LONDON — Woolmark has unveiled the 10 finalists for the 2020 International Woolmark Prize, which is set to be awarded in February. They are A-Cold-Wall, Blindness, Bode, Botter, Feng Chen Wang, GmbH, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Matthew Adams Dolan, Namachenko and Richard Malone.
This year, the focus and theme of the prize is traceability and how the finalists can integrate it into their businesses. To foster this, Woolmark has partnered with Provenance, a blockchain technology company, and Common Objective, a fashion networking platform.
“Customers should be able to truly see where things come from, what they’re made of and how they are affecting humanity and the planet. It’s for this reason we’re thrilled to be the official traceability partner for the 2020 International Woolmark Prize, which has a focus on traceability and reinforcing supply chain integrity,” said Jessi Baker, founder and chief executive officer of Provenance.
In the run-up to February, the 10 finalists will be provided with mentoring and workshops on supply chain traceability and will be judged on what they have learned. Some of the finalists have already been integrating traceability in their businesses.
“It’s important for us to tell the narrative about the antique textiles that we use, so in that way we are already including traceability on our hangtags,” said Emily Bode, founder of Bode, adding that she is eager to incorporate Provenance’s system on a sourcing level to trace everything down to the fiber.
“We can trace fibers to [their origin], maybe even what farm they came from, but particularly what mills they are using. We preserve a lot of historical techniques, so for us it’s all about the preservation of a historical fiber,” she added.
Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall said he’s eager to use traceability in his business to minimize his carbon footprint. “It’s every little detail because we move quite a lot of units globally and those are huge shifts when we are producing 60,000 garments each season. So just making changes like shipping by sea where possible and understanding what’s happening within our supply chain,” he said.
Ross added that sustainability needs to seep into every faction of his business. “It’s a 360 effect, it’s not just about plastic in your thread count. It’s me being more organized, such as using fewer fabric options, so mills won’t be running machines for weeks just for one or two pieces. Instead, you have a few key high quality fabrics spread across a smaller collection.”
Ross’ Woolmark collection will focus on popularizing the use of wool in technical and functional pieces for which he is known, and substituting them for his usual synthetic materials.
Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby of GmbH are also highlighting the use of wool in technical garments and educating the consumer. The duo has already been working with Woolmark to replace their fleeces with natural wool.
“Our hangtags have always said which countries the fabrics and garments were made and whether the product is biodegradable, organic, recycled etc. We want to educate the consumer instead of exploiting sustainability for marketing purposes,” said Isik, adding that democratizing the language around sustainability is