by John Russel Jones

The winner of the 2022 International Woolmark Prize is Saul Nash, announced today at a special event in London, England. MMUSOMAXWELL was awarded the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation. The winners each receive AU$200,000 and AU$100,000 respectively as well ongoing support from the industry and Woolmark Prize retail partners. 

An expert jury including Ben Gorham, Carine Roitfeld, Edward Enninful OBE, Ibrahim Kamara, Marc Newson CBE, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, Naomi Campbell, Pieter Mulier, Riccardo Tisci, Shaway Yeh, Sinéad Burke and Tim Blanks selected the winners. The announcement was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and was also attended by Jourdan Dunn, Pixie Geldof, Susie Lau, and Erin O’Connor. 

“The International Woolmark Prize is the jewel in our crown,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director John Roberts. “It connects our Australian woolgrowers with the global fashion and textiles industry and in turn highlights the beauty, versatility, and modernity of Australian wool. We’re proud of the relationships fostered between our seven finalists, prestigious judging panel and supply chain network who have mentored these designers on their Woolmark Prize journey and hope these connections continue in the future.” 

London-based designer Saul Nash was praised for his modern use of Merino wool, bridging a gap between active solutions and more formal requirements. 

“Everyone did a great job and could have been a winner,” said Riccardo Tisci. “But what Saul did, coming from a ballet background to replace lycra with wool was really incredible.” 

With a true sense of discovery, this collection exposed Nash to the benefits of Merino wool in activewear, allowing him to develop materials that have enhanced the quality of his designs without compromising their technical DNA. With a focus on minimizing waste, and emphasizing movement and performance, Saul Nash’s modern interpretation of knitwear challenges preconceived ideas surrounding sportswear. 

“Words cannot describe what this means to me,” said Saul Nash after the announcement. “In such a short space of time, I am so grateful for what I have gained in the past eight months. This really is the cherry on top of everything Woolmark has done for me.” 

South Africa’s MMUSOMAXWELL’s winning collection was committed to reducing its environmental impact and upskilling traditional craftsmanship. Sourcing local raw materials and end-to-end production, MMUSOMAXWELL took an artisanal approach to its collection. Each item promotes slow and small batch production through the use of local artisans to counteract the over-consumption pandemic and allows for greater product traceability. The jury praised the design duo for their passion, courage, and commitment to introducing a new skillset to South African manufacturers. 

“Winning means everything to us,” said MMUSOMAXWELL designers Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane. “It allows us to continue working with artisans and to further explore Merino wool, which is fantastic for us. It’s mind-blowing.” 

Supply Chain Award 

Celebrating an outstanding contribution by a trade partner, this year’s Supply Chain Award was presented to the Netherlands-based Knitwear Lab. A research and knowledge hub for innovative, design-driven, and sustainable knitwear solutions, Knitwear Lab was recognized for its contribution to the International Woolmark Prize and for giving access to technology and R&D in flat-bed knitting to emerging brands in a way that is specific to their needs. Standout developments include innovative 100% Merino wool fabrics developed with winner Saul Nash – such as a compression wool hybrid jersey/Airtex mesh knit or a double-faced jersey with integrated mesh holes – offering high stretch, strength, and breathability. These breakthrough fabrics allowed Saul Nash to bring his vision to life. Knitwear Lab also further developed its relationship with finalist Ahluwalia, exploring her concept of Nollywood through innovative knitwear true to the Ahluwalia brand. 

The Woolmark Company’s Innovation Academy has provided finalists with a robust education and mentoring program, offering unparalleled access to International Woolmark Prize partners, manufacturers, and mentors across the supply chain who have supported the designers’ product development, research, business, and sustainability strategies. The program fosters more meaningful and sustainable product outcomes for both the designer and the manufacturer. In addition, each finalist has completed a Common Objective Sustainability Policies and Roadmap as part of a commitment to better industry practices. 

Finalists will now continue their International Woolmark Prize journey, joining a prestigious alumni of more than 400, and will be presented with commercial opportunities via our Retail Partner Network. 

The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of Innovation Academy partners Tilting the Lens, Common Objective, Queen of Raw, Aquapak and Close to Clothes, itsinternational supply chain partners including BYBORRE, D-House, Knitwear Lab and studioe®, as well as official hotel partner The London EDITION, hair partner Mr.Smith and Sunday Riley as the make-up partner directed by Michelle Dacillo.