Six of the world’s most promising emerging design talents have been selected for the 2021 International Woolmark Prize.
The 2021 International Woolmark Prize finalists are Bethany Williams and Matty Bovan from the U.K., France’s Casablanca, Kenneth Ize from Nigeria, Canada’s Lecavalier and South Africa’s Thebe Magugu.
An expert advisory council chose the finalists from more than 380 applicants spanning 55 countries. The six finalists showcased a commitment to upholding the prize’s pillars of product excellence, innovation, supply-chain transparency, sustainability and inclusivity.
“It is my pleasure to support the International Woolmark Prize,” supermodel and advisory council member Naomi Campbell said in a statement. “Now more so than ever, in these incredibly challenging times for our industry, we must continue to support and nurture the emerging voices in fashion design. They are the future, and I look forward to seeing what creative and innovative work comes out of this year’s entries to push our industry’s ongoing mission in diversity and sustainability.”
In 2021, the six finalists will present a merino wool fashion collection highlighting transparency throughout their supply chain with NFC technology from partner Blue Bite and a Common Objective sustainability roadmap. The 2021 theme “less is more” will celebrate slow and responsibly produced fashion and craftsmanship, the cornerstones of emerging designer businesses. Each garment will tell a story and shine light on the supply chain.
One finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize and receive 200,000 Australian dollars ($146,000) to invest in the development of their business. The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be presented once again and can be awarded to the International Woolmark Prize winner or a finalist, with the winner receiving 100,000 Australian dollars ($73,000).
This year will also see the introduction of the Woolmark Supply Chain Award, celebrating outstanding contribution from a trade partner to drive awareness for wool supply chain innovation. All finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s leading stores through the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.
The Woolmark Company also announced this year’s Innovation Academy partners CommonObjective, Queen of Raw, BYBORRE, Blue Bite, TIPA, Hologarment and the program’s 43 international supply-chain partners. The Innovation Academy program supports finalists with early stage investment, product research and development, mentoring, networking and commerce support.
The 2021 Innovation Academy will expand to support emerging designers, businesses and students globally through Industry Masterclasses, a series of live talks with industry experts from The Woolmark Company’s network of partners to provide insights and support to grow a sustainable business.
The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of about 60,000 woolgrowers that help fund the company.