LONDON — Saul Nash was named the winner of the 2022 International Woolmark Prize at a ceremony hosted at London’s 180 Strand on Tuesday.
The British Guyanan designer will receive 200,000 Australian dollars, or $144,000, in prize money, a series of mentorship to scale his business, and have the chance to be stocked at leading stores, via the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.
Nash, who is also a professional choreographer, was chosen from seven finalists, who were tasked with designing a merino wool collection for a judging panel, which included Burberry’s chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, Dazed’s editor in chief Ibrahim Kamara, industrial designer Marc Newson and Shaway Yeh, founder of Yehyehyeh and group style editorial director at Modern Media Group.
His wool capsule, in collaboration with Knitwear Lab from the Netherlands, which scored this year’s Woolmark Supply Chain Award, on high-tech compression pieces made from merino wool with high tenacity, was shown as a part of the designer’s fall 2022 collection during London Fashion Week.
Speaking to WWD after the ceremony, Nash said the fund would really benefit a small brand like his to expand on innovation and material research.
“One of the main concerns when you start a small brand, it’s always about survival, even though you really believe in you I do. The prize gives me the ability to carry on and really push what I’m doing. It’s really important for me to move forward from this moment which feels like it’s not really moving.
“As a dancer, I used to do a lot of hip hop battles. And the judges were just judging like ‘yes, you win, or you don’t win.’ So you get used to the rejection, that’s just how it is. To have people acknowledge what I do. It’s, it’s, it’s a real honor because it reminds you of what you are doing because when you’re really into it, you lose track,” he added, before calling his mother and sharing the good news in tears.
The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation went to Mmusomaxwell. The duo Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane will receive 100,000 Australian dollars, or $72,000.
The duo said the brand represents a new wave of designers coming from Africa that embrace technology as much as tradition.
“We mix the two. For example, the loom that was used to make these woven pieces were powered by hydraulic. That way you reduce the strain on the weaver’s arm, but it’s still handwoven. “
“Our aesthetic is influenced by our African heritage, but we put a contemporary twist on it. So it’s not gonna be a slapstick on your face that I am African. We are the new generation. We are also inspired by what’s happening today with a more global point of view,” the Johannesburg-based duo added.
Presenting the award to them at the ceremony, Carine Roitfeld said: “When you meet certain people, you immediately have love at first sight. I love what Mmusomaxwell is doing and how they explain their work. They have a dream and what they are doing is not just for South Africa, but for a modern, Western woman. I think Karl would have loved to have spoken with them today and am sure he would be very happy to give this award to them.”
This year’s International Woolmark Prize finalists are part of an alumni network that includes Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Emily Bode Aujla, Richard Malone, Angel Chen, Gabriela Hearst, Rahul Mishra and Matty Bovan.
The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of the approximately 60,000 woolgrowers that help to fund the company.