The almost year-long process of choosing a victor for the 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize is already underway, with 68 designers entrenched in studios around the world preparing their personal style statement on the wonder of wool.
Five regional finalists will meet at London Collections: Men in January 2015 to determine the international winner of the menswear award, followed in March by the womenswear finals held in Beijing. Each will receive AU$100,000 to build their brand as well as have their winning collection stocked in IWP’s high-profile retail partners around the world, including Harvey Nichols (UK), Joyce (China), Saks Fifth Avenue (USA), Colette (France), 10 Corso Como (Italy), David Jones (Australia), My Theresa online along with its newest retail partner ISETAN Mitsukoshi (Japan).
The competing designers nominated by eminent fashion industry bodies around the world—including IMG Australia, the Council of Fashion Designers America, British Fashion Council and Chambre Syndicale de la Couture - were announced earlier this year. In the ensuing months they have been hard at work preparing concepts for a capsule collection made from Merino wool.
The road to the finals is a long one. The nominees will each go head-to-head against other labels from their region in a series of events held in July 2014, where they will present sketches of their six-piece collection along with producing one full outfit. A panel of local and international fashion experts are tasked with choosing each regional winner.
Each of the ten finalists that emerge from this process receive AU$50,000 and an invitation to head to the international final for the chance to take home the 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize.
"Previous winners of the competition, Christian Wijnants from Belgium and Rahul Mishra from India, have both experienced exponential increase in the turnover of their businesses, becoming international names overnight after their respective wins in London in 2013 and Milan in 2014," explained The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough.
The IWP now boasts impressive alumni of the most important designers from around the globe, as well as partnerships established with some of the most successful leading designers including Victoria Beckham, Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Narciso Rodriguez and Richard Nicoll.
2014/15 International Woolmark Prize contenders prepare to test their mettle