Main Image: Courtesy IWP

IWP: The New Names to Watch

The Woolmark Company has revealed the nominees for the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize (IWP). Remaining an invaluable platform for young designers in the early stages of their career, the competition gives access to important networks and the necessary funding for them to grow their business globally.

This year’s menswear nominees from Europe and the UK are A-Cold-Wall, Alex Mullins, Daniel W. Fletcher, Edward Crutchley, Liam Hodges, and Nicholas Daley, Cmmn Swdn, Comeforbreakfast, and William Fan.

Representing Australasia for menswear is Angel Chen from China, Druhv Kapoor from India, Ka Wa Key from Hong Kong, Sulvam and Yohei Ohno from Japan, and The-Sirius and Youser from Korea. Menswear designers nominated from the USA include Childs New York, Deveaux New York, Linder, Orange Culture, and Willy Chavarria.

For womenswear, a number of London-based labels were nominated to represent Europe and the UK including Edward Crutchley, Steven Tai, Richard Malone, and Marta Jakubowski. Other nominees from this region include Italy-based Twins Florence, Norway-based Esp, Netherland-based Maison the Faux, Spain-based Leandro Cano, Denmark-based William Fan, and France-based labels Gauchere and Victoria Tomas.

From Australasia the womenswear nominees are Albus Lumen and Jacinta James from Australia, Angel Chen, Xiao Li and Chen Peng from China, Cynthia & Xiao and I-Am-Chen from Hong Kong, Druhv Kapoor and Miuniku from India, and The-Sirius and Youser from Korea. The womenswear designers representing the USA are Area, Brandon Maxwell, Cienne, Colovos, J.Kim, and Linder.

Judged by respected designers, editors and fashion buyers, the competition provides mentorship and guidance to each of the nominees throughout. “As the International Woolmark Prize continues to evolve, we have restructured our program to ensure emerging design talent receives the highest level of industry support and guidance,” explains Stuart McCullough, managing director of the Woolmark Company.

This judging panel includes Tim Blanks, Jefferson Hack and Christine Centenera, from Vogue Australia, Sara Maino, deputy editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and Head of Vogue Talents, and Colin McDowell, fashion journalist and commentator.

“Fashion prizes like Woolmark give emerging designers access to important networks through judging and mentorship processes. This feedback is invaluable even for those that don’t scoop the final prize,” says Niamh Tuft, programme manager at the British Council. “For designers from industries that may not have fashion incubators or other business development schemes it’s particularly important,” she says.

Jimmy Chan, the chief executive officer at Semeiotics, a platform nurturing creative talent, agrees that prizes like IWP are effective in helping designers grow their business. “It is definitely a plus for young brands, for the sake of exposure to the otherwise harder to reach stockists and also the experts,” he explains.

“There is a question of diversity and representation in terms of presenting a truly global picture of fashion,” adds Tuft, who runs the International Fashion Showcase for emerging designers. “This is something many of the major fashion prizes do seem to be trying to address but it is a question of building a network in underrepresented regions and understanding what criteria limits designers from certain places applying.”

This year the competition is grouped into just three sectors – Australasia, Europe and the UK, and the Americas. For the first time, the prize expanded its reach instead through an online nomination procedure, allowing it to become truly global. Now in its seventh year, the prize has supported designers who have found international success, including Gabriela Hearst, Teatum Jones, and Cottweiler.