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International Woolmark Prize opens 2021 applications

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Woolmark has open the search for the “brightest rising fashion stars” to follow in the footsteps of Richard Malone, Edward Crutchley and Teatum Jones, for its 2021 International Woolmark Prize.

The prestigious talent programme is calling on emerging designers “looking to shape a positive future for the fashion industry” to apply to take part in its 2021 edition.

To apply, designers must have been producing commercially available apparel for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 8 years, at the time of submitting an application. In addition, the rules state that the designer should have “consistent experience” in working with and promoting best practice across apparel supply chains, show a yearly growth in sales and demonstrate an innovative use of fabrics and textiles.

All applications will be reviewed by Woolmark’s advisory council of industry experts, which in the past has included Livia Firth, co-founder and creative director of Eco-Age, contemporary designer Manish Arora, stylist Kate Young, and fashion commentators Colin McDowell and Tim Blanks.

Woolmark said in a statement that the advisory council would be looking for designers in the “early stages” of their career who have “shown promise and dedication in growing a sustainable business, though are yet to be established in a global sense”.

The industry experts will then select 10 finalists from any country across the world to participate in the final event that will take place in early 2021. Each finalist will receive 70,000 Australian dollars, approximately 40,000 US dollars to develop a capsule collection which highlights the versatility, innovative nature and eco-credentials of Merino wool.

The 10 finalists will also need to consider sustainability within their capsule collections, using technology from Woolmark partner Provenance to create a sustainability and traceability roadmap, by sharing key product information, as it wants to see each designer bringing the supply chain to the shopper in a way that’s secure, trustworthy and accessible.

Woolmark calls on emerging designers to apply for the International Woolmark Prize

The finalists will also take part in The Woolmark Company’s Innovation Academy, an 18-month education and mentoring programme, which will offer access to International Woolmark Prize partners and advisors supporting product development, research and development, business and sustainability strategies to assist in the development of their collections and brands.

“There is no singular way to celebrate innovation and creativity and we also know this is not confined by geographical or cultural borders,” said The Woolmark Company managing director Stuart McCullough. “By opening the entry process online we can ensure the International Woolmark Prize has the potential to benefit designers from every corner of the globe. We also thank the continued support of the International Woolmark Prize Nominating Bodies who play a valuable role in connecting the best emerging design talent with the prize.”

The total combined prize fund for the 2021 International Woolmark Prize stands at 1 million Australian dollars, approximately 600,000 US dollars, with the overall winner awarded 200,000 Australian dollars, approximately 120,000 US dollars.

In addition, the winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will receive a prize fund of 100,000 Australian dollars, approximately 60,000 US dollars. Winners and finalists will also have the opportunity to have their Merino wool capsule collections commercialised and sold in the world’s top boutiques and department stores through the International Woolmark Prize’s retail partner network.

This year, London Fashion Week favourite Richard Malone was crowned the winner of the 2020 International Woolmark Prize and New York-based Bode won the inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation.

Applications for the 2021 International Woolmark Prize closes on April 27, 2020.

Image: courtesy of The Woolmark Company

International WoolMark Prize