The Woolmark Company has selected seven finalists from the UK, the US, France, Australia, China, and South Africa for its 2022 International Woolmark Prize.
The UK has two designers in the final, Ahluwalia, launched in 2018 by Priya Ahluwalia and menswear designer Saul Nash. They will compete against New York City-based Peter Do, Rui founded by designer Rui Zhou from China, Australian womenswear designer Jordan Dalah, French emerging brand EgonLab, and MmusoMaxwell, a fashion brand based in Johannesburg, South Africa, founded in 2016 by Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane.
This year’s theme is ‘play’ and each finalist will be challenged to experiment with textiles, design and progressive business practices “to drive change and innovation for a more conscious future”. They all each receive 60,000 Australian dollars for the development of a Merino collection for autumn/winter 2022.
The award aims to celebrate “forward-thinking design and innovation,” explains the Woolmark Company, and each designer will also have to highlight transparency throughout their supply chain and build a sustainability roadmap alongside partner Common Objective.
John Roberts, chief executive at The Woolmark Company, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled to introduce the next generation of creative game-changers to take part in the 2022 International Woolmark Prize.
“As the award continues to evolve, our aim is to support designers to think beyond today, highlighting the innovation, versatility and sustainability of Merino wool and showcase its basis for new technologies to meet the discerning needs of tomorrow’s customer.”
Ahluwalia, Saul Nash and Peter Do announced as finalists in International Woolmark Prize
The finalists will compete for two prizes, the International Woolmark Prize that will award one finalist with 200,000 Australian dollars to invest in the development of their business. While the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, in honour of the late icon and International Woolmark Prize alumnus, will award the winner with 100,000 Australian dollars.
All finalists will also have the opportunity to be stocked at some of the world’s leading stores via the International Woolmark Prize retailer network.
Commenting on being named a finalist, Priya Ahluwalia said: “I am so excited to be selected as a part of the final. The opportunity for myself and my team to learn more about wool and be able to innovate with the support of Woolmark experts is incredible.”
MmusoMaxwell founders Boko and Potsane added: “There is a paradigm shift in the fashion ecosystem. Africa is now part of the conversation and rightfully so, being part of this prize is a testament to that.”
Woolmark will also present a Supply Chain Award for the second time, celebrating an outstanding contribution by a trade partner to a member of the supply chain.
All the winners will be selected by a prestigious panel of industry experts in April 2022.
Woolmark Prize finalists to be supported by Innovation Academy
The Woolmark Company’s Innovation Academy will also provide International Woolmark Prize alumni and finalists with an education and mentoring programme, offering support on early-stage investment, product research and development, mentoring, networking and commerce, providing unparalleled insights to help them grow a sustainable business.
The finalists will have access to a network of more than 47 progressive international supply chain partners including Tilting the Lens, Common Objective, Queen of Raw, Aquapak, Close to Clothes, ByBorre, D-House, Knitwear Lab and Studioe. As well as recieve mentoring from industry leaders, such as stylist and editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Farfetch chief brand officer Holli Rogers, educator and advocate Sinéad Burke, Vogue Talent and Vogue Italia deputy director Sara Sozzani Maino, YehYehYeh founder Shaway Yeh, and Business of Fashion editor-at-large Tim Blanks.