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Woolmark performance challenge winners announced

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Hyokyoung Lee from Institut Français de la Mode, France and Hope Kemp-Hanson from Savannah College of Art and Design in America, were announced as the winners of the 2019 Adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge.

The annual competition challenges young designers to develop innovative, forward-thinking product solutions for the sports and performance market, by harnessing the unique natural properties of Australian Merino wool.

The winners were announced during a special event in Munich, Germany, and saw Hope Kemp-Hanson being awarded a three-month paid internship with Adidas, while Hyokyoung Lee won 10,000 euros of prize money to further develop her innovative and commercially viable idea of an energy-generating Merino wool base-layer.

“At Adidas, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives,” said Tillman Studrucker, senior design director at Adidas, after the event in a statement. “The concepts that we have seen from Hope and Hyokyoung convinced us that most of all the great ideas possible to enable people to experience the transformative power of sport by combining innovation and style use the benefits of wool. I want to thank all of the finalists as we have seen a lot of very strong concepts, and it was not an easy decision.”

Commenting on her win, Lee, who designed an energy-generating Merino wool base-layer to monitor an athlete's body status, allowing transmission of data and, if needed, an SOS, said: “Winning the Woolmark Performance Challenge has made me realise that as a designer I can be part of innovations that can be helpful for the world.

“The best part of participating in the challenge is that you can learn about the most recent innovations in different fields - IT, science, fashion and textiles - which allow you to experience the power of human creativity and goodwill when people work together toward betterment of humanity.”

Adidas and The Woolmark Company name Woolmark Challenge winners

While Kemp-Hanson, who turned to the South Korean skate movement for her design, said: “It’s been such an amazing opportunity not just within pushing the innovation and learning of wool, but becoming a part of this group of people, an incredible, new design family. I feel so honoured, humbled, and beyond appreciative to have been a part of this journey.”

More than 1060 students registered from more than 115 educational institutions from 21 countries, making it the most diverse range of applicants for the programme’s second edition. The ten finalists hailed from design universities in France, Italy, and America, as well as two from UK universities, Hannah Greenshield from Manchester Metropolitan University and Rebecca Marsden from the Royal College of Art.

“Despite its long history in apparel, the unique natural properties of Australian Merino wool positions it as a leading technical fibre in today’s sports and outdoor industry,” added The Woolmark Company general manager, processing innovation and education extension, Julie Davies. “We saw that evidenced today with the incredible diversity of ideas presented by the finalists of this year’s Woolmark Performance Challenge. We are really encouraged by how the competition has grown over the past two years, which affirms our commitment to education and the potential for product developments with wool in new market areas.”

The award was judged by a panel of judges that included Edward Crutchley, the International Woolmark Prize Menswear and Innovation winner, as well as Jörg Hartmann, head of fashion and technology at Stoll, Peter Bona, former professional snowboarder and head of design outerwear, trousers, textile accessories at Hugo Boss Athleisure, and Julie Davies general manager, processing innovation and education extension at The Woolmark Company.

Image: courtesy of The Woolmark Company

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