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Matthew Adams Dolan – The Seafarer

2020 International Woolmark Prize finalist


Taking cues from America’s utilitarian sartorial history, Matthew Adams Dolan has built his brand centered around the legacy and duality of American dress, offering the proposition of a new ‘American Style’, brought into the present through the use of exaggerated silhouettes, experimental proportions and forward- thinking craftsmanship.

An international upbringing - a young Adams Dolan spent time in Australia, rural Japan and Switzerland - gave him a worldly view when it came to fashion. But it was his intrigue and passion for American iconography which saw him delve deeper into the tradition and heritage of American fashion.

For his International Woolmark Prize collection, Adams Dolan explores the legacies of America’s maritime history; silhouettes, textiles and graphic ideas are at once taken from traditions of foul weather gear and wool’s seafaring past along with its inherent water repellent and thermoregulating properties provide inspiration for the collection. Naval coats and fishermen’s sweaters from the fabled whaling ports of Nantucket and New Bedford of Melville’s seminal text Moby Dick collide with reinterpreted sailing kits and nautical references now synonymous with New England prep culture and its lasting influence on American sportswear.

“I was also interested in the narrative of the craft of 19th Century mariners, who isolated at sea for long periods, created wool embroideries and scrimshaw carvings as mementos for loved ones, and wanted to imbue the collection with an appreciation of handcraft and reflection,” explains Adams Dolan.

I wanted my International Woolmark Prize collection to be a more personal reflection of decisions I have made in moving the business forward, whilst concurrently highlighting the naturally inherent qualities of wool as a material and how this has been documented in history.
Matthew Adams Dolan
Matthew Adams Dolan

Now based in Italy, the brand explores the craftsmanship of ‘Made in Italy’ and the storied legacy of fine suitings and tailoring, sourcing all fabrics from leading Italian wool mills, such as Botto Giuseppe and Tollegno 1900. In an exploration of wool and its history in craft, textiles in the International Woolmark Prize collection pay homage to another Italian textile tradition, with the geometric designs of Bargello woollen needlepoint, historically used as a means of creating durable upholstery, used to create structure and graphic distorted stripes throughout the collection.

“I made the decision to completely relocate myself and all operations to Italy in order to be closer and work more seamlessly with my manufacturers and the mills which I have been working with, placing an emphasis on local and centralised sourcing, manufacturing and distribution processes.”

Positioning wool as a forward-thinking and sustainable textile, Adams Dolan explores the weather-proof and water-resistant properties of wool through both traditional boiled wool style yarns as well as developments in high-tech water and oil repelling yarns. 

Matthew Adams Dolan

Positioning wool as a forward-thinking and sustainable textile, Adams Dolan explores the weather-proof and water-resistant properties of wool through both traditional boiled wool style yarns as well as developments in high-tech water and oil repelling yarns. Double-faced outerwear fabrics have been specially designed to enhance these natural qualities, while maintaining the luxurious feel and comfort associated with wearing wool garments.

“In my research throughout the scope of the competition, there are undoubtably a number of impressive and interesting developments that have been made at a material level, from waterproof coatings and membranes to other performance-enhancing technologies.

“I wanted my International Woolmark Prize collection to be a more personal reflection of decisions I have made in moving the business forward, whilst concurrently highlighting the naturally inherent qualities of wool as a material and how this has been documented in history.”

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