More than 400 designers have been part of the contemporary iteration of the International Woolmark Prize. Here, we track the ascent of its stars.
Since launching his eponymous brand in 2008, Australian fashion designer Dion Lee has grown with strength. Lee established himself at Australian Fashion Week, before presenting for two seasons at London Fashion Week, and then finally settling on the official calendar of New York Fashion Week. In 2012, Dion Lee was the Australian finalist in the International Woolmark Prize, which took place in Milan and, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company, has recently launched a permanent capsule collection titled SUIT, catering to professional women with fine, tailored wool garments.
In 2016, Lee moved his design studio to New York City but maintains a network of 10 standalone retail stores throughout Australia as well as a continually growing global wholesale network, within which wool knitwear and tailoring form a significant portion of his business. In 2017, Lee won the Australian Fashion Laureate, and in 2018 was commissioned to design the uniforms for the Sydney Opera House. His clothes have been worn by Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and HRH The Duchess of Sussex.
Born in Brussels, Christian moved to Antwerp in 1996 to study fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. His graduate collection won the Dries Van Noten Award for best collection in 2000. After graduation, Christian presented his collection at the prestigious Festival d’Hyères, where it was awarded the Grand Prix and picked up by stores including Colette (Paris), Pineal Eye (London), and Via Bus Stop (Tokyo). After working with Van Noten in Antwerp and Angelo Tarlazzi in Paris, Christian launched his eponymous label in 2003.
Wijnants presents his collections in Paris during Paris Fashion Week and is sold at boutiques and department stores worldwide including Le Bon Marché, Tomorrowland and Isetan. Rich, layered graphics and fresh colors translated into eloquent knitwear offer a play of authenticity and luxury that has won him the 2013 International Woolmark Prize, the 2006 ANDAM Award, and the 2005 Swiss Textiles Award. Christian Wijnants is in collaboration with Swarovski for Spring-Summer 2016 and Autumn- Winter 2016 and has been nominated for Swarovski Collective Prize for Innovation. Wijnants opened his first flagship store in Antwerp in September 2015.
Ban Xiaoxue is the brand founder and artistic director of BANXIAOXUE. In 2007, Ban was chosen to attend the China Cutting-Edge Fashion Design Static Exhibition on behalf of the China Fashion Cultural Foundation which was held in Paris. Ban Xiaoxue’s works were recognised and celebrated by key industry players including Jean Jacques Picard and Milan Vukmirovic, and was later announced as the Chinese fashion “Future Star” of the global fashion industry.
Ban Xiaoxue is the International Woolmark Prize 2012/2013 Asia womenswear winner, and has gone on to win many awards in China, including the Most Valuable Commercial Brand by China Trendsindex (2014), Fashion Designer of the Year at the Trends Inspire City Awards (2015) and the Chinese Commercial Brand Innovator Award from the Chinese Commercial Real Estate Association (2016). The designer now maintains some 80 retails stores throughout mainland China and was featured as part of The Woolmark Company’s New World Wool project in partnership with Lane Crawford.
United States, 2013/14
At the age of 25, Paris-born designer Joseph Altuzarra launched his brand, Altuzarra, in New York in 2008 after gaining experience in the ateliers of Proenza Schouler and Givenchy. His namesake brand quickly grew from emerging on the scene to one of the most important fixtures on the New York Fashion Week schedule and Mr Altuzarra began receiving worldwide recognition for his work. In 2011, Joseph Altuzarra won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and in 2012 and a place in Forbes’ 30 under 30.
The following year, Joseph won the 2013 United States regional final of the International Woolmark Prize and went on to compete at the global final in Milan. It was this year that he also sold a minority stake of his label to French luxury conglomerate Kering and went on to receive the highly acclaimed title of Womenswear Designer of the Year Award at the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards. Altuzarra has held a place on the Business of Fashion’s BoF500 consistently since 2013 and recently expanded into accessories, winning the Accessories Council’s Designer of the Year in 2017.
