Nigeria-based Lagos Space Programme, a conceptual non-binary design label by Adeju Thompson, has won the 2023 International Woolmark Prize, following in the footsteps of Saul Nash, Matty Bovan, and Gabriela Hearst.
Lagos Space Programme impressed the judges with the “completeness” of its intellectual, ready-to-wear, high-end crafted collections, as well as the way founder Thompson explored and used Merino wool to tailor each piece.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, chief executive officer of Browns and chief fashion and merchandising officer of Farfetch, who was on the judging panel, said in a statement: “What I loved was the story behind the brand which is so important, and what they’re bringing to light in their community in Nigeria.
"They’re crafted beautifully and look like something you could buy in the most luxurious retailers in the world.”
Thompson said that the win was a “life-changing opportunity,” and that the 200,000 Australian dollars cash prize for winning would mean that “things will be easier for me” as he looks to develop his fashion label known for locally made fabrics and prints.
“To have recognition from The Woolmark Company – wow, I’m so speechless and I’m looking forward to the future,” added Thompson, who beat off tough competition from Robyn Lunch, Paolina Russo, A. Roege Hove, Bluemarble, Marco Rambaldi and Maxxij.
International Woolmark Prize names 2023 winners - Lagos Space Programme and A. Roege Hove
Danish conceptual knitwear brand A. Roege Hove was awarded the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation after founder Amalie Røge Hove impressed the judges with “the freshness of her collection and the attention paid to the supply chain and manufacturing process”.
Hove will receive 100,000 Australian dollars, which she said will be invested “in innovation and new things in the studio,” which were out of reach before the win. Commenting on Hove’s work, Alaïa creative director Pieter Mulier, also on the judging panel, said: “The way she constructed her collection and the emphasis on development. It felt new to me.”
Each of the eight finalists was tasked with designing merino wool looks centred around the theme of ‘dialogue,’ explained The Woolmark Company, to showcase “the innate versatility, innovative nature, and eco-credentials of Merino wool”.
In addition, Amsterdam-based textile innovation studio Byborre was awarded the 2023 Supply Chain Award for its “invaluable contribution” to the International Woolmark Prize finalists over the past few years.
John Roberts, managing director at The Woolmark Company, added: “Ultimately, the International Woolmark Prize celebrates Australian Merino wool, with today's winners and finalists imbued with a life-long love for the fibre. Karl Lagerfeld is a prime example, and more recently, Gabriela Hearst - who won the Woolmark Prize here in Paris in 2017 - continues to be a wonderful champion of the fibre.
“We're proud of the nurturing relationships developed as part of the programme, connecting designer with the supply chain and breaking down barriers. This year’s finalists will now continue their IWP journey, joining a prestigious alumni of more than 400 and will be presented with commercial opportunities via our Retail Partner Network.”