Toni Hicks is an expert in knitted textiles. She is a Freeman of the City of London and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters.
Toni's developmental work in textiles has included knit for architectural practice and interactive technologies; ethical and ecological concerns in knitting traditions including the implications for regional cultures worldwide; and the introduction of specialist knitted textile programmes in higher education.
Toni Hicks is a freeman of the City of London and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters. She has collaborated with several fashion designers and developed industrial links and is a major figure in the development of knitted textile education in Britain.
Toni Hicks is a freeman of the City of London and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters. She has worked withdesigners and researchers to develop the influence of knitted textiles in a number of areas, including design for well-being, textiles as an architectural material and ethical, sustainable practices in global textile traditions.
She graduated from the Woven Textiles course at Winchester and directly joined J.Henry Smith Ltd, a yarn supplier in Calverton, Nottingham, the village where the first knitting frame was invented, to establish a subsidiary company designing knitwear collections for retailers in the UK, including Browns, Selfridges, Liberty & Co. and Macys in NY. Since the mid 1970s she has worked as a designer on many collaborative projects, alongside a parallel career in Higher Education.
During a span of more than twenty years Hicks has collaborated with several fashion designers and companies to contribute the knit element to their collections. These include Hardy Aimes, Elaine Chaloner, Jasper Conran, Alan Couldridge, Tim Gardner, Deryck Healey, Benny Ong, Laura Ashley and Marks and Spencer Ltd. She also produced knitted textile designs and knit patterns for Courtelle to promote the yarns from their spinners, including, Thomas Burnley, Tilsa, Mossley Wool Combing and Spinning Ltd. and Benson Turner. She has designed and calculated patterns for Lyric Pattern services and Hayfield wools and sold designs to DKNY and David Tan, Singapore. Additional projects have utilised her knowledge of weave and include designing upholstery fabrics for British Rail, furnishing textiles for stands at the Ideal Home exhibition, woven fabrics for Munrospun, Cavendish Textiles and Courtaulds.
After relocating to London in the mid 1970s and observing that knitwear design was not a recognised subject on most fashion and textile courses, Hicks introduced knit design to the University of Westminster (previously Harrow School of Art ) and worked in Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, Winchester School of Art and the University of Brighton to deliver knit design projects to textile students. She also worked with students on the MA Fashion Womenswear and Menswear courses and the MA Constructed Textiles course at The Royal College of Art. From 1998, as Area Leader of the Knitted Textiles course at the University of Brighton, Toni has developed industrial links and maintained its international reputation as the most highly regarded course in its field.
Since 2003 Toni has become increasingly involved in issues relating to the ethical and ecological factors governing aspects of the fashion and textile industries. She was a member of the steering group for Fashioning an Ethical Industry, a project now led by Hannah Higginson and supported by Labour Behind the Label, to embed an awareness of such concerns into young designers graduating from all fashion and textile design courses in the UK by 2010.
Toni helped to organise a D-futures event with Nick Gant and Jake Leith at the University of Brighton in 2004, Design + Sustainability = Product – Negativity. Her concern with the diverse issues associated with the subject has led to other areas of further research interest. One relates to the relationship between sheep and the South Downs and another collaborative project with Anne-Marie Bur is to research and document on film, historical and manual textile skills practiced within a particular cultural or geographical location, to perpetuate knowledge of these traditions and techniques.
In 2004 Hicks was invited to give a lecture at the V&A on the Future of Knit Design and in February 2006 Hicks was invited to lecture at the University of Arts and Design in Budapest and held a workshop there in September 2006.
During 2006 Hicks worked with Dr Mette Ramsgard Thomsen at the Centre for Interactive Technologies and Architecture in Copenhagen on a series of projects with architecture and textile design students. The aim of the workshops was to explore the idea of a complex skin attached to scaled (1:50) armatures to allow for movement and interaction. An exhibition of this work, Robotic Membranes/ Strange Metabolisms, was held in the Grand Parade Gallery, Brighton, in January 2007. She then continued the collaboration with Ramsgard-Thomsen together with Tilak Dias and his research team at the William Lee Innovation Centre in Manchester on the development of new knitted textile fabrics as building materials.
During 2007, in collaboration with Judith Condor Vidal, (a founder and Fair Trade representative at the Ethical Fashion Forum) Hicks worked on Trading for Development projects which help with the design and communication links between knitwear producers in communities in the alpaca producing areas of South America and retailers such as La Redoute and Topshop. During June/ July 2007 on an initial investigative mission to determine future connection, with a view to establishing placement and further research opportunities for students Hicks, with Condor-Vidal visited the Andean regions of Latin America, running a series of ten workshops for several of the IFAT (International Fair Trade Association) groups of producers. These included Camari, MCCH and Fundacion Sinchi Sacha in Ecuador; Senor de Mayo, Asarbolsem, Caritas including Sorata and Pachamama in Bolivia; Ciap and Minka in Peru and Foundation Solidaridad and Foundation Chol-Chol in Chile. Meetings with members of the British Embassies in each country as well as with local members of parliament and chambers of commerce reinforced support for our future projects. In January 2008 a project to produce a trend newsletter for circulation throughout the IFAT network (a global association of nearly 300 organizations in over 60 countries) will be launched.
Darbyshire, Sally and Hicks, Antonia (2011) Key criteria and physical properties of a textile for use in a feminine sanitary product In: FIBREMED 11, 28-30 June 2011, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland.
Farrer, Joan and Hicks, Antonia (2010) Knitting communities in the Andes The Textile Institute, Manchester.
Hicks, Antonia (2010) Hand made tales: women and domestic crafts [Exhibition]
2009 - 2012
2004 - present
2007 and 2009
1992 and 2006
1985 - 1991
1987 - 1990
1989 - 1990
1981 - 82
1976 - 77
1984 - 1988
1984 and 1986
1985 - 1986
1974 - 1979
1974 - 1977
1972 - 1974