The time has come again – the International Woolmark Prize is back and is as ready as ever to recognise, and honour, some of fashion’s most outstanding talents. Through their use of Australian Merino wool, the finalists have the chance to compete creatively to be awarded, arguably, one of the world’s most prestigious awards for fashion stars on the rise.
Once the final cut is made, the contenders will have eight months to curate and finalise their International Woolmark Prize collections. With help from the Innovation Academy, similarly oriented brands will collaborate to support these emerging talents.
This year’s theme is ‘Dialogue’ – a sentiment encouraged by the Woolmark organisation. Aiming to connect and unite some of fashion’s breakthrough talents with major players in the industry – the prize offers the chance for those involved to cooperatively engage with more sustainable production practices.
With the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren and Yves Saint Laurent, already crowned amongst the organisation’s impressive alumni – it is finally time to meet this year’s finalists.
A. ROEGE HOVE
Get your knitting needles at the ready for a knitwear revolution – pioneered by A. ROEGE HOVE. Conceptualising knitted garments since the brand’s day one, it questions everything we thought we knew about the traditional craft. With each piece curated and created by founder and brand architect Amalie Roge Hove, this knitwear certainly knows no bounds. Founded in 2019, Hove has consistently articulated a desire to destroy any archaic knitwear knowledge – with pieces weaved with semi-transparent materials to blur the lines between the garment and its wearer’s skin. The brand manipulates lightweight materials to make pieces which stretch to fit.
LAGOS SPACE PROGRAMME
Appropriately named, as they are reaching for the stars as they become one, Lagos Space Programme unites opulent design and African influence. Founded in 2014 by Adeju Thompson, the brand concentrates on craftsmanship and a commitment to slow fashion. As a non-binary individual, Thompson launched their first collection in 2018 which featured trans-seasonal, genderless garments. The brand has education in their focus – challenging outdated stereotypes about African design and masculinity. Showcasing a collection at Milan Fashion Week January 2021, the brand is only just beginning its journey of redefining design.
Italian born designer Marco Rambaldi is a beacon of hope in an era of mass production. Established in 2017, the eponymous brand is a pinnacle of upcycling, inclusion and the renouncing of gender norms. Rejecting quantity over quality, the brand finds greatness in materials generated in Italian artisan workshops, which are then shared with an eagerly awaiting audience. Through Rambaldi’s lens, we see a fusion of seventies Italian bourgeoisie and a fresh, radical and gender bending aesthetic come to life – as made in Italy meets a whole new meaning.
A brand based in Paris, but who’s designs are to be universally appreciated – this is Bluemarble. Founded in 2019 by Anthony Alvarez, the menswear label aims to nurture individuality, and draw similarities between cultures through their youth. Drawing on the designer’s experiences while travelling, Alvarez neatly translates the importance of singularity and an appreciation for ulterior cultures within his garments. The brand’s name is a take on seeing the world as a whole – a collection of minds to be connected through art. With the brand’s clothes having a certain sense of accessibility, Alvarez speaks to the uniqueness in us all.
In the fall of 2017, MAXXIJ fell from the heavens and into our arms – bolstered by the desire to help us realise that the act of wearing fashion could itself be an act of art. With a soft spot for exploratory design and accompanied by boundary defying style – MAXXIJ is where it is at. The brand made its breakthrough at London Fashion Weeks SS21 season, with a lot to say about the future of fashion. Engaging with the anatomy and tailoring of menswear, MAXXIJ’s emboldens abstract design with innovative silhouettes and multi-fabric assembly. Unconventional couture – meet your maker.
Meet the Ontario-born, London-based designer whose finger is on the pulse of fashion’s future. Growing up with a thirst to create, a young Russo pursued materialising the concepts found only in her imagination. A desire soon fulfilled – the designer began filtering inspiration from her surroundings, found primarily in sports. Having now collaborated with the likes of Adidas, Russo is only at the beginning of what will surely be a stellar career.
Don’t be rude – but stay RHUDE. Launched in 2015, this LA born brand is a balancing act between high fashion tailoring and streetwear aesthetics. Both of which joined in an harmonious union while under RHUDE’s creative control. The brand was born with a vision concocted by founder Rhuigi Villasenor – reflective of both modern socioeconomics and the designer’s own experiences once he moved to the US. With his designs having been described as a visual commentary on life in LA and the city’s style – RHUDE couples American symbolism with nostalgia and timeless design references.
Over the last four years, Irish-born designer Robyn Lynch has repurposed both her heritage and deadstock garments to inspire both her, and her brand. Calling upon traditional Irish wear, Lynch grabs hold of her roots when designing – with her clothes caputring a youthful silhouette and reinterpreting classic Irish cable knits. Making a move towards the past, present and future – Lynch’s SS/21 collection introduced her womenswear range for the first time and oversaw her signature expand to encompass a series of casual wear concepts.
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