we chat with hannah jinkins, winner of h&m design award 2016

Olivier Rousteing, Kate Bosworth and Nick Knight were among the jury who crowned Jinkins this year's winner.

by Stuart Brumfitt
08 December 2015, 11:30am

At a fashion show and ceremony at The Orangery in the grounds of Kensington Palace yesterday, Hannah Jinkins was announced as the winner of the H&M Design Award 2016. The Royal College of Art MA and Salford BA graduate was chosen from the eight emerging designer finalists by a judging panel that included Olivier Rousteing, Nick Knight, Katy England, Kate Bosworth, blogger Chiara Ferragni and headhunter Florian de Saint-Pierre, as well as H&M's Ann-Sofie Johansson and Margareta Bosch Van Den.

Ann-Sofie said that Hannah had scooped the award because she had delivered "a new approach to womenswear", explaining, "The way she worked with the garments - pinning it up and on the body - was really clever and really beautiful also. The way she worked with the denim, but with silk inside: that mix felt like something we haven't seen that before. Raw and refined." Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain, added, "Hannah is amazing. She has her own unique vision. She has such strong energy, she's modern, young and really knows what she wants. She works with a tough fabric, yet somehow manages to make it sexy and glamorous at the same time."

SHOWstudio's Nick Knight said that Hannah's collection was his favourite because it surprised him and she had "the things that will make her sustainable in her career: she fits the body, she understands a woman's body, and if you're looking at a designer long-term, I think that's really important." He added that the collection, with its "new silhouette" would be "super lovely to photograph."

Of the €50,000 winnings, Ann-Sofie said, "She should invest it in a smart way. And maybe buy something new! Maybe partying a little bit as well! Because they've worked so hard." Nick Knight praised H&M for providing the generous pot of cash and mentoring, but when asked if there was enough wider support for young talent in the UK, said, "I think it's great that H&M are doing something, but the government should be doing more too. This is one of the biggest industries we have and we should be absolutely behind it, and we're not. The government really need to realise this isn't about a bunch of funny art students doing a bunch of things. It's a huge industry full of really exciting artists and we need to support it."

We caught up with Hannah backstage, as she was riding high off the news.

You were trying to get through to your parents to tell them the news. Have you managed yet?
My mum's in work and she's not answering her phone. I texted my dad and he texted right back. My mum is going to be so pissed off that he knows before her!

How did this collection take shape?
I started with 10 or 15 identical jackets that I'd made - stupidly big men's denim jackets - and I asked a few girls to come in. I tailored them to the girls using a stapler and pins. I asked them how they wanted to wear them. It was about finding something rigid and tough - it's a 13.75 oz. denim and some waxed cottons. But I used some silks and wools for the knitwear. It was like a tailoring process. We ended up calling it "staple to fit", like the Levi's "shrink to fit." The fastenings, I worked with a couple of girls at the RCA, who are amazing jewellers. They helped me work out how I could fasten them by creating a larger staple. The staples on the garments themselves are cardboard box staples and the fastenings, the jewellery designers created for me.

Ann-Sofie praised your "new approach to womenswear." What do you see as the future of womenswear?
I see my collection as quite genderless. There are pieces that are definitely more womenswear and some that are more menswear. I think the way the industry is going, there's going to be more crossovers, but I don't think the industry will become completely genderless. I think it's a nice ideal for some people, but it doesn't work for everyone. So it's finding that balance of things that work for people.

Tell us about your route here. Where did you study?
I did my MA at the Royal College of Art. I did my BA in Salford. It was an amazing fashion course and I would recommend it to anybody. I was the only Londoner. They were all northerners. They were like, "Why did you come up here?" And I was like, "I wanted to get away from London." I was miles away from any good fabric shops, so I had to be clever with just cheap crap! That's why I'm very tactile and I edit and change any fabric that I buy. Like the silks: I brushed them out so they would be really raw, and with the denim, I coated them. I was really privileged to be sponsored by a mill in Japan.

How was the Royal College?
Tough! But it was really good. When Zowie Broach came in for my final year, she shook it up a lot. She was everything I needed. She questioned me a lot. I hadn't had that. I had very soft tutors on my BA and they were very supportive, but she questioned me, but not in a tough way. She taught me so much. I don't understand how her brain fits in her head, because she knows so much. She's great.

What are you going to do with the winnings?
It means I can start my own label. My MA collection is selling in LN-CC at the moment and that's very exciting. I always said I'd take a couple of years out and earn some money, but now I don't have to! 



Nick Knight
Olivier Rousteing
h&m design award
hannah jinkins