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Sydney - Six of the world’s most promising emerging design talents have been selected for the 2021 International Woolmark Prize, one of the world’s original and most prestigious fashion awards and talent development programs.

The 2021 International Woolmark Prize finalists were selected by an expert Advisory Council from more than 380 applicants from 55 countries, ranging from Australia to Nigeria, Peru to Denmark and England to USA.

The six finalists are:

  • Bethany Williams, UK
  • Casablanca, France
  • Kenneth Ize, Nigeria
  • Lecavalier, Canada
  • Matty Bovan, UK
  • Thebe Magugu, South Africa

 Announcing the final line-up, the panel noted that each of the six finalists showcased a commitment to upholding the prize’s pillars of product excellence, innovation, supply-chain transparency, sustainability and inclusivity.

“It is my pleasure to support the International Woolmark Prize," said panel member, as well as model, activist and businesswoman, Naomi Campbell. "Now more so than ever, in these incredibly challenging times for our industry, we must continue to support and nurture the emerging voices in fashion design. They are the future, and I look forward to seeing what creative and innovative work comes out of this year’s entries to push our industry's ongoing mission in diversity and sustainability.” 

Fellow panelist Sinéad Burke, educator and advocate, added: "The International Woolmark Prize has never been more needed - a conduit to educate and provoke new ideas and ways of working invoking sustainability, accessibility and equity. With mentoring and funding, it shapes the trajectory for a new generation of designers in a meaningful and transformative way. IWP connects people and planet, understanding the connectivity and agency between the two."

As part of the process, each of the six finalists will present a Merino wool collection in 2021 highlighting transparency throughout their supply chain with NFC technology from partner Blue Bite and a Common Objective sustainability roadmap. The 2021 theme “less is more” will celebrate slow and responsibly produced fashion and craftsmanship, the cornerstones of emerging designer businesses. Each Merino wool garment will tell a story and shine light on the supply chain.

One finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize by a prestigious panel of industry experts and receive AU$200,000 to invest in the development of their business.

The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be presented once again and can be awarded to the International Woolmark Prize winner or a finalist, with the winner receiving AU$100,000. This year will also see the introduction of the Woolmark Supply Chain Award, celebrating outstanding contribution from a trade partner to drive awareness for wool supply chain innovation.

All finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s leading stores, via the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.

Innovation Academy

The Woolmark Company has also announced this year's Innovation Academy partners - Common Objective, Queen of Raw, BYBORRE, Blue Bite, TIPA, Hologarment and the program’s 43 international supply chain partners.

The Innovation Academy program supports finalists with early stage investment, product research and development, mentoring, networking and commerce support.

The 2021 Innovation Academy will expand to support emerging designers, businesses and students globally through Industry Masterclasses, a series of live talks with industry experts from The Woolmark Company’s vast network of partners to provide unparalleled insights and support to grow a sustainable business.

The complete 2021 International Woolmark Prize Advisory Council was:

  • Naomi Campbell, Model, Activist, Businesswoman
  • Carlos Nazario, Stylist & Fashion Director, i-D
  • Chizuru Muko, Editor-in-Chief, WWD Japan
  • Christiane Arp, Editor-in-Chief, Vogue Germany
  • Floriane de Saint Pierre, founder of Floriane de Saint Pierre & Associes and EYES on TALENTS
  • Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Stylist & Fashion Director, Garage Magazine
  • Holli Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Browns & Chief Brand Officer, Farfetch
  • Laura Brown, Editor-in-Chief, InStyle
  • Livia Firth, Founder, Eco Age
  • Manish Arora, Designer
  • Shaway Yeh, Founder YehYehYeh and Group Style Editorial Director Modern Media Group
  • Sara Sozzani Maino, Head of Vogue Talents, Deputy Director Vogue Italia & Int Brand, Ambassador Camera Nazionale della Moda
  • Sarah Mower, Fashion Critic
  • Sinéad Burke, Educator and Advocate
  • Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large, Business of Fashion
  • Alison Veness, Editor, 10 Magazine and 10 Men in Australia and Vogue Visual Director, Vogue Australia

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