The International Woolmark Prize 2019

The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough with Colin Firth

The International Woolmark Prize celebrates emerging talent and Merino wool during London Fashion Week.

The International Woolmark Prize returned for London Fashion Week to celebrate emerging fashion talents from around the globe who showcase the beauty and versatility of Australian Merino wool. The awards were first held in 1953 as an initiative of the International Wool Secretariat, and awardees have included iconic fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent and Gabriela Hearst.

For the 2019 competition, the nominees were asked to pitch a capsule collection crafted from Merino wool to a stelar judging panel which includeded Tim Blanks, Sinead Burke and Game of Thrones actor Gwendoline Christie. 

The award, staged at Lindley Hall was judged by Alber Elbaz, Tim Blanks, Laura Brown, Sinead Burke, Gwendoline Christie, Julie Davies, David Fischer, Colette Garnsey, Marc Goehring, Gert Jonkers, Floriane de Saint Pierre and Sara Sozzani Maino.

Of the 12 international finalists that presented their collections today, Alber Elbaz said “it was quite wonderful to see designers from places like Korea, China and Sweden, because sometimes in fashion we think everything happens in Paris, so this was a reminder that the world is big and fashion comes from everywhere around the world.”

The winners:

Menswear and Innovation Award winner: Edward Crutchley

The Menswear prize was presented by Colin Firth and awarded to unisex, UK-based label Edward Crutchley, who also won The Innovation Award for the most sustainable approach to systems production, materials, textile design or product design. Of his groundbreaking collection with sub-cultural references ranging from American cowboys to bikers, the designer explains that his “approach to innovation within this collection has been very much focused on artisanal skills and how these can be celebrated and used in a relevant and modern way. Every fabric I have used is exclusive and developed solely for this collection.” The clothes are of course made form 100% Merino wool. 

Womenswear winner: Colovos

The Womenswear prize was awarded to Husband and wife duo Michael and Nicole Colovos for their namesake label, Colovos. The collection referenced classic wool sportswear and workwear throughout history with a modern twist. The wool sourced for their garments resembles the touch and feel of silk and denim with the goal to “create a luxury, modern collection with a fully sustainable proposition”. Michael Coloves also explained that the brand is “committed to principles of zero waste in manufacturing, so all production waste and end-of-life garments will be recycled to create new fabrics, a process that uses steam, heat and citrus to breakdown the fabric waste and create a new fibre to be spun into fully recyclable yarns”. 

Last year Livia Firth went on a journey to meet wool growers turned earth-defenders in Tasmania. Watch the full video here

Want to know more about wool? Read our guide on how to best take care of it.