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Winners of Woolmark Performance Challenge 2020/21 announced

By Huw Hughes


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The Woolmark Company has announced the winners of its annual Performance Challenge, which sets out to find product solutions for the sports and performance market, using Merino wool.

The company this year teamed up with technical outdoor brand Helly Hansen for the challenge, which invited participants to create apparel for ocean racing and the harsh and demanding landscape in which it is often performed.

From 352 entries, three winners were announced: Carly Conduff, from the University of Oregon, the US, was awarded a three-month paid internship with Helly Hansen. Conduff created a system of apparel under the athlete’s dry suit specifically tailored to the female body, providing superior support, strategic insulation, and light protection using 100 percent Merino wool.

Bettina Blomstedt, from Aalto University, Finland, won a three-month paid internship with The Woolmark Company. Aiming to find out how the inherent properties of Merino wool could be utilised in sportswear without adding any synthetic materials to the mix, Blomstedt explored alternative ways of achieving sportswear performance by enhancing the natural existing properties of Merino wool.

Younghwan Kim, from Kookmin University, South Korea, was awarded a 10,000 euro research bursary to continue his idea development. Setting out to find a plastic-free waterproof material, Kim created knitted wool footwear using a novel 100 percent natural and renewable material, bringing together Merino wool and Ottchil.

"The Woolmark Performance Challenge continues to be one of the highlights of our product development and education programs," said Julie Davies, general manager, processing innovation and education extension at The Woolmark Company, in a release.

“We were thoroughly impressed by the forward-thinking spirit of each and every finalist, pushing boundaries in innovation and understanding wools attributes as a sustainable performance fibre."

Registrations for the next edition of the competition, which will be in partnership with On and Salewa, are now open and college students from across the world are invited to apply.

Image: Woolmark