Munsoo Kwon and J Koo were today announced as the menswear and womenswear winners respectively, of the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize Asia regional final, at an awards event held at the Hotel Indigo Shanghai On The Bund in Shanghai, China.
A judging panel comprising of Thom Browne, Lu Yan, Cyril Rahon, Michael Mok, Candy Lee and Melissa Grace selected Munsoo Kwon as the menswear winner and J Koo as the winner for the womenswear category.
“As a first time judge for the International Woolmark Prize, I was fascinated by all the new technology and treatments explored by the designers,” remarked designer Thom Browne. “Many designs left a strong impression on us, and knowing that these designers had to do it all on their own from sourcing and developing the fabric to the final manufacture and presentation, it is certainly no easy feat.”
Commenting on the importance of the prize in helping emerging designers become both a successful brand and a business, Chinese supermodel and Comme Moi founder Lu Yan says: “The International Woolmark Prize supporting designers beyond the competition is key – helping designers develop their collection into a commercial reality through a network of prestigious retail partners, allows the brand to grow as a business; the possibilities are endless.”
While Munsoo Kwon impressed the judges with his elegant treatment of wool to create a textured ombre effect on his well-tailored suit, Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo of J Koo won due to their innovative treatment of 100% wool denim fabric, using bleach to create a washed out effect.
“This is one of the most important moment of my life,” stated Kwon as he accepted his award on stage, adding: “to receive this prize from a judging panel that consists of Thom Browne, the feeling is incredible.”
“From the moment we were nominated to compete, we had always wanted to create something surprising with wool,” explained Choi. Koo adds, “We also wanted to make wool more of an easy-care fabric, and this treatment speaks to that, both in the finished effect and fabric care.”
Chosen from amongst the twelve most promising talents in Asia fashion design, both winners gain a financial contribution of AU$50,000 (approximately 230,000RMB) plus the opportunity to represent Asia and compete in the prestigious international final. The final for menswear will be held in Florence in January 2016, and the womenswear final will be held in New York in February 2016.
For the next six to seven months, the winning designers will be required to develop a capsule collection in Merino wool, to be showcased at one of two extraordinary events that will highlight the six menswear finalists and six womenswear finalists selected from across the globe.
The finalists will compete for the coveted International Woolmark Prize, the winners being awarded an additional AU$100,000 (approximately 460,000RMB) and the opportunity to be stocked in the most important retailers of the world, including Harvey Nichols (London), 10 Corso Como (Milan, Beijing and Shanghai), Matchesfashion.com (online), Mytheresa.com (online), Saks Fifth Avenue (NYC), Joyce (China and Hong Kong), Boutique 1 (UAE) and David Jones (Australia).
The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough explains: “The International Woolmark Prize is our commitment to educating the next generation of fashion industry leaders about the extraordinary potential of Merino wool, and we congratulate Munsoo Kwon and J Koo on their win.
“With the number of countries represented the largest yet, the International Woolmark Prize is a truly global celebration of emerging talent and most importantly provides the winning designers with a unique opportunity for commercial success on a global scale.”
Acknowledgement: 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize Asia Regional Final would like to give a special thank you to the MAC Cosmetics make-up team for their creative contribution and beauty expertise as well as the hair-styling team from the VIDAL SASSOON Academy Shanghai and the VIDAL SASSOON brand for their professional hair service and stellar support.