“Knitwear is not what you’d associate with our brand,” admits Matthew Dainty, one half, alongside Ben Cottrell, of COTTWEILER. “So we wanted to create something that had the appearance of what we do, but the properties of the Merino wool brief that we were given.” In what amounts to a sophisticated performance layering system, COTTWEILER’s winning International Woolmark Prize collection comprises sheer Merino wool base-layers, windproof mid-layers and quilted waterproof outerwear, with wool-blend fabrics ranging from 18.5 microns through to 19.5 microns, and recycled wool scraps used for insulation. The resultant collection brings COTTWEILER’s brand of fetish-infused cult and tribe codes into the world of wool, with utilitarian detailing – padded hoods, detachable cargo pockets, running caps, and elasticised hems and cuffs, for example – at its core.
“COTTWEILER is working with wool in a highly original way that mixes sports, tailoring, streetwear and fashion, and I think that represents a new dimension in menswear,” said Jefferson Hack, the CEO and Co-Founder of Dazed Media, after the judging session. Shayne Oliver, the Creative Director of Hood By Air, agreed, adding: “COTTWEILER seems past wanting to show off and are very relaxed and confident in themselves and what they show. They know where to go with this funding and it will give them the push to get to the level they deserve to be at.”
Having met at Bristol University, where they graduated in 2006, Cottrell went on to work for Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng, and Dainty for British designer Kim Jones. In 2008, they began to rent a work studio together, forming the beginnings of what has evolved to become COTTWEILER.
“We were very anti-branding,” the designers explain. “Having also worked for other brands where branding was a real focus, we wanted to do something that was recognisable through silhouette or quality. We knew that was something that would take a long time for people to recognise but we felt it added value to what we were doing. As we developed, we started taking a more elegant approach to things, trying to fuse the aggression with a softer approach.
“Winning the International Woolmark Prize gives us the opportunity to share what we do with a much bigger, global audience,” explained COTTWEILER after the win. “But for us, the great part of this was the opportunity to work with a different material - Merino wool - because we’re always interested in experimenting with technology and development.”
More than 75 designers from more than 60 countries were nominated for this year’s award, with finalists representing six different regions around the world. The menswear finalists were MÜNN (Asia), Ex Infinitas and (Australia & New Zealand), COTTWEILER (British Isles), TONSURE (Europe), Bounipun (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Rochambeau (USA).
COTTWEILER will now receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business. They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. These include Boutique 1, Boon the Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay Company, Isetan, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, mytheresa.com, The Papilion and ssense.com. All finalists’ collections will also become available for wholesale purchase via Ordre.com.
The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of the official drinks partner Wine Australia, The Westin Paris - Vendôme, along with TONI&GUY, makeup by MAC and health and wellness brand Potion for the 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize global final.