The Woolmark Company, together with Salomon, has announced the winners of its 2022 Woolmark Performance Challenge, an initiative dedicated to backing concepts within the sports and performance market.
For this year’s theme, participating students were asked to invent next-generation running gear for long-distance runners in mountainous environments, with a particular focus on durable organic fibres and merino wool.
More than 191 universities from 25 countries took part in this year’s programme, with ten finalists ultimately presented to a jury who chose three winners.
Michael Orlow won a paid, three-month internship with Salomon for his ‘Keradapt Merino’, a waterproof fabric made from merino wool utilising 3D printing technology and keratin obtained from previous processing.
In a release, Salomon’s R&D footwear manager, Florian Traullé, said of Orlow's concept: "Michael was able to respond to the brief with the transfer of technologies from biomedical research. This was the brief from the Salomon creative team. The proposal to mix wool with other natural fibres opens up a new field for sustainable innovation.”
Opening new fields of sustainable innovation
Giulia Ciola, a student from Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, received 10,000 euros as the winner of the research grant.
For her project, Ciola designed a trail running kit that aimed to maintain the balance of the earth’s natural resources. Her ‘Rapid Decomposing Wool’ came as a response to the growing need for sustainable solutions in apparel, and combined merino wool, milk fibres, Seacell, Crabyon and nettle to offer a circular material that highlighted natural recyclability.
Chloe Jerolaman won the ‘Adaptable Innovation Award’ for her ‘Adapting to Athletes’ concept.
The University of Cincinnati student focused on developing trail running kits that advocate inclusion, specifically designed for disabled athletes. Jerolaman will receive a three-month paid internship at Salomon.
Meanwhile, Woolmark also revealed the winner of its Institution Prize to be the German University of Applied Sciences Albstadt-Sigmaringen.
The institute will receive 10,000 euros in recognition of submitting the highest number of qualitative applications.
Speaking on this year’s edition, John Robers, managing director of The Woolmark Company, said: "The Woolmark Performance Challenge has quickly cemented its place as the world's leading ideas platform for the sports and performance market, using innovative design and the technical nature of merino wool to deliver innovative solutions to improve the performance apparel market
“The ten concepts selected by the finalists demonstrate revolutionary, design-led thinking that can open up new opportunities for the sports and outdoor industry. We encourage them to explore their commercial viability."