by John Russel Jones

The Woolmark Company has announced the finalists for the 2023 International Woolmark Prize. They are:

A. Roege Hove, Denmark
Bluemarble, France
Lagos Space Programme, Nigeria
Marco Rambaldi, Italy
Maxxij, South Korea
Paolina Russo, UK
Rhude, USA
Robyn Lynch, Ireland

“This group of finalists represents the next generation of creative game-changers, who all want to design fashion for a better tomorrow,” explains The Woolmark Company managing director John Roberts. “As the fashion and textile industry continues to evolve amongst an ever-changing landscape, we hope that our support throughout the International Woolmark Prize will inspire and propel design and business strategies of our eight finalists. I would personally like to congratulate these finalists on behalf of the Australian woolgrowers and also thank the Advisory Council for helping decide our final eight.”

This year’s theme – Dialogue – represents both an important element in the creative process and acts as a letter to, and for, the next generation. The theme reflects The Woolmark Company’s mission to establish dialogue and connect leading design talent with industry players to collectively envision a more sustainable future.

Each 2023 finalist will receive an initial AU$60,000 for the development of a Merino wool collection and will be supported by the program’s education and mentoring initiative, the Innovation Academy, which includes mentoring from industry leaders, including Holli Rogers, Chief Brand Officer, Farfetch; Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Global Fashion Editor-at-Large, Vogue and Stylist; Sara Sozzani Maino, Scouting and Educational Initiatives Advisor Vogue Italia & International Brand Ambassador Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana; Sinéad Burke, Educator and Advocate; Shaway Yeh, Founder YehYehYeh and Group Style Editorial Director Modern Media Group; and Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large, Business of Fashion.

The Awards

The International Woolmark Prize is a manifestation of more than 60 years of supporting emerging talent in fashion by the Australian wool industry. The prize represents The Woolmark Company’s continued social commitment, a sharing of resources and enduring support of local artisans.
The eight finalists will each develop six Merino wool looks as part of their Autumn/Winter 2023 collection, or a standalone IWP2023 capsule collection that highlights the innate versatility, innovative nature and eco-credentials of Merino wool.

One finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize and receive AU$200,000 to invest in the development of their business. The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be awarded to another finalist, with the winner receiving AU$ 100,000. The Woolmark Supply Chain Award will also be presented, celebrating outstanding contributions from a trade partner driving wool supply chain innovation.

All finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked at some of the world’s leading stores, via the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.
This year’s International Woolmark Prize finalists join an impressive alumni network including Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Gabriela Hearst, Rahul Mishra, BODE, Matty Bovan and, most recently, Saul Nash.

The Innovation Academy

Finalists are provided with unparalleled mentorship from industry experts as part of the Innovation Academy, including support for product ideation, commercial development, supply chain connections and sustainability strategies to assist in the development of their collections and brands.

The Woolmark Company is pleased to announce this year’s Innovation Academy partners: Tilting the Lens, Common Objective, Queen of Raw, and Close to Clothes. The program boasts a global network of over 50 progressive international supply chain partners including BYBORRE, D-House, Knitwear Lab, Laxton’s, Studio Eva x Carola and studioe. The Innovation Academy supports finalists with early-stage investment, product research and development, mentoring, networking and commerce, providing unparalleled insights and support to grow a sustainable business.

ABOVE: Photo by Sam Carter.