MERINO wool will hit the global stage when the International Woolmark Prize menswear final takes place in Florence, Italy, in January.
Munsoo Kwon (Asia), Siki Im (USA), Agi & Sam (British Isles), Jonathan Christopher (Europe), Suketdir (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Australia’s P.Johnson will compete for the esteemed award to be announced on January 13, 2016.
The six menswear finalists will present Merino wool collections during Pitti Uomo, the world’s most important trade show for men's clothing and collections.
First held in 1953 as an initiative of the International Wool Secretariat, the award was won by Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in 1954.
The prize was re-established in 2012 to promote emerging designers working with Merino wool, and the menswear category was introduced in 2014.
The menswear final of the 2016 International Woolmark Prize will be judged on January 13 and marked by a special runway presentation of the six finalist capsule collections in Merino wool.
The finalists will present their work to an esteemed judging panel of international industry figures including: Franca Sozzani, Editor, L’Uomo Vogue Haider Ackermann, Designer Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Business of Fashion Suzy Menkes, International Editor, Vogue Nick Sullivan, Fashion Director, Esquire Masafumi Suzuki, Editor-in-Chief, GQ Japan Linda Loppa, Director of Strategy and Vision, Polimoda Raffaello Napolene, Chief Executive, Pitti Uomo Stuart McCullough, Managing Director, The Woolmark Company
In addition, representatives from the International Woolmark Prize’s retail partners will also serve on the judging panel, including MatchesFashion.com Style Director, Simon Chilvers, and David Jones's General Manager of Menswear, Deborah Foreman.
“Although menswear has always been a secure and traditional market for wool, the entrants in the International Woolmark Prize continue to surprise and inspire with their creative approach to wool in menswear, highlighting the fibre’s adaptability and suitability for modern interpretation,” said Stuart McCullough, Managing Director of The Woolmark Company.
The winner of the International Woolmark Prize will receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business and ongoing industry mentor support, as well as the presentation and sale of their capsule collection in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques.
MEET THE FINALISTS
British Isles: Agi and Sam
With a strong emphasis on bespoke textiles and humour, Agi & Sam believe that fashion should never be taken too seriously. Agi Mdumulla studied fashion design at Manchester School of Art while Sam Cotton studied Illustration at the University of Lincoln.
They first met in 2008 whilst interning for Alexander McQueen before going on to work for other brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and J.W. Anderson.
After becoming frustrated with the then-dismal economic climate and the lack of jobs, they decided to launch their debut collection in September 2010 at London Fashion Week.
Europe: Jonathan Christopher
Jonathan Christopher (Hofwegen) Celestial Risher, from The Netherlands, graduated from the Willem de Kooning academy in 2009 then pursued his master’s degree at the prestigious Dutch fashion school ArteZ Institute for the Arts.
In 2011, he was selected by Marc Jacobs to be one of the five finalists for the young talent award Designer for Tomorrow and two years later was anointed the Henri Winkelman Young Creative Entrepreneur in 2013.
Asia: Munsoo Kwon
Launched in 2011, South Korea's Munsoo Kwon steers clear of the saturated traditional menswear market in favour of designs based on modern silhouettes that are practical, yet maintain a distinctive appeal.
Kwon’s aesthetic is faithful to proportions and carefully designed for an impeccable fit while incorporating unique detailing.
Instead of overt branding, Munsoo Kwon employs its signature split-open details on the back and special pockets on shirts to create a coherent brand representation.
Born and raised on a Merino sheep station north of Adelaide, South Australia, Patrick Johnson trained in London with a view to a better dressed, yet not over-dressed, man.
Partnering with his best friend Tom Riley, the duo established P.Johnson, which combines their passion for Italy and its inherent respect for dressing, with a passion for the "sweet life".
Ed Bertouch joined the company in 2015 as managing director of the company's US businesses, beginning with the opening of the first American P. Johnson showroom in the heart of Soho, New York.
P.Johnson is sartorial yet sporty, louche and comfortable, practical but fresh, everything Australian, everything relevant and everything elegant. It’s sartorial with a distinctly coastal influence. It’s about moving forward, looking better, feeling good and not taking it too seriously.
India, Pakistan & Middle East: Suketdhir
India's Suket Dhir founded his eponymous label in 2009 and
trained at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi.
Dhir’s aesthetic is best described as Indo-centric western menswear, achieved through a synergy of regional artisanal techniques with western silhouettes and cuts in exquisite indigenous fabrics. Adherence to the "less is more" philosophy lends garments a classic air, which is further highlighted through subtle detailing and a hint of quirk.
USA: Siki Im
Exploring the boundaries of institutional and conventional fashion and craftsmanship, German-born Siki Im strives to re-evaluate the existing landscape of high-end menswear.
The brand is indeed an exercise of exploration of traditional tailoring.
Born in Cologne, Siki Im moved to the UK to study architecture. After working as an architect in various cities around the world, he began his fashion career in New York where he was a senior designer for both Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang before creating his first solo collection in 2009.
Hand-tailored, artisanal suits are the hallmark of the brand that employs the highest levels of craftsmanship and quality fabrics to create the modern and refined aesthetic that is the label’s signature.
For more information visit www.woolmarkprize.com