and plants, Rebekah’s portfolio extols the benefits of growing your own food. It expresses a passion for nature and the desire for a more harmonious way of living – in contrast to factory farming and industrialised food production. “Consider where your food comes from, and how it is grown,” she says. Her vibrant designs, which started as collaged motifs, were digitally printed using eco-friendly colours and papers. 

As Debbie says: “Rebekah taken what the earth provides and captured nature’s very essence in her patterns.  They are a plea for a simpler life enriched by biodiversity, with organic food from your own garden or allotment.” 

ECO STORIES will be unveiled on screens and with printed lengths at GREEN GRADS, 24/25 September, Samsung Experience Space, Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London N1C.  

Here 50 UK graduates will platform new concepts for sustainability, biophilia and the environment. 

Huge thanks to all of our supporters of the GREEN GRADS initiative: Epson, FESPA, Prinfab and Imageco ltd without your support we couldn’t continue. 

Green Grads is a not-for-profit event, organised with goodwill with all time given freely.  

More information

Opening hours: 
Saturday September 24: 11am-7pm 
Sunday September 25: 11am-5pm. 
Sunday September 25, 3pm: The GREEN GRAD Awards presented by Jay Blades MBE. 

Contacts: Barbara Chandler, 07970 700775 
Debbie McKeegan:  07717578459 

by Debbie McKeegan Back to News

Interested in joining our community?

Enquire today about joining your local FESPA Association or FESPA Direct

Enquire Today

Recent news


Analysing the opportunities for growth in 3D print

Are there opportunities for traditional printing companies in the 3D print market, and if so, how should they go about taking on such work? Rob Fletcher speaks with some of the leading names in this sector to find out.


The circular economy could be the next greenwash

Laurel Brunner discusses the risk of the concept of circular economy being used for greenwashing.


Textile printing expert Stephen Thomas shares his vision for Industrial digital fabric printing

In today’s podcast we talk with Stephen Thomas. His long career spans mass production using analogue and rotary screen print and the advent of digital textile printing technologies.


Analysing the core advantages of sublimation print in textile work

Textile print has proved to be an incredibly popular and prosperous market for print service providers (PSPs) for a number of years, with many opting for sublimation printers to produce work. Rob Fletcher looks into the main reasons why this technology has proved so popular in this sector.