Textile Exchange’s annual Materials Matter Photography Competition, in partnership with Magnum Photos, calls on photographers to explore the visual stories that take place when fibers and materials are cultivated, created, spun, woven, sewn, loved and cherished – gaining cultural and emotional significance through the journey. 


Textiles and clothing connect us to our planet’s ecosystems, cultures and communities

The materials used to make them come from farms, forests, or even oil from the earth, and they have often passed through many pairs of hands, transformed each time before they become the final product that we buy.

This transition starts with the plants, animals, or chemical processes that give us materials like cotton, viscose, wool, or polyester. These fibers become thread, thread becomes fabric, fabrics become finished products, and finished products become cherished or symbolic items.

Photo: Lindokuhle Sobekwa

Placing textiles at the center of the story 

Our collective appreciation of textiles often revolves around the product itself, rather than where it came from, who created it, or what it has come to mean. That’s why, in partnership with Magnum Photos, our annual photography competition invites photographers to place textiles at the center of the story. 

The initiative hopes to reframe the way we relate to their social, cultural, and environmental implications. It is about altering our attitude towards these everyday items, all while providing a springboard for emerging talent to embrace a more human approach to visual storytelling. 

How it works

What the winners recieve and how they're selected

The jurors

Winners will be selected by a panel consisting of experts from a range of disciplines. The 2023 jurors included Aditi Mayer (Photojournalist, Sustainability Activist), Claire Bergkamp (CEO, Textile Exchange), Sonia Jeunet (Education Director, Magnum), Yessenia Funes (Independent Environmental Journalist), Emily Chan (Senior Sustainability and Features Editor, British Vogue), Lindokuhle Sobekwa (Magnum Photographer), and Peter Van Agtmael (Magnum Photographer). 

The prizes

The prizes may vary from year to year and are intended to enrich the winners’ creative development and career progression. In 2023, the overall winner was awarded a commission to the value of £8,000 for Textile Exchange to document the stories behind some of its members as well as a mentorship with a leading talent from Magnum’s network of photographers. The runner-up received a commission to the value of £5,000 for Textile Exchange and coaching sessions with a Magnum Photographer and the Magnum Photos Education team. 


The exhibition

Each year, winning entries are also showcased in an original exhibition at the Textile Exchange Conference. Held annually, the event brings over 800 brands, retailers, and suppliers together to ensure that fashion and textiles are produced in a way that supports our planet, its ecosystems, its landscapes, and its communities. 



Get in touch

If you have any questions about the competition, please contact us at materialsmatter@textileexchange.org.