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International Woolmark Prize

The International Woolmark Prize is an annual fashion design award that identifies the world's foremost emerging designers, whilst highlighting the diverse interpretations of Merino wool within their collections.

The initiative is designed to generate long-term incremental demand for Australian Merino wool by increasing the knowledge of and lifetime loyalty to the fibre amongst the competition’s designers and alumni around the globe.

The involvement of the world’s leading fashion designers with Australian Merino wool is extremely important because of their enormous influence in setting global trends. What we see on the world’s catwalks this year quickly makes it into the mainstream fashion sector. The broader fashion industry looks to designers for the latest trends; their work with fabrics like Australian Merino wool has a trickle-down effect that should not be underestimated.

The competition is the pinnacle of AWI's activities to promote the use of Australian Merino wool in fashion. It has gained extraordinary momentum and evolved into a highly coveted, internationally recognised award. The phenomenal interest in these awards from fashion communities and media globally is helping put wool back on the agendas of a broader range of fashion designers, manufacturers, brands and retailers, and consequently into retail stores for consumers to purchase.

First held in 1953 as an initiative of the International Wool Secretariat (IWS), the award the following year helped launch the careers of iconic fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. The award was relaunched in 2012 by AWI’s marketing arm, The Woolmark Company.

  • WOOL EDUCATION: 384 designers from 65 countries have received an extensive wool education from product development to sourcing, including: The Wool Lab, Wool Appreciation Course, Trade Partner Program and Mentoring.
  • INNOVATIONS: Every year, up to 70 designers develop and present the most innovative designs, made from at least 80% Australian Merino wool.
  • INTERNATIONAL FINALS: The designs from regional winners are judged by some of the most famous and respected authorities on fashion, and presented in front of the world’s media.
  • RETAIL: The winning collections are stocked in 10 program retail partners, some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. The program’s 384 alumni are imbued with a love of wool which often translates into wool-rich collections.

Further Information

For more information, including images and videos from the competitions, visit the International Woolmark Prize website. For a summary, view the article in the September 2017 edition of Beyond the Bale.