2018/19 International Woolmark Prize New York semi-final winners announced

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ALBUS LUMEN from Australia, and Brandon Maxwell, Colovos and WILLY CHAVARRIA, all from the United States, were announced as the winners of the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize New York semi-final.

The four semi-final winners were chosen by a panel comprising Hudson’s Bay & The Room Fashion Director Tyler Franch; Designer, Founder and Creative Director of Gabriela Hearst; Diet Prada Co-founders Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler; W Magazine Editor-In-Chief Stefano Tonchi; Ordre.com Fashion Director and Founder Kirsten Lock; Council Of Fashion Designers Of America CEO Steven Kolb; Carfrae Consulting Founder and International Woolmark Prize mentor Malcolm Carfrae; The Woolmark Company Head of Americas Michelle Lee; and GQ Creative Director-At-Large Jim Moore selected the four winners.

International Woolmark Prize New York semi-final judging panel

“I thought the level of talent was very impressive, which made it very hard to choose the winners,” said designer and former International Woolmark Prize winner Gabriela Hearst. “What really impressed me, beyond design and innovation, was how many designers have sustainability at the core of their brand.”

“I was impressed by the level of technical development that we saw, because you often don’t get to see that in typical fashion presentations - it’s not until you touch it and you feel it that you can really understand what people are doing with the fibre,” said Lindsey Schuyler of Diet Prada. Added Tony Liu: “Seeing firsthand the development process of the fabrics of the future, and the possibilities of [the designers’] creativity, was really exciting.”

“We saw some really interesting pieces of technical research from the designers,” said Stefano Tonchi. “I liked the international feeling of the prize’s format and the way we were able to see fashion as being part of designers’ natural heritage and culture.”

Albus Lumen, from Australia

ALBUS LUMEN proposes to use Australian Merino wool in a way that challenges common misconceptions about the fibre while emphasising ALBUS LUMEN’s easy, free spirit. The all-white capsule collection, titled 'Para Interna' (Latin for Pure Discovery), highlights the ethereal lightness of Merino wool and focuses on the textural possibilities of the fabrics.

ALBUS LUMEN’s use of small-scale quilting and the textural effects created by mixing Australian Merino wool with linen and silk blends adds subtle yet striking contrasts to the all-white palette, while shell and baroque pearl surface detailing - both ALBUS LUMEN signatures - enhance the lightness and the natural beauty of Australian Merino wool.

“It is extremely exciting to be taking ALBUS LUMEN to the next level using Merino wool and using new technologies,” said designer Marino Afonina.

Brandon Maxwell, from the USA

Brandon Maxwell’s collection concept is inspired by the country clubbers, sailors, yachters, golfers and power walkers; and also those who would rather look as if they are going to perform an endurance activity but instead opt for a nice glass of champagne at the bar. This capsule collection can cover the wearer for any activity; the fabric technology can handle full activity performance and the design is created to make the wearer look fabulous doing anything or nothing at all. In doing so, Brandon Maxwell creates a more chic athleisure wear market where the need for comfortability is met with well-constructed design.

Using innovative knitting technology to create seamless, luxury, sportswear garments that are comfortable, fashionable, and high performing, this collection highlights the technical benefits of wool in the athleisure market.

“It’s really incredible to win this award because wool is not something I necessarily knew a lot about and that took months and months of studying about,” said Brandon Maxwell. “It means that we now get to do something in our company that we have been dreaming about.”

Colovos, from the USA

Inspired by chic vintage tennis, archery and cycling uniforms as well as the early-1930s and -40s workwear created from wool before the advent of synthetic fibers, Colovos' collection references classic wool sportswear and workwear throughout history, updated with modern proportions and patterning techniques.

The collection is made of lightweight wools that are comfortable, seasonless and effortless and can be worn everyday just like your favourite pair of jeans. Colovos sourced new wool qualities with innovative weaving techniques and contemporary finishes that evoke the look and feel of other natural fabrics like denim, cotton poplin, and silk, but with a more elevated feel with all the benefits and natural innovative properties of wool.

