The International Woolmark Prize is the annual event that showcases creativity and innovation in the global fashion industry, shining the spotlight on one key ingredient: Australian Merino wool. Ahead of this year’s edition, we get to know the talents and industry experts in the 2020 line-up.
Now in its eighth year, the International Woolmark Prize gives space to talents worldwide who explore and encapsulate the beauty of Merino wool their designs. This year’s edition will see a special focus on sustainability, with the finalists focusing on traceability and adding transparency to their supply chains. The event is set to take place during London Fashion Week on 17th February, when 10 finalists will present six fully traceable looks to a panel of industry experts and leading creatives.
“We see traceability and supply chain integrity as a way to empower brands and customers to make better choices,” explains Woolmark’s company managing director Stuart McCullough. “By ensuring these emerging designers are equipped with the knowledge, support and access to the most advanced supply chain partners, the International Woolmark Prize continues to push the agenda for best practice.”
So, who is in the running so far? The shortlist features designers from all around the world, including London streetwear label A-COLD-WALL*, South Korean design duo Blindness, luxury menswear brand Bode and self-described ‘Caribbean couture’ label Botter. Also in the running are Chinese born, UK-based menswear designer Feng Cheng Wang, Berlin’s GmbH, ex-Balmain designer Ludovic De Saint Sernin and Matthew Adams Dolan – founder of his eponymous American brand worn by the likes of Rihanna. Last but by no means least are Namacheko, a Kudish-born Swedish-raised creative duo and Ireland’s Richard Malone; the sustainability-focused designer who became one of the youngest artists in history to be added to the MOMA’s permanent collection.
These 10 designers are now on the path towards the final, with support from The Woolmark Company’s Innovation Academy; a fast-track mentoring and education program helping brands implement best practices to address environmental and social issues along with sustainable business growth. “I’m very grateful to be accepted into the International Woolmark Prize alongside such a diverse and exciting group of designers,” explains Feng Cheng Wang. “It’s such an exciting award, and probably the only one that is genuinely concerned with research and development, which in turn protects our industry and our planet.”
Come the night of the event, it will to down to a panel of experts to decide on the winners, who will receive AU$200,000 and AU$100,000 respectively. The line-up of judges has just been announced to include leading experts and tastemakers across all sectors of the global fashion industry, from publishing and creative direction to philanthropy and education.
Tim Blanks, editor-at-large at Business of Fashion, Hamish Bowles, international editor-at-large at Vogue and Edward Enninful OBE, editor in chief at British Vogue will sit on the panel alongside Sinead Burke, educator and advocate, Kim Jones artistic director at Dior Men and Takashi Murakami, artist and president of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. Holli Rogers, chief executive officer at Browns & chief brand officer at Farfetch, Anja Rubik, model, founder of sexedPL and philanthropist and Shaway Yeh, founder of yehyehyeh and group style editorial director at Modern Media group complete the line-up.
The 2020 edition will also see the introduction of the inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, in honour of the late icon and International Woolmark Prize alumnus. The award will be presented to a finalist who showcases outstanding creativity and innovation; characteristics which led to Lagerfeld’s history- making success. It will be presented by Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of the CR Book.
“What an honour to be the first person to award the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation,” Carine explains. “Karl was always looking for new talent – a rare, encouraging force, instrumental in the development of many young designers. In today’s global fashion business, discovering, nurturing, and providing a platform of recognition for innovating creatives is absolutely crucial.”
By partnering with Provenance and Common Objective, two companies that set out to bring transparency to the fashion supply chain, The Woolmark Company aims to give finalists the resources to create and present their sustainability road map and showcase their product journeys at the event and beyond. Stay tuned to find out how the night unfolds.
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