Australian woolgrowers vote for a levy to be imposed on each bale of wool they produced, to promote their product around the world. This bold and innovative decision results in the formation of a body first known as the International Wool Secretariat, which later becomes The Woolmark Company.
The International Wool Secretariat founds a fashion design award to highlight the versatility and modernity of wool. The aim is to showcase the beauty of wool to an international audience of fashion designers, retailers and consumers.
Two young, unknown womenswear designers, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, step up on stage to accept their respective fashion design prizes at the International Wool Secretariat awards. Lagerfeld, then 21, wins the coat category. Saint Laurent, just 18, wins the award for dress design, judged by a panel which included Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain. Fashion history is made.
An international identity for wool is created to increase consumer confidence and represent quality standards. Italian graphic artist Francesco Saroglia designs the Woolmark logo featuring five black bands criss-crossing to form a skein-shape perfectly represent the softness, elegance and modernity of wool. Today the Woolmark logo is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands.
The Woolmark Company connects the world’s biggest names in fashion, including Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace and Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, with emerging designers of their choice for the Protégé program. The resultant collections are presented in Florence in January and in Sydney in May during Australian Fashion Week.
The Woolmark Prize was held in Paris in 2008 and revived the original International Wool Secretariat awards. Chinese designer Qiu Hao was the winner and received financial support along with assistance in sourcing materials.
The International Woolmark Prize is revived, spotlighting fashion stars from hotspots in more than 20 countries before a who’s who of the international fashion industry. The $100,00 prize includes the opportunity for the winner’s designs to be commercialized and sold in the world’s top boutiques and department stores.
Christian Wijnants snares the coveted International Woolmark Prize during London Fashion Week. The Belgium-based designer took a single piece of yarn as his starting point and explored all of its potential, including applying the shibori technique, to create unique shapes and molded around the body like sculpture.
Rahul Mishra wins the International Woolmark Prize during Milan Fashion Week. Inspired by Maurits Cornelis Escher, the capsule range of delicate embroidery examines the eight-petal lotus and its similarities to the complex structure modern cities. The designs reflect the lifecycle of wool from its natural state on the land to the concrete cities where it’s redesigned and reinvented.
In response to industry demand, the International Woolmark Prize expands to include a separate category for menswear, which is held during London Collections: Men in London. The inaugural menswear prize is won by American label Public School and judged by an esteemed panel including Paul Smith, Dylan Jones, Tim Blanks and Nick Wooster.
A travelling female architect provides the inspiration for 2015 International Woolmark Prize winner Marcia Patmos. The American designer creates a capsule wardrobe for the modern global nomad that impresses a panel including Victoria Beckham and Angelica Cheung for the final held in Beijing during the Chinese Year of the Sheep.
Indian menswear label SUKETDHIR was announced as the winner of the 2015/2016 International Woolmark Prize menswear award, presented at a special event at Pitti Uomo, Florence. The winning collection marries traditional techniques, such as Ikat, with modern silhouettes and was judges by an esteemed panel including Haider Ackermann, Suzy Menkes and Imran Amed.