Chosen from more than 300 applicants from across 46 countries, the 12 fashion labels to compete in the global final of the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize have been decided, following three semi-final events held in Hong Kong, London and New York. The winners are amongst the most promising fashion design talents from across the globe and will each gain a financial contribution of AU$ 70,000 for the development of their business and capsule collection.
“Now in its seventh year, the International Woolmark Prize has evolved into one of the biggest fashion awards of its calibre, and so we have restructured the program to ensure our nominees and finalists receive the highest level of industry support and guidance,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.
“The exceptional quality demonstrated by this year’s designers not only reinforces the strength of the award but also proves Australian wool’s relevance on the global stage. Wool’s inherent benefits combined with its eco-credentials provide designers with countless possibilities, and I am excited to see what innovative designs are showcased at the global final next year.” – Stuart McCullough, Managing Director, The Woolmark Company.
The prestigious global final will be held in London in February 2019. For the next seven months, the 12 finalists will be required to develop a capsule collection of six looks in Merino wool, to be showcased at the finals. They will also receive mentoring support from a global panel of experts and a Woolmark licence.
One menswear and one womenswear winner will receive a further AU$ 200,000 financial contribution at the global final, as well as mentoring from industry experts to help propel their business to the next stage.
One finalist will also be selected for the second edition of the Innovation Award which celebrates the most innovative and creative wool fabrications, process, or development and rewards the finalist with a financial contribution of AU$100,000.
The total combined amount a prize winner has the potential to win is AU$ 370,000. In addition, winners will have the opportunity to have their collection distributed through the prize’s prestigious international retail partner network which includes Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay Company, Lane Crawford, Leclaireur, Mytheresa.com, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar, Takashimaya, Tata Cliq Luxury and Ordre.com.
The four Hong Kong finalists are i-am-chen, Angel Chen, Yohei Ohno and Youser.
i-am-chen from Hong Kong is a designer whose origins lie in engineering, with a vision free of fashion norms and is instead inspired by 20th-century artists, blurring the lines between fashion, art, textiles and technology. Angel Chen from China took inspiration from the lifestyle, independent spirit and determination of deep-sea female diver Haenyeo from the Hado Village, in Jeju, South Korea. Yohei Ohno from Japan-based their collection on their research of Japanese archival fabrics where they discovered a unique deadstock summer-weight fabric from Bishu, famous for wool production in Japan. For menswear label Youser from Korea, the inspiration for the collection came from the Native American warrior group, Windigokan, from the Ojibwa nation living in the plains.
The four London finalists are Daniel W. Fletcher, Edward Crutchley and Nicholas Daley from the UK, and CMMN SWDN from Sweden.
Daniel W. Fletcher’s collection is inspired by traditional British clothing, and focused on technologically advanced iterations of wool, offering a new take on the historical British fabric. The starting point for Edward Crutchley’s collection began by looking at textiles within the material culture and the role they play in the expression of identity. Nicholas Daley’s collection SLYGO takes its name from his father’s DJ alias and draws inspiration from his parents’ club night known as The Reggae Klub, which ran from 1978-1982, in and around Scotland. CMMN SWDN’s signature use of unexpected pairings is at play across all elements of the collection. Well-loved garments are recreated in Merino wool through knowingly awkward proportions and are paired against technical base-layer seamless sheer knits.
Three of the four New York finalists – Brandon Maxwell, Colovos and Willy Chavarria – are US based and the fourth is Australian Albus Lumen.
Brandon Maxwell’s collection of a more chic athleisure wear is created to make the wearer look fabulous doing anything or nothing at all. Colovos’ collection references classic wool sportswear and workwear throughout history, updated with modern proportions and patterning techniques. Willy Chavarria worked with The Bear Scouts and the Suedwolle Group in Germany to source the best sustainable yarns and suppliers to develop body map base-layer garments for both athletic and leisure wear. Albus Lumen’s all-white capsule collection, titled ‘Para Interna,’ highlights the ethereal lightness of Merino wool and focuses on the textural possibilities of the fabrics.
The Woolmark Company is the global authority on wool and a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of about 60,000 woolgrowers.