History of the Internatonal Woolmark Prize

Explore the next chapter of the International Woolmark Prize

The Facts

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Such is the beauty of fine wool, a fibre which exudes innovation and is full of infinite possibilities, that helped launch the careers of both Yves Saint Laurent and Karle Lagerfeld back in 1954. Today, it is this very fibre which still has no limits and can catapult an emerging designer into an icon.


In 1936, Australian woolgrowers voted for a six pence levy to be imposed on each bale they produced, to promote their product around the world. This audacious, visionary decision resulted in the formation of a body first known as the International Wool Secretariat. One of the initiatives of the IWS was a fashion design award to highlight the versatility and modernity of wool.

It was at the 1954 awards that two young, unknown womenswear designers, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, stepped up onto a stage to accept their respective fashion design prizes. Lagerfeld, then 21, was the winner of the coat category. Saint Laurent, at a mere 18 years old, won the award for dress design, judged by a panel which included Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain. It was at that moment that fashion history was made.

The International Woolmark Prize is a modern interpretation of this original award, addressing the important elements required for a designer to succeed in today’s market, commerciality, adaptability, innovation and a global approach to fashion.

After a hugely successful relaunch in 2012, the International Woolmark Prize (IWP) continues to gain momentum globally as more partners, retailers and designers align themselves and their brands to help promote outstanding and emerging talent from around the world.

In February 2013, Christian Wijnants from Belgium was announced the winner of the 2012/13 International Woolmark Prize, during the final award event held at the ME Hotel during London Fashion Week. In February 2014, Rahul Mishra from India was announced the overall winner at an emotionally charged event held during Milan fashion week at the Triennial Museum in Milan.

We look forward to unfolding the next pages in the history of the International Woolmark Prize as five menswear designers and five womenswear designers go forward and compete for the overall prize and discover new and exciting ways to take wool into the future.

Let the judging begin.

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