Woolmark back in fashion with International Woolmark Prize

9 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 The Woolmark Company’s social commitment, a sharing of resources to support local artisans.

Recipient of the 2008 International Woolmark Prize, Qiu Hao
Recipient of the 2008 International Woolmark Prize, Qiu Hao.

In 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 financial contribution towards their next collection as well as an invitation to participate in the international final.

The award has been supported internationally by key fashion councils including the Council of Fashion Designers America, British Fashion Council, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid and Premsela Foundation.

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 commercialized through key international retail partners including Harvey Nichols in the UK, Lane Crawford in China, Eickoff in Germany and Bergdorf Goodman in the USA.

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 world’s 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 through strategically tapping into the social media networks and establishing itself as the most innovative and cutting edge design award of our time.

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 and international experts.

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

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:

Kara Hurry     
t. +1 917 239 5191

Melissa Grace
t. +61 (0) 416 196 379

Malcolm Carfrae
t. +1 917 239 5191

About The Woolmark Company:

The Woolmark Company 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 per cent natural and renewable fibre. Sheep live on grass, water, fresh air and sunshine. Wool is a fibre that is grown – not manmade. Every year sheep produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source.

There is no finer feeling than Merino wool.