“Winning this award is amazing and can really help propel our brand, so we are super honoured,” said Colovos co-founder Michael Colovos. Added Nicole Colovos: “We are overwhelmed but super happy and are excited to be able to bring this collection concept to life.”

Willy Chavarria, from the USA

Workwear and futurism were the guides in WILLY CHAVARRIA’s most sustainable and technically advanced collection to date. By working with The Bear Scouts and the Suedwolle Group in Germany, the designer sourced the best sustainable yarns and suppliers to develop body map base layer garments for both athletic and leisure wear. “This collection is the story of the American experience,” says Chavarria.

Optimistic and titled FUTURISMO, the collection embraces both the traditional aspects of wool with innovation and its plush, comforting qualities. Bold silhouettes are surprisingly soft to the touch, and outerwear looks strong and powerful but feel nurturing with Merino wool lining. Styles combine American blue-collar workwear with the function of technical athletic apparel, on which Chavarria says: “I see this as the present and the future.” An oversized woven zip hoodie is worn with knitted pants made with body-mapping technology to combine and contrast comfort with space-age engineering, in fits that are more relaxed than typical sportswear.

“I’m extremely honoured to win this prize and excited to explore some things I had in mind, including exploring European production,” said Willy Chavarria. “I’m really happy to share this with my team.”

With winners chosen from more than 300 applicants from some 46 countries, the prize highlights some of the most promising fashion design talent from across the globe. The New York semi-final winners will be among the 12 global finalists selected at three semi-final events held in July Hong Kong, London and New York, who will each receive a financial contribution of AU$70,000 (US$52,000) for the development of their business and capsule collection. The final 12 will compete in the prestigious global final to be held in London in February 2019. They will be mentored by a global panel of experts, be offered showcasing opportunities, and receive a Woolmark license, from one of the world’s best-known textile quality fibre brands, providing a unique, global fibre quality assurance for their customers.

“Now in its seventh year the International Woolmark Prize has evolved into one of the biggest fashion awards of its calibre and so we have restructured the program to ensure our nominees and finalists receive the highest level of industry support and guidance,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.

“The exceptional quality demonstrated by this year’s designers not only reinforces the strength of the award but also proves Australian wool’s relevance on the global stage. Wool’s inherent benefits combined with its eco-credentials provide designers with countless possibilities and I am excited to see what innovative designs are showcased at the global final next year.”

The designers from the 2018/19 International Woolmark prize New York semi-final

For the next seven months, each of the 12 global finalists will be required to develop a capsule collection of six looks in Merino wool, to be showcased at the grand final in London in February. At that extraordinary event, one menswear and one womenswear winner will receive a further AU$200,000, together with mentoring from industry experts to help propel their business to the next stage.

One finalist will also be chosen for the second edition of the Innovation Award which celebrates the most innovative and creative wool fabrications, process or development and rewards the finalist with a further AU$100,000. This generous award was made for the first time in 2017, and reflects The Woolmark Company’s long-term commitment to the future development - and design possibilities -of this iconic fibre. The total combined amount a prize winner has the potential to win is AU$370,000. Winners will have the opportunity to have their collection distributed through the prize’s prestigious international retail partner network which includes Boutique 1, Boon the Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay Company, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, Mytheresa.com, Parlour X, SSENSE.com, Sugar, Takashimaya, Tata CLIQ Luxury and ORDRE.com. The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of online wholesale platform ORDRE.com for the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize.

In line with The Woolmark Company’s ethos of supporting emerging design talent the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize trophy was created by Central Saint Martin’s MA Material Futures graduate Charlotte Kidger. With an elegant yet bold form the trophy is designed allows its medium material - the waste plastic was derived from the Computer Numerical Control fabrication process- to be seen and celebrated in its raw form.

“The aim of this body of work was to find ways of utilizing and repurposing industrial material waste streams diverting the material from landfill sites and incineration. Finding beauty in this abundant source of raw material I have transformed it from waste to something of desirability and beauty with longevity and durability at its forefront,” explains Charlotte.

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