The Woolmark Company announces International Woolmark Prize

7 May 2012

The International Woolmark Prize crosses borders and cultures by seeking outstanding and emerging talent from across the world, aligning the support of emerging designers with the evolution of emerging countries. It is an award for the next generation, shifting the focus from glamour to true talent as a way to highlight wool’s eco credentials. It is Woolmark’s social commitment, a sharing of resources to support local artisans.

The International Woolmark PrizeIn keeping with a long tradition of supporting individual excellence in design, the International Woolmark Prize aims to highlight the beauty of the Merino wool fibre at the hands of the world’s finest designers. Five regional awards will be held in Australia, China, India, Europe and the US. The winner from each region will receive a $50,000 financial contribution towards their next collection as well as an invitation to participate in the international final.

The Australian nominees are:

  • Dion Lee
  • Romance Was Born
  • Ellery
  • Christopher Esber
  • Magdelena Velevska
  • Carl Kapp
  • Song for the Mute

The Woolmark Company recognises the support of Vogue Australia for nominating the designers. Globally the award has been supported internationally by key fashion councils including the Council of Fashion Designers America, British Fashion Council, Chambre Syndicale De La Couture, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid and Premsela Foundation.

The regional awards will be held in July where the designers are required to present sketches of a Merino wool capsule collection comprising of six outfits with one full outfit to be produced. These collections will be judged by a panel of local experts, in Australia the judging panel comprises of:

  • Kirstie Clements – Editor Vogue Australia
  • Simon P Lock – Founder of Australian Fashion Week
  • Malcolm Carfrae – Global Vice-President of Communications for Calvin Klein
  • David Bush – Buyer Womenswear David Jones

The winner of the international final will receive a further A$100,000 to assist in underwriting their next fashion show. In addition, the international winner will have their collection commercialised through key international retail partners including Harvey Nichols in the UK, Lane Crawford in China, Eickoff in Germany, Bergdorf Goodman in the USA and David Jones in Sydney.

The Australian wool industry has supported multiple designer programs dating back to the illustrious International Wool Secretariat (IWS) design award of the 1950s which founded two relatively unknown designers of the time in Paris, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. More recently, in 2007 the Protégé program aligned some of the worlds most established designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace with young protégés of their choice. With the benefit of more than 60 years of design award experience, The Woolmark Prize has been reinvented for a new generation.

Robert Langtry, The Woolmark Company’s global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer explained, "The Australian wool industry has a rich history of supporting emerging talent in fashion. Australian Wool Innovation and The Woolmark Company, globally, have continued this tradition by creating innovative design support programs. This hindsight, paired with Woolmark’s global network and reach, has allowed us to undertake a project of this scale with the aim to educate and connect with fashion’s future leaders and to highlight outstanding design in Merino wool." 

Judges internationally include Franca Sozzani, Narcisco Rodriguez, Alexandra Shulman, Sally Singer, Linda Fargo, Giles Deacon, Steven Kolb, Christiane Arp, Malcolm Carfrae, Uma Wang, Priya Tana and Tim Blanks.

Today when natural fibres are on the agenda, and consumers are educated about the qualities of fine wool, the Woolmark logo is one of the world's ten most well-known and respected apparel-related brands in the world.

And with this renewed strength The Woolmark Company wishes to provide the opportunity for the great designers of tomorrow to launch their careers and show true innovation with Merino wool.

Partners and designers who are involved with the Woolmark Prize project receive the additional credibility and benefits of the ‘natural fibre’ message that has become such a valued incentive within the apparel industry and consumer psyche.

For further information, interview or images please contact:
Melissa Grace
t. +61 (0) 416 196 379

About The Woolmark Company:

The Woolmark is the world’s best known textile fibre brand, established in 1964.

The Woolmark brand is owned by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), a not-for-profit company owned by over 29,000 woolgrowers. AWI’s vision is to be a significant contributor to a vibrant, stable and profitable wool industry providing the world with the best natural fibre. The company works throughout the global supply chain – from woolgrowers through to retailers.

The company mission is to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry; and increase demand and market access for Australian wool.

Merino wool provides stability, durability, softness and luxury to the tailoring industry. The fibre has long been a favourite of designers, but younger consumers, born in an era of ‘disposable’ fashion know too little about the natural benefits.

Wool is a 100% natural and renewable fibre. Sheep live on grass, water, fresh air and sunshine. Wool is a fibre that is grown – not man-made. Every year sheep produce a new fleece making wool a renewable fibre source.