The International Woolmark Prize is an annual celebration of designers who showcase the innovative application of Australian Merino wool in fashion, with each of the 10 finalists asked to present six looks crafted from the versatile textile.
Central Saint Martin's graduate and former Kanye West and Supreme consultant Edward Crutchely won the 2019 prize with a unanimous vote – as well as a separate prize for innovation – for his Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Business of Fashion critic Tim Blanks, who was on the judging panel alongside stylist Marc Goehring and Highsnobiety founder David Fischer, commented: "it's thrilling to see something that’s so advanced but so utterly desirable, the combination of antique tradition and absolute futurism was just stunning.”
You'll be able to shop each of the 10 finalist's Woolmark collections next fall. In the meantime, we've rounded up some of the best products already available from the nominees – all of whom receive AU$70,000 development funding for making it to the final round.
Scroll on to explore the Woolmark Prize 2020 finalists.
Samuel Ross / A-COLD-WALL*
Samuel Ross' high-end streetwear label is one of the most pivotal brands to emerge from London in recent years. The conceptual designs and industrious color schemes put A-COLD-WALL* on the map, and the shoulders of detail-orientated streetwear fans everywhere.
Ross, who has recently released his third collaboration with Oakley, caught the attention of the Woolmark Prize panel through sustainable packaging, natural fibers, recycled nylons, and vegetable-based dyeing processes.
Highsnobiety has been championing fellow Berlin-based brand GmbH since its early days, and more recently we sat down with creative directors Benjamin A. Huseby and Serhat Isik for the latest issue of Highsnobiety magazine.
The brand is notable for the way Huseby and Isik elevate sartorial codes from formative experiences as children of European immigrants. For its early collections, GmbH (it's pronounced geh-em-beh-hah) didn't even use labels on clothing as it was regarded a waste of material, and the most recent SS20 collection (a highlight from Paris Fashion Week) used vegan leather from apple waste, wadding from plastic bottles, and recycled polyamide from ocean waste.
Ludovic De Saint Sernin
Ludovic De Saint Sernin was spotlighted on our Under The Radar series some time ago, back when the Parisian-based designer's Million-Dollar Eyelet Brief was going viral on Instagram at Paris Fashion Week. It set a tone for a new menswear label that put male sensuality at the forefront of its design ethos.
The SS20 collection "Wet n Wild" continued this idea with semi-transparent fabrics and wet-look shirts, all created between his studio and Paris-based ateliers to help manage production in a hands-on way to offset the label's carbon footprint.
Matthew Adams Dolan
Matthew Adams Dolan is known for cultivating a modern American style that emphasizes proportion and forward-thinking craftsmanship. The SS20 collection – presented at New York Fashion Week earlier this year – posited a kind neo-prep aesthetic that riffed off collegiate style codes with oversized rugby sweaters worn as dresses, broad-shouldered rowing blazers, and oversized shirts styled with long socks and black platforms.
Richard Malone is an Irish designer working between Wexford, Ireland, and London. Graduating from Central Saint Martin's, Malone's sculptural creations have been lauded for incorporating a degree of practicality into the realm of avant-garde womenswear, with pockets among the functional inclusions.
Richard Malone uses GOTS-certified organic cotton, plant-based dyes, recycled nylons, and organic matters and ensures that his production is limited, asserting that every single piece he produces needs to be special to justify its creation.
Blindness is a Korean brand known for its generous inclusion of pearls and frill within its bold and genderless silhouettes. Designers Shin Kyu Yong and Ji Sun introduced the label to the international runway circuit with their Spring/ Summer 2019 collection, a romantic and cross-cultural disruption of the binary norm. In shades of taupe, black, and dusty pink, Blindness showed a new ruffled silhouette on the leg in a feminine, transparent, tulle-like material that was styled with tartan, vests, blazers and oversized Oxford shirts.
Feng Chen Wang
Chinese-born menswear designer Feng Chen Wang launched her label in 2015 after graduating from the Royal College of Art, focusing on technical outerwear. The label recently dropped a sneaker collaboration with Converse, rendering the iconic Chuck 70 High Top in full-grain leather with synthetic overlays.
Namacheko comes from siblings Dilan and Lezan Lurr who were born in Kirkuk, Kurdistan and raised in Sweden, where they are both now based.
The label scored a big street style hit this year with its FW19 sweaters which saw painterly swirls on loose-fit mohair/wool blend sweaters inspired by Van Gogh, de Kooning, and Munch. Meanwhile, the SS20 collection went in an even more conceptual direction – fishing hats and glass zip ties – to complement the new multi-colored panel T-shirts.
BOTTER is led by design duo Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who are based in The Netherlands. The label is notable for drawing on Botter's Carribean roots and working them into contemporary menswear pieces. Botter — also nominated for the covetable LVMH prize in the past — can also count Naomi Campbell and Young Thug among its fans.
New York-based menswear designer – and CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year – Emily Bode has been attracting fans to her eponymous label via antique textiles and passion for painstakingly sourced abstract materials, as seen in the FW19 transparent raincoat that was lined with pennies.
For the Spring/Summer 2020 collection BODE offered silk pajama sets, vintage-looking suede jackets, and sharp striped suiting tempered with some feminine embroidery on the legs and lace shirts underneath, positioning the label at the forefront of the new menswear movement of deconstructed formal-wear.
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