London loves an excuse to celebrate emerging designers. It’s the very hotbed of innovation and experimentation. So the fashion industry came out in full force today in support of the British Isles regional finals of the International Woolmark Prize, held at central London’s impressive One Horse Guards.
Deciding on two winners (one for menswear, the other for women’s) couldn’t have been an easy task for a judging panel that included designer Roland Mouret, Harvey Nichols’ Anita Barr, GQ Editor-in-Chief Dylan Jones, Jason Basmajian of Gieves & Hawkes and Matchesfashion.com’s Simon Chilvers.
Some of London’s most creative minds had turned their talents to developing a capsule collection using Australian Merino wool, and the standard was unanimously high. But there had to be two winners, and after careful deliberation the judges announced Teatum Jones as womenswear winner and Agi & Sam the recipient of the award for menswear.
“Agi & Sam are brilliant because they have such an idiosyncratic point of view; they know exactly what they are doing,” commented Jones. Basmajian added: “They’ve demonstrated an inspirational combination of creativity, innovation and commercial sensibility.”
Mouret explained what made Teatum Jones stand out: “What we loved about Teatum Jones winning this prize was their use and development of Merino wool, from their concept to the final garment. It was extraordinary and we thought it was really representative of what Britain’s young designers stand for.”
Drawing on their bold-but-polished aesthetic, Catherin Teatum and Rob Jones showed a dress and jacket combo that displayed their tireless research into fabrication and finish. “What really excites us for the future is the potential of Merino wool, looking at it in a purist and scientific way. Winning the regional award has made us even more motivated to create the most innovative collection we can for the international finals.”
Meanwhile, Sam Cotton and Agi Mdumulla of Agi & Sam worked with cobalt blue needle-felted wool to create their modern menswear look that referenced 18th century military uniform and the coats of the Scots Guard. “Wool is a strong part of our brand DNA; it’s amazing to get this recognition. We already use wool a lot in our collections because we’ve come to realise that no other fibre can match it in terms of versatility and quality.”
After collecting their AU$50,000 prize, both design duos will go on to represent the British Isles internationally in 2016 and be judged against finalists from five other regions. Agi & Sam heads to the menswear finals in Florence during Pitti Uomo and Teatum Jones to New York come February. A further AU$100,000 and the chance to be stocked by some of the world’s best boutiques and e-tailers is up for grabs.
Stayed tuned for more updates. Next stop on the International Woolmark Prize tour is the Europe awards, held in Antwerp on July 13.
Your crib notes to the International Woolmark Prize line-up for 2015/16