The road to Milan has been a challenging but exciting one for Christopher Esber and his competitors. In a few months he has had to design and create a six-piece Merino wool capsule collection which not only has the 'wow' factor to impress a panel of industry heavyweights, but a collection which also has to pass a strict set of industry specifications to gain the Woolmark stamp of approval.
"It's almost like the Fashion Olympics; it feels like I’m really representing the country," Esber says just weeks before the global final which will be staged during Milan Fashion Week. "I think for me and the brand it's a big recognition to be entrusted with that."
For Esber, this is the first time he has been able to showcase his craftsmanship on an international scale, and whilst he may be suppressing those inevitable butterflies in his stomach, he appears his usual cool, calm and collected self and reminisces of when he first started to make a name for the Christopher Esber brand and tap into the Australian market.
"It's my first time doing anything internationally, so it's been quite amazing. It kind of feels like when I first started out in Australia; it's like a new market and doing all that initial prep work.
"What's so unique about this competition is that it's not just about my brand, but how my brand works with wool, so trying to find what is the right message and all the processes we need to do with developing and testing really pushes for something quite unique, and I’m hoping that the results really sends that message across."
Part of the requirements for each designer's capsule collection is that each garment is made from at least 80 per cent Merino wool. In addition, they must also meet The Woolmark Company’s specifications which ensure fibre content and guarantee quality, so choosing the right fabric is important for the designers whilst also toying with new techniques and technical advancements.
At the Australia regional event held in July 2013, Esber was awarded for utilising innovative wool product developments in the form of deconstructed suiting and so it seems the choice - and use - of fabrics is something that Esber holds close to his heart.
"I guess I want to empower women - having something that's strong and empowered when you wear it but also there's something quite delicate and feminine about it."
Asia finalist prepares for 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize
Europe finalist prepares for 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize
USA finalist prepares for 2013/14 International Woolmark Prize