by Stephen Garner

Six of the world’s most promising emerging design talents have been selected for the 2021 International Woolmark Prize – the world’s original and most prestigious fashion awards and talent development program.

The 2021 International Woolmark Prize finalists are Bethany Williams, from the UK; Casablanca, from France; Kenneth Ize, from Nigeria; Lecavalier, from Canada; Matty Bovan, from the UK; and Thebe Magugu, from South Africa.

An expert advisory council faced a tough decision, choosing the finalists from more than 380 applicants from 55 countries, ranging from Australia to Nigeria, Peru to Denmark and England to USA, proving that talent has no cultural nor geographical boundaries.

The six finalists showcased a commitment to upholding the prize’s pillars of product excellence, innovation, supply-chain transparency, sustainability, and inclusivity.

“It is my pleasure to support the International Woolmark Prize,” said Naomi Campbell, model, activist, and advisory council member. “Now more so than ever, in these incredibly challenging times for our industry, we must continue to support and nurture the emerging voices in fashion design. They are the future, and I look forward to seeing what creative and innovative work comes out of this year’s entries to push our industry’s ongoing mission in diversity and sustainability.”

In 2021, the six finalists will present a Merino wool collection highlighting transparency throughout their supply chain with NFC technology from partner Blue Bite and a Common Objective sustainability roadmap. The 2021 theme “less is more” will celebrate slow and responsibly produced fashion and craftsmanship, the cornerstones of emerging designer businesses. Each Merino wool garment will tell a story and shine light on the supply chain.

One finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize by a prestigious panel of industry experts and receive AU$200,000 to invest in the development of their business. The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be presented once again and can be awarded to the International Woolmark Prize winner or a finalist, with the winner receiving AU$100,000. This year will also see the introduction of the Woolmark Supply Chain Award, celebrating outstanding contribution from a trade partner to drive awareness for wool supply chain innovation.

All finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s leading stores, via the International Woolmark Prize retailer network.