Rahul Mishra founded his namesake womenswear label in 2008 in Mumbai with sustainable, slow-fashion at the core of the brand. Mishra presented his early collections at Lakme Fashion Week until 2013 when he won the regional final of the International Woolmark Prize and then went onto be the first Indian designer to win the global final the following year at Milan Fashion Week.
With his capsule collection that celebrated traditional Indian craft and contemporary design, Rahul Mishra attracted global attention and was subsequently invited to present his work on the official schedule of Paris Fashion Week; a position he still holds today. Mishra has been a part of the BoF500 since 2014 and is considered one of the most important contemporary womenswear designers.
United States, 2014/15
Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow founded New York-based brand Public School in 2008 as a menswear brand. Later adding a womenswear line, Public School combines streetwear details with traditional tailoring fabrics, and has carved out their own space in the urban luxury market. In 2013 Public School won the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. The year following, Public School made the global final of the International Woolmark Prize, presenting their collection on a world stage at London Fashion Week, and took home the inaugural menswear award.
In 2015, Osborne and Chow were named co-creative directors for Donna Karen New York (DKNY); a role they continued until December 2016, and have since focused solely on their brand with their mainline and recent collaborations with the likes of SoulCycle and Nike.
United States, 2014/15
Merging fashion with art, design, and a deep knowledge of manufacturing and production techniques, Marcia Patmos crafts a modern yet timeless clean luxury product. With her collections she creates garments intended to be worn for years, not single seasons. Her aim is to provide an elevated, easy-wearing wardrobe comprised of beautifully made clothing with just as much comfort as style. Recognized for her conscious and innovative design principles, Marcia Patmos was named winner of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation and Lexus Eco-Challenge awards in 2011, as well as the International Woolmark Prize in 2015. In addition to these achievements, she continues involvement in an ongoing series of collaborations with brands and artists such as Club Monaco, Selima Optique, Ryan McGinness and more.
Recently, she has started experimenting in the world of home goods, adding new dimension to her inventive line. A visiting lecturer and critic at Pratt, Parsons and RISD, and as an active member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Marcia openly shares her experience and insights to guide future designers. In 2018, Patmos opened her first standalone store in Brooklyn, New York.
Suket Dhir founded his eponymous label in 2009 and trained at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi. Dhir’s aesthetic is best described as Indo-centric western menswear, achieved through a synergy of regional artisanal techniques with western silhouettes and cuts in exquisite indigenous fabrics.
Following his win of the International Woolmark Prize for menswear in the 2015/16 edition, the designer was featured in a cover story for The Economist’s 1843 magazine, in which he was hailed for bringing age-old Indian manufacturing processes to a contemporary global audience. In 2018, Dhir launched a womenswear collection inspired by his wife.
United Kingdom, 2015/16
The designers behind Teatum Jones, Rob Jones and Catherine Teatum, describe their collections as being inspired by human stories, and approach that won them the International Woolmark Prize 2015/16 for womenswear. Since, the London-based label has been awarded the 2015 UKFT Best Womenswear Designer Award, the 2017 Scottish Fashion Council Hawick Award for Knitwear, the 2017 British Fashion Trust Award, and was shortlist for the 2018 Green Carpet Challenge Award.
The pair are currently the British Library’s Designers in Residence and have garnered critical acclaim for their seasonal runway collections featuring diverse cast members, which has made them one of the most buzzed about brands during London Fashion Week, according to the Business of Fashion.
Born and raised on a Merino sheep station in South Australia, Patrick Johnson trained as a tailor in London with a view dressing men well. When Johnson entered the International Woolmark Prize to represent Australia for menswear in 2015, he maintained a small team and showrooms in Sydney Melbourne, from where he offered made-to-measure suiting. He has since been awarded the GQ Menswear Designer of the Year Award, and now maintains additional showroom spaces in New York and London, while a ready-to-wear collection is now available via Mr Porter and Barneys New York.
In 2018, British GQ wrote that “Britain’s best new tailor doesn’t work on Savile Row... P Johnson is turning the suit industry on its head as London’s hottest new tailoring story.”
