Twelve menswear and 17 womenswear expert panelists—including Document contributor Shayne Oliver, Dame Natalie Massenet DBE, Stefano Tonchi, and Lanvin’s Bouchra Jarrar—awarded this year’s highly-coveted International Woolmark Prize in menswear and womenswear to Cottweiler (British Isles) and Gabriela Hearst (USA), respectively, this week during Paris Couture. Including a funding opportunity to market their capsule collections through the Prize’s retail partner network, the competition provides designers access to premier wool suppliers via its trade partner program. Commemorating the superior quality of Australian Merino wool crafted by top emerging world designers, The Woolmark Company first launched the International Woolmark Prize in 1953. Past winners of the prize include formative designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
“Cottweiler doesn’t want to show off. [They] are very relaxed and confident in themselves and what they show,” said Oliver after the announcement. “They know where to go with this funding, and it will give them the push to get to the level they deserve to be at.” For Hearst, a New York-based designer who grew up on a sheep farm, her technical know-how and appreciation for wool heritage sealed her success among industry leaders. Coalescing over six global regions—Asia; Australia and New Zealand; British Isles; Europe; India, Pakistan, and the Middle East; and the United States—the competition seeks out promising talent fostering its core ambition of design excellence in wool artisanship. A natural fiber grown year-round, mastery and use of Merino wool is one example of sustainability the fashion industry beholds today.