The 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize finals in Florence.

The application process for the 2018-19 International Woolmark Prize is under way, with a new online nomination procedure to select the next group of global design talent.

This year, applications for the award are open to any brand worldwide that is able to meet the application criteria. The Woolmark Co. encourages designers to apply who are in the early stages of their career and show promise and dedication in growing their business and establishing themselves globally. All entries are reviewed by a panel of industry experts.

This year there will be three regional competitions: Australasia; Europe and the U.K., and the Americas, leading up to the international final for men’s wear and women’s wear. Last year, there were competitions in six regions: the U.S.; British Isles; Australia and New Zealand; India, Pakistan and Middle East; Europe, and Asia.

Woolmark looks to centralize resourcing and create more valuable, inclusive experiences at each event. Regional itineraries will now include innovation workshops, seminars and networking with industry experts. Funding has not decreased, and Woolmark will still continue to award 12 finalists, two global winners and one innovation award.

Applications, which are available at, close March 20.

The International Woolmark Prize recognizes outstanding fashion talents from across the globe who showcase the beauty, versatility and innovative nature of merino wool. Semifinals will take place in July, with events held in key global locations. The international final for men’s wear and women’s wear will take place in early 2019.

The total prize fund for the 2018-2019 men’s wear and women’s wear awards is 270,000 Australian dollars, in addition to the Innovation Award, which was launched last year and provides an additional prize fund of 100,000 Australian dollars.

Winners and finalists will also have the opportunity to see their merino wool capsule collections sold in several of the world’s top boutiques and department stores through the International Woolmark Prize’s retail partner network.

“The International Woolmark Prize nominating bodies remain welcome to nominate the best emerging design talent within their region,” said Stuart McCullough, managing director of the Woolmark Co. “Yet by opening up the nomination process, we continue to expand the reach of the International Woolmark Prize and uncover the next big names of the fashion industry.”

McCullough noted that the open application “will allow us to connect with designers from those emerging markets where we currently don’t have a presence, including Africa, South America and Eastern Europe.
“We will continue to work with our nominating bodies and a newly appointed advisory panel to identify talent from every corner of the world,” he added.

Among the criteria is that the designer must have been producing commercial products for a minimum of three years and a maximum of eight years. The designer also needs to demonstrate consistent experience in working with apparel supply chains and show annual growth in sales, and must not already stock products with more than five retailers within the International Woolmark Prize Global Retail Network. The designer also must be a permanent resident of the country he or she selects.

At the IWP regionals, designers will no longer have to produce the samples for their presented collections.  Instead they will present six sketches and fabric at the regional competition.
The effort is to mitigate the costs designers incur for the regionals. That said, when the 12 regional winners are selected to compete in the finals, they will move on to design their six-piece capsule comprised of minimum 60 percent Merino wool, with the support of the AU $70,000 prize fund.
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