by Stephen Garner
2017 Woolmark Prize USA Winners / Photo courtesy of BFA

The International Woolmark Prize returns to Florence, with the 2017/18 global final to be held January 9, 2018, on the first day of Pitti Uomo.

Following the success of the 2016/17 global final in Paris, the forthcoming final will once again combine menswear and womenswear into one star-studded event at Stazione Leopolda, with the two global winners announced in front of key industry heavyweights.

Chosen among the 65 most talented emerging designers worldwide, the six menswear finalists and the six womenswear finalists will be judged by a highly esteemed panel made up of prestigious names of the fashion industry. The two winners will each receive AU$200,000 to invest in the development of their business and will see their winning collections commercialized through the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network which is made up of some of the world’s top stores.

The 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize finalists for menswear are: DYNE from the USA, Six Lee from Asia, BLAIRARCHIBALD from Australia and New Zealand, Matthew Miller from the British Isles, L’Homme Rouge from Europe, and Antar-Agni from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. The finalist for womenswear are: Zaid Affas from the USA, KYE from Asia, Harman Grubiša from Australia and New Zealand, Le Kilt from the British Isles, David Laport from Europe, and Bodice from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

“A global search plus support for up-and-coming talents and experimental fashion are the essential elements of the DNA of the Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery,” said Andrea Cavicchi, president of the Fondazione. “Thanks to these natural affinities, over the years we have built a solid collaboration with The Woolmark Company and we are very pleased to host a new edition of the International Woolmark Prize which, in January, will also present the womenswear category in Florence. This is further confirmation of the role played by Pitti Uomo as a launch pad for the talents of the future, not just in men’s fashion but on the global fashion scene.”

“The Woolmark Company has a long-standing relationship with Pitti Uomo organizers Pitti Immagine, with both our brand values aligned to investing in the future of new talent,” added Stuart McCullough, managing director of The Woolmark Company. “The International Woolmark Prize presents the 12 global finalists with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we are delighted to once again stage this prestigious event in Florence.”

A new component of this year’s prize will be the newly introduced Innovation Award, with The Woolmark Company reinforcing its commitment to supporting emerging design talent and shining a spotlight on the supply chain partners assisting in developing innovative wool fabric and yarn. The Innovation Award, powered by Fashion Tech Lab, will be awarded to the finalist who demonstrates the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. The inaugural winner of the Innovation Award will be granted AU$100,000 as well as being presented with commercial opportunities.