The UK designer Edward Crutchley and the US based husband-and-wife design duo Michael and Nicole Colovos’ namesake label Colovos were announced the winners of the menswear and womenswear 2019 International Woolmark Prize on 18 February, 2019, presented at a star-studded event during London Fashion Week. Crutchley was also announced the winner of the Innovation Award, celebrating the most innovative or sustainable approach to systems production, materials, textile design or product design.
The award, staged at Lindley Hall was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Alber Elbaz, Tim Blanks, Laura Brown, Sinead Burke, Gwendoline Christie, Julie Davies, David Fischer, Colette Garnsey, Marc Goehring, Gert Jonkers, Floriane de Saint Pierre and Sara Sozzani Maino along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.
“There were 12 great designers today from around the world,” explained Alber Elbaz. “It was quite wonderful to see designers from places like Korea, China and Sweden, because sometimes in fashion we think everything happens in Paris, so this was a reminder that the world is big and fashion comes from everywhere around the world.”
Menswear and Innovation Award winner: Edward Crutchley
Hailing from the UK, unisex label Edward Crutchley’s work is grounded in an innate understanding and appreciation of artisanal textiles.“I think it speaks volumes that there is a such a clear consensus on the winner of the International Woolmark Prize this year for Menswear and Innovation,” said Tim Blanks. “I don’t think there’s ever been a designer like Edward Crutchley in the competition. I find the whole idea of him being a winner and the figurehead of creative innovative use of wool in the fashion industry so exciting. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.”
By exploring global cultural references and aspects of material culture, Crutchley’s garments push the boundaries of form, silhouette and surface. Looking outside of traditional cultural signifiers to more sub-cultural references, Crutchley fuses a biker jacket with an 18th Century frock coat, reimagines the grungy tie-die on an American college knit with the help of the head of Kyoto Guild of Shibori Masters and references the cowboy’s role within America’s identity.
“This win means everything,” says Crutchley. “It has changed my life forever. It’s going to change the way I design and approach everything. I’m incredibly flattered.All of these references come together in a collection made from 100% Merino wool. I have used a wide range of techniques that celebrate the touch of the artisan. My approach to innovation within this collection has been very much focused on artisanal skills and how these can be celebrated and used in a relevant and modern way. Every fabric I have used is exclusive and developed solely for this collection.”
Womenswear winner: Colovos
Husband and wife duo Michael and Nicole Colovos’ winning womenswear collection referenced classic wool sportswear and workwear throughout history yet updated this concept with modern proportions and patterning techniques.
“Colovos’ work stood out for its quiet evidence,” explained Floriane de Saint Pierre. “Its pure design aesthetics, genuine functionality and the amazing and innovative use of super-light wool, combined with the founders’ attention to sustainability, make them deserve this great award and recognition.”
Sourcing innovative wool fabrications with contemporary finishes that evoke the look and feel of denim and silk; comfortable, effortless and trans-seasonal wool fabrics were created. The tailored coats, pants and skirts are made from wool that is completely traceable, washable and colour- and shrink-proof.
“Our goal was to create a luxury, modern collection with a fully sustainable proposition,” explained Michael Colovos. “We are committed to principles of zero waste in manufacturing, so all production waste and end-of-life garments will be recycled to create new fabrics, a process that uses steam, heat and citrus to breakdown the fabric waste and create a new fibre to be spun into fully recyclable yarns.”
The International Woolmark Prize
Chosen from more than 300 entrants from across the world, the 12 finalists at this year’s award were: ALBUS LUMEN – Australia; ANGEL CHEN – China; Brandon Maxwell – United States; CMMN SWDN – Sweden; Colovos – United States; DANIEL w. FLETCHER – United Kingdom; EDWARD CRUTCHLEY – United Kingdom; i-am-chen – Hong Kong; Nicholas Daley – United Kingdom; Willy Chavarria – United States; Yohei Ohno – Japan; and YOUSER – Korea.
“What I love about the International Woolmark Prize for emerging designers is that it gives a sense of stability and support and that’s so missing and rare in the fashion industry – the idea of being able to further designers’ careers,” said Gwendoline Christie.
Both Edward Crutchley and Colovos will each receive AU$200,000 to help support the development of their business. In addition, Crutchley will receive a further AU$100,000 for his Innovation Award win. Both winners will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques, including Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X and Takashimaya.
“The International Woolmark Prize is an award for the future leaders of the industry, an industry that is rapidly changing to meet the demands of a changing consumer, climate and resource availability,” explained The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough. “The level of talent we saw today from all 12 designers was exceptional. Each and every one pushed the limits of the fibre, of their design and of the manufacturers they worked with.”
The International Woolmark Prize is a unique talent development program which celebrates the world’s best emerging designers, providing them with ongoing mentorship from industry experts. This year’s entrants will join a prestigious alumni program, with 400 designers already benefitting from the award.
For the first time, the International Woolmark Prize has connected with leading industry taste-makers as ambassadors for the award and we thank Amanda Parkes, Aquaria, Colin Firth, Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler from Diet Prada, Casey Spooner, Christine Centenera, Laura Jackson, Susanna Lau from Style Bubble and Simon and Kirsten Lock for their support.
The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of Mr.Smith as the official hair partner, ELLIS FAAS as the official make-up partner directed by Michelle Dacillo and drinks by Vasse Felix for the final event. The Woolmark Company extends special thanks to the London Contemporary Choir for its performance at the final event.
The Woolmark Company has also partnered with online wholesale platform ORDRE for a third year to present online showrooms for the International Woolmark Prize winners’ and finalists’ capsule collections to an invitation-only retail network and will allow wholesale orders to be placed.
About The Woolmark Company:
The Woolmark Company is the global authority on wool. Through our extensive network of relationships spanning the international textile and fashion industries, we highlight Australian wool’s position as the ultimate natural fibre and premier ingredient in luxury apparel.
The Woolmark logo is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands, providing assurance of the highest quality, and representing pioneering excellence and innovation from farm through to finished product.
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.