United Kingdom, 2016/17
Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty of Cottweiler describe themselves as concept-led designers, an approach that has found them much success in the years since launching their label, which has been awarded the International Woolmark Prize for 2016/17 and, shortly after, was nominated for the Emerging Talent (Menswear) category at the British Fashion Awards.
With stockists spanning the globe, including Galeries Lafayette, Harvey Nichols, Printempts, SSENSE, Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market, the label become widely recognised for its immersive shows and presentations at such establishments as the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Natural History Museum. Cottweiler was the guest designer at Pitti Uomi 91, where they presented their collaboration with Reebok, while other collaborators include Mulberry, Nike and Swarovski.
Under the banner of Münn and with a team of skilled specialists, the Korean label has, since its launch in 2013, garnered a reputation for its progression of the traditional menswear form. Designer Hyun-min graduated from the Samsung Art & Design Institute and gained experience working for well-known local labels Wooyoungmi and Leigh, bringing a high level of skill to Münn since its inception.
Following his place as a finalist in the International Woolmark Prize 2016/17, the designer went on to win the best designer award at Seoul Fashion Week for spring/summer 2019, with prize money equivalent to AU$245,000, and he has been as one of Korea’s top ten designers for the past three years by the Seoul Design Foundation.
United States, 2016/17
Since launching her namesake line four years ago, Uruguay-born, New York-based designer Gabriela Hearst has become known for redefining natural textiles for a new generation of fashion. Having grown up on a ranch surrounded by sheep and cattle, the designer’s focus is on making products with care and detail to ensure their longevity.
Hearst was the 2018 recipient of the Pratt Institute Fashion Visionary Award and nominated for the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award. At the close of the same year, Hearst opened her first flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York, joining her covetable stockist list including Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-Porter and Saks Fifth Avenue.
After studying at Central Saint Martins, Kathleen Kye founded her brand KYE in 2011 with a focus on the streetwear aesthetics that are so prominent in her home city of Seoul. In a considerably short period of time, Kye has achieved great success in showing her mens- and womenswear collections in joint presentations during Seoul Fashion Week, building collaborations with the likes of Shu Uemura and Adidas, and gaining stockist including Galeries Lafayette in Beijing, Isetan in Tokyo, and Opening Ceremony in New York.
In 2014, Kye was nominated for the LVMH Prize and in 2018 competed in the International Woolmark Prize final after winning the Asia regional award. KYE garments are regularly seen on international celebrities, including Kourtney Kardashian and rapper G-Dragon.
Shortly after winning the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize for womenswear, New Delhi-based designer Ruchika Sachdeva of Bodice Studio was inducted into the Business of Fashion’s BOF500 list, joining former winners Gabriela Hearst and Rahul Mishra. Sachdeva’s garments harness traditional Indian manufacturing and garment-making techniques with a wholly contemporary aesthetic, revolutionising the perceived style of Indian womenswear.
United Kingdom, 2017/18
London-based designer Matthew Miller is well known for his innovative use of textiles, and since his win of the menswear category of the International Woolmark Prize 2017/18, he has continued to embrace that ethos, finding new ways of achieving a more sustainable footprint. With an enviable stockist list, an important position on the London Men’s Fashion Week biannual schedule and regular collaborations, such as with British accessories manufacturer Peli, Miller’s profile continues to grow.
United States, 2017/18
DYNE, the Portland-based label of former Nike designer Christopher Bevans, has quickly become known for its tailored performance wear and unwavering focus on fabric and functionality. DYNE was awarded the inaugural Innovation Award at the International Woolmark Prize 2017/18 in Florence, commended for his technical snowboarding wardrobe that comprised a water-repellent wool jacket complete with NFC chip that helps to track users in avalanches. Other details included reflective overlays and inserts, functional pocket zips and two-way fabric stretch. DYNE has since amassed a significant stockist based, including Barneys New York, Lane Crawford and East Dane, begun showing on the New York Fashion Week runway schedule, and was a judge of the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge.