“When we produce a collection it’s to involve people,” says McCreery. “It’s not about the ‘I’, its about the ‘us’. It’s about Sibling, it’s about being a family.”
With a strong knitwear focus, the London-based label might seem an obvious choice to take out the European regional competition of the 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize (IWP), but Angela Missoni, creative director of Missoni and a member of the IWP judging panel, says the competition from the ten finalists was fierce.
"The message that we always end up putting out there is that it’s about a youthful, positive, fun energy." Sid Bryan
“The group of the nominees was of a very high level, and we struggled to take the decision,” said Missoni. “At the end, we decided for SIBLING because they demonstrated to be the more complete and mature label, and their creative research, joint with their knowledge of wool and knitwear, was the key factor.”
The winning design, a knitted wool bodysuit and jacket encapsulated the SIBLING signature DNA, a celebration of youthfulness, fun and optimism.
Announcing the win at Palazzo Crespi in Milan, Missoni was joined by fellow judges Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italy and L’Uomo Vogue editor-in-chief; fashion commentator Colin McDowell; Le Figaro editor-at-large Godfrey Deeny; Tim Blanks, Style.com editor-at-large, and Susanne Botschen, mytheresa.com founder.
“The level of talent this year was remarkable. The jury was faced with a real challenge,” agreed Blanks. “But SIBLING won because they created the perfect storm: stunning technique, a crazy level of creativity and a keen appreciation of wool’s endless potential.”
After taking out the AUD$50,000 regional award, the trio will return to Milan next year in a bid to secure the international IWP ahead of four other finalists and to capitalise on the exposure the award has brought them.
“It’s the prestige of being associated to Woolmark what makes us happy, and the fact that, with the final event being held during Milan Fashion Week on February 2014, we will have the opportunity to approach the Italian market and reach a global exposure,” said the designers. “Winning the Woolmark European award is a recognition of our passion for Merino wool.”
“For us there’s always a way of making something possible.” Cozette McCreery
There is still the task of designing a capsule Merino wool collection for the Milan finals, but SIBLING gives little away in the direction they will take—assuming they themselves even know yet.
“We try never to make a concept,” says Bates. “We found that people [are] almost dictatorial with their concepts.”
“It’s about pushing the boundaries,” Bryan says.
The collection taken to the Milan final by the winning designer will subsequently be stocked in the best fashion stores in the world: Harvey Nichols (London), Saks Fifth Avenue (New York), 10 Corso Como (Milan), Joyce (China), David Jones (Australia) and My Theresa (Germany and online).
The IWP aims to unearth the fashion stars of tomorrow and encourage a new generation of talent from all corners of the globe—and McDowell believes there is much out there to be discovered.
“There is still room for an individual to say something that is worthwhile,” declares McDowell. “We have a winner today which has a unique voice.”