Designer Suket Dhir (centre) of 2015/2016 International Woolmark Prize menswear award winning label SUKETDHIR, flanked by models wearing the winning designs. Photo: Studio Nonamephoto Firenze
SUKETDHIR was announced as the winner of the 2015/2016 Menswear International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event at Pitti Uomo, the world’s foremost menswear trade fair, in Florence on the evening of Wednesday 13 January.
The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Haider Ackermann, Designer; Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Business of Fashion; Suzy Menkes, International Editor, Vogue; Nick Sullivan, Fashion Director, Esquire; Masafumi Suzuki, Editor-in-Chief, GQ Japan; Linda Loppa, Director of Strategy and Vision, Polimoda; Raffaello Napoleone, Chief Executive, Pitti Immagine and Stuart McCullough, Managing Director, The Woolmark Company, alongside representatives from IWP’s retail partners.
According to the judging panel, SUKETDHIR was a unanimous decision. “In fashion, I’m always looking for emotion, for the heartbeat, for the feeling that something excites me – it may come from an ancient skill but it seems fresh to me,” said Suzy Menkes of SUKETDHIR’s collection. Designer Haider Ackermann agreed. “For me, it wasn’t a hard decision,” he said. “Suket is a person with a dream to tell, and I thought that it was very beautiful, because fashion at this time is about a dream, and the rest – the business – will follow. And technically, he showed us details I’ve never seen before, and that’s very impressive.”
Stuart McCullough, Managing Director of The Woolmark Company, explained: “What SUKETDHIR designs is romantic, and that’s very appealing in fashion, and certainly was to the judging panel. All of the designers will no doubt go on to great commercial success in all parts of the world, but we can only name one winner, and today romance won.”
Innovation is at the heart of SUKETDHIR’s collection for the International Woolmark Prize, which cleverly fuses classic western tailoring with elements of the designer’s national dress, such as oversized proportions and lightweight fabrics. “My collection explores the trans-seasonal aspects of wool and the alchemic transformation of the fibrous wool into smooth, silk-like yarn, which renders the fabric light, airy, fluid and yet full and supple.”
Using the traditional technique of hand-tied and dyed yarn (Ikat), the collection aims to “trace the mellowed and faded experiences of the past memories through the ombre pattern”. Seamless molding and heat setting of the fabric reinforces the garments, while the age-old technique of Kasui, a traditional hand embroidery, creates geometric, grid-like patterns in an update on the classic quilting stitch.
Following the announcement, the designer explained: “This is certainly very overwhelming, and everything that I needed right now. I’ve done what I could in India, and this is the best thing that could happen to me, for me to move in a bigger way. I think I’m ready for the world, and I also think the world is ready for me and for this kind of aesthetic. The look is easy and happy, and the world needs that right now.”
This is the second year that the International Woolmark Prize has included a menswear category, last year won by New York-based label Public School. More than 70 designers were considered for the prize over the past year, with the finalists representing six different regions around the world. These include Munsoo Kwon (Asia), P. Johnson (Australia), AGI & SAM (British Isles), Jonathan Christopher (Europe), SUKETDHIR (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Siki Im (USA).
SUKETDHIR will receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business and ongoing industry mentor support, as well as the presentation and sale of their capsule collection, created for the International Woolmark Prize, in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. These include MatchesFashion.com (online), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Japan), David Jones (Australia), Saks Fifth Avenue (New York), 10 Corso Como (Milan) and Boon The Shop (South Korea).
The Woolmark Company would like to recognise the valuable contribution from all its partners. Please click here for the full list.