Designer Saul Nash’s journey with wool
Since winning the 2022 International Woolmark Prize, UK fashion designer Saul Nash has continued to embrace Merino wool, exemplified by his latest wool-rich collection launched in October this year.
The International Woolmark Prize (IWP) generates long-term demand for Australian Merino wool by increasing the lifetime loyalty to the fibre amongst the award’s designers and alumni across the world.
Since the relaunch of the IWP in 2012 by AWI’s marketing arm The Woolmark Company, more than 400 fashion designers have been involved in the illustrious talent development program. The program’s alumni are building strong businesses and taking leading roles within the industry.
One of the most interesting alumni is London-based designer Saul Nash who won the 2022 IWP where he was praised for his modern use of Merino wool in activewear and technical garments, using the natural fibre in place of traditional synthetics.
“Using wool, it’s a lot more positive than using a hundred per cent synthetic fibre. For me it was a step towards a better use of materials within my design process,” says Saul, who is drawn to Merino wool’s benefits such as its elasticity and ability to wick moisture.
“In the world of activewear, there’s a lot of plastic in garments and I think what wool offered was an amazing natural fibre.”
Since being crowned the 2022 IWP winner, Saul Nash has continued to invest in product development and the commercialisation of wool, ensuring the fibre stays a prominent part of his brand story and product mix.
“When you look at wool as a renewable material and then also the fact that it's biodegradable … I think it's embedded in parts of my work that I can’t ever see leaving again.”
- Saul Nash
Saul Nash’s global IWP retail launch
Saul Nash on stage winning the 2022 International Woomark Prize.
Since winning the IWP award in April 2022, Saul has had a busy 18-months during which he has helped keep Australian Merino wool in the fashion world’s spotlight, which shows the enduring value of the IWP.
After the 2022 IWP event, all the finalists had the opportunity for their IWP collections to be stocked in some of the world’s leading stores, via the IWP Retailer Network.
For Saul Nash, a retail highlight was a special six-week long, pop-up space at leading luxury store Selfridges in London which launched in September 2022. The pop-up featured messaging about wool’s benefits, alongside an explanation of Saul’s recent IWP win. Saul also partnered with Selfridges to host a launch event that was presented as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule. Attendees of the event included media, VIPs and influencers.
Saul Nash's winning IWP collection featured in a special pop-up area of Selfridges in London.
Saul’s visit to Australia
Saul Nash at the IWP collection launch in Sydney.
Two months later, in November 2022, Saul travelled to Sydney for an event to launch his collection in Australia. The event, held at the COMA gallery in Darlinghurst, generated much positive media coverage about Merino wool.
Saul had a busy schedule while in Sydney. Earlier in the day, Saul had met with fashion and textile students from the University of Technology and Whitehouse Institute of Design to share his experiences as a rising star in the industry. Saul took students on his journey from studying fashion at the Royal College of Art in London through to the design process behind his IWP winning collection.
Saul tells of a visit to The Woolmark Company when he was younger to explore what the company does. “I was really intrigued because on that visit I discovered that wool could be used in so many other ways than your traditional knitted sweater or your traditional wool coat,” Saul said.
2022 International Woolmark Prize winner Saul Nash with Merino wool fibre during a visit to Chris and Margot Shannon’s ‘Talmo’ property at Bookham in NSW.
Two days later, Saul’s itinerary switched from fashion to the farm when he visited a wool-growing property to see for himself where Merino wool originates. He travelled to the 1,440-hectare Merino wool-growing property ‘Talmo’ at Bookham in the Southern Tablelands of NSW to meet enthusiastic and passionate Australian woolgrowers Chris and Margot Shannon.
“It was such an educational visit to their magnificent wool-growing property and so insightful to see the start of Merino wool’s journey into our clothes,” Saul said.
VIP judge of Wool4School UK
Back in the UK, Saul Nash was delighted to be reunited with The Woolmark Company in 2023 as the VIP judge of the 2022/23 Wool4School student design competition.
“As the International Woolmark Prize winner and someone who is truly passionate about Merino wool, it was wonderful to be a part of this year's Wool4School competition. As a designer I think it is important to inspire the next generation and it is great to be able to meet these designers at such a pivotal moment in their lives,” Saul said.
As part of the competition, Saul was featured in an exclusive video at his London studio talking about his inspiration, design process, journey as a designer, experience and passion for wool. As part of their prize, both the junior and senior winners of the Wool4School competition got to meet Saul in his studio.
Saul’s new wool-rich collection
Saul Nash’s technical knitwear continues to profile Merino wool in unexpected ways. Pictured in the centre of this shot, which is taken from his new campaign film, is a 100% Merino wool knit top with body-mapped panelling.
With a focus on expanding and diversifying his Merino wool category, Saul Nash launched his Autumn/Winter 2023 collection in October. It is the result of a continued partnership with The Woolmark Company and centres around three, Woolmark-certified wool-rich hero pieces.
The collection features a generously draped Merino wool sweater created by knitting a double-faced jacquard into a single jersey, a Merino wool-rich tracksuit with performance-inspired wool mesh panels around the arms, along with a high-performance Merino wool blend seamless compression top designed to stretch across various body types.
Saul Nash joined with The Woolmark Company’s development partners Studio Eva x Carola to create his first seamless knitted compressive performance-wear.
“This was a great development for us and through Woolmark we have been able to build a continued partnership. Through this partnership we were able to produce garments which not only fulfilled the style element within the collection but also create a fully functional performance garment that is built to last,” Saul said.
“This season we also worked with [IWP supply-chain partner] Knitwear Lab, through which we were able to continue to push our knitwear.”
Saul says the collection, titled Juxtaposition, utilises skiwear designs to push the functionality of his garments, championing technical design for city streets.
“When you grow up in London, you wear a lot of ski outerwear, but you never learn to ski. It’s a symbol of aspiration that’s juxtaposed with the realities of inner city living. For me the collection is like a dreamscape, a place between where I come from, and where I’m going,” Saul added.
More information: www.saulnash.co.uk
This article appeared in the December 2023 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.