In the next few months, designers will create sustainable, traceable collections using Australian merino wool, and each has its own idea of what “sustainability” means.
The International Woolmark Prize has been the leading fashion award for emerging designers since 1954, when Karl Lagerfeld became its first winner. Sixty years later, the IWP has evolved in line with fashion, but it has probably never been more so in the last few years. While the concept remains the same – new designers have been tasked with making a full collection using Australian merino wool – it has recently become a way of sustainable exercise, responsible discovery, and follow-up. Think of the past five winners, all designers known for their commitment to the people and the planet: Gabriela Hearst 2017; Rodika Sachdeva of Bodice in 2018; Nicole and Michael Colovos in 2019; and Richard Malone in February 2020, just weeks before the epidemic closed Europe. Malone’s views on cycling, agricultural revitalization, and well-designed fashion were extremely sensitive, and has since become one of the industry’s leading voices on sustainability.
They have been selected from a team of 380 applicants in 55 countries by the advisory council which includes Naomi Campbell, Vogue of Sarah Mower, Sinéad Burke, Livia Firth, and Carlos Nazario.
In the next few months, designers will create Australian merino wool collections and present them to judges in the spring of 2021 — although London’s regular fashion show is TBD, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Whether it is a tangible or tangible event, this year’s competition is different because it is a challenge for artists to consider the sustainability and implications of the epidemic. Working in clusters this winter could add to the challenge as cities around the world get their second key.
Each designer will interpret those challenges in different ways. Their definitions of “sustainability” vary widely: At Casablanca’s Tajer, there is a decline in building materials, timeless design, and re-education of customer value.
“Social impact is very important to us,” he said. “Our hope is to create opportunities and resources that build our communities together. We believe it is our job to invest in our local artisans to ensure we live longer with this beautiful ancient design for future generations. ”
In South Africa, Magugu is equally passionate about local production. So how can keeping the product in place make me contribute to that myself, ”he said.
Williams is known for cycling, but he also spoke of the need to break free from the traditional fashion system and drive real change: [and] create a new type of business that returns to charitable and social goals and supports local art. ”
Almost all the designers talked about the little creations, too, which reflect the theme of this year’s competition, “Little is more.” Matty Bovan uses everything from Fiorucci’s vintage samples to deadstock denim to create her small, limited-edition collections, but says IWP will strengthen its tracking and information acquisition. “Examining fabrics and yarns from a variety of mills and industries was fascinating, and since merino is a flexible yarn, it was a lot of fun [working with it],” he says. I try to work with skilled craftsmen, and I also try to make and treat a lot of fabrics in the house. I love the touch of the hand in everything that comes under Matty Bovan. ”
Marie-Eve Lecavalier, founder of Lecavalier in Canada, also hopes to gain a better understanding by following the trail through Woolmark. “Woolmark has been able to promote and strengthen clear values and principles with regard to their access to information. This is a good example for the whole industry to follow… I mean to achieve this level of transparency in everything I do. ”
Next spring, one finalist will be awarded a grand prize of $ 200,000 AUD for investing in their business, while the other will receive a Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation and $ 100,000 AUD. There will also be a third, brand new 2021: Supply Chain Award “which celebrates the outstanding contribution from our trading partners with the aim of raising awareness on new wool distribution strategies.” The latter will also have the opportunity to put their collections on IWP retail partners, including MatchesFashion.com, Sense, Browns, and Net-a-Porter.