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Two Finalists Take Home Top Honors at Munich’s Adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge

While there was only one trophy, there were two winners at the Adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge on Nov 16. in Munich.

Hyokyoung Lee from the Institut Français de la Mode in France and Hope Kemp-Hanson from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga., both took home top honors. The Adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge showcases new ideas and ways of incorporating Australian merino wool into performance products.

Although both contestants technically won the competition, Lee took home the grand prize of 10,000 euros ($11,073) while Kemp-Hanson will attend a three-month internship at Adidas to further develop her career.

“At Adidas we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives,” Tillman Studrucker, a senior design director at Adidas and competition judge, said. “The concepts presented by Hope and Hyokyoung were the most impressive ideas enabling people to experience the transformative power of sport by combining innovation, style and the functional benefits of wool.”

Lee’s winning idea created a base layer of merino wool that can generate energy when applied to performance apparel, using motion and friction to power wearables or transmit data. Applications could include monitoring vital signs for athletes and workers in high-risk professions. Adidas and Woolmark said the prize money was awarded to Lee as her idea was “commercially viable” and would be best supported by a lump-sum investment.

Hope’s project, on the other hand, was inspired by the South Korean skate movement, a community built around the sport of ice skating. Her idea was to create a line of merino-wool-based skate equipment that featured hidden padding and safety equipment in what was described as a “satirical look” look at the country’s sporting aficionados.

“It’s been such an amazing opportunity not just within pushing the innovation and learning of wool, but becoming a part of this group of people, an incredible, new design family,” Hope said. “I feel so honored, humbled, and beyond appreciative to have been a part of this journey.”

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The competition was created two years ago via Woolmark’s partnership with Adidas and, this year, it attracted 1,060 students from 21 countries and 115 separate educational institutions. It was open to students in both Europe and North America.

“Despite its long history in apparel, the unique natural properties of Australian Merino wool positions it as a leading technical fiber in today’s sports and outdoor industry,” Julie Davies, the Woolmark Company’s general manager, said. “We saw that evidenced today with the incredible diversity of ideas presented by the finalists of this year’s Woolmark Performance Challenge.”