London-based labels Teatum Jones and Agi & Sam were announced as the winners of the debut 2015/2016 International Woolmark Prize regional finals for the British Isles during a event held at the One Horse Guards in London. It is the first time the Woolmark Prize held a separate regional final for the British Isles, as in the past UK designers competed in the European regional category.
The two designers labels were selected as the winners by a juding panel consisting of industy experts, including; designer Roland Mouret; Jason Basmajian, chief creative officer of Gieves & Hawkes; Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ; Sophia Neophitou, editor in chief and publisher of 10 Magazine; Anita Barr, group fashion buying director at Harvey Nichols; Simon Chilvers, menswear style director for Matchesfashion.com and Stuart McCullough, managing director at the Woolmark Company from a group of ten nominees.
"Agi & Sam are brilliant because they have such an idiosyncratic point of view; they know exactly what they are doing," commented Dylan Jones, on the menswear winners. Jason Basmajian added: "They've demonstrated an inspirational combination of creativity, innovation and commercial sensibility. This is an exciting duo to watch as they develop their brand."
Agi & Sam and Teatum Jones: Winners of the First UK regional awards for the International Woolmark Prize
Roland Mouret, went on to explain why they selected Teatum Jones as the womenswear winner: "What we loved about Teatum Jones winning this prize was their use and development of Merino wool, from their concept to the final garment. It was extraordinary and we thought it was really representative of what Britain’s young designers stand for."
Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, the designers behind Teatum Jones were awarded with the prize for the womenswear category, and Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, the duo behind Agi & Sam, the menswear award respectively. Both winning labels were given a cash sponsorship prize of 50,000 Australian dollars, approximately 24,500 pounds, as well as the chance to represent the UK and compete in the international final of the Woolmark Prize.
"Wool is a strong part of our brand DNA; it’s amazing to get this recognition," said Agi & Sam in a statement on winning. "We already use wool a lot in our collections because we’ve come to realise that no other fibre can match it in terms of versatility and quality." Teatum Jones, enthused: "We are absolutely thrilled about winning this prize, and what really excites us for the future is the potential of Merino wool, looking at it in a purist and scientific way. Winning the regional award has made us even more motivated to create the most innovative collection we can for the international finals."
During the next six to seven months the winning designers from the regional International Woolmark Prize will develop a capsule collection made from Merino wool, to be showcased at one of the two events which aim to highlight the six menswear finalist and the six womenswear finalists. The womenswear international final is set to take place next February in New York, whilst the menswear international final will be held in Florence in January 2016.
The international finalists will compete for the International Woolmark Prize and the chance to win 100,000 Australian dollars, roughly 50,000 pounds and have their winning collections stocked at renowned retailers around the world including Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Harvey Nichols in London and 10 Corso Como in Milan, Beijing and Shanghai.
"The International Woolmark Prize is our commitment to educating the next generation of fashion industry leaders about the extraordinary potential of Merino wool, and we congratulate Agi & Sam and Teatum Jones on their win," explained Stuart McCullough."With the number of countries represented the largest yet, the International Woolmark Prize is a truly global celebration of emerging talent and most importantly provides the winning designers with a unique opportunity for commercial success on a global scale."