Edward Crutchley and Colovos were announced as the winners of the menswear and womenswear 2019 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a star-studded event during London Fashion Week on Saturday. Crutchley
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.
Crutchley, who won both the Menswear and Innovation Award hails from the UK and 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.
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.
“All of these references come together in a collection made from 100 percent Merino wool,” says Crutchley. “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.”
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 color -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 fiber to be spun into fully recyclable yarns.”
Both Edward Crutchley and Colovos will each receive AU$200,000 (approx. $140,000 USD) to help support the development of their business. In addition, Crutchley will receive a further AU$100,000 (approx. $70,000 USD) 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.
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.
“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 Stuart McCullough, managing director of The Woolmark Company. “The level of talent we saw today from all 12 designers was exceptional. Each and every one pushed the limits of the fiber, of their design and of the manufacturers they worked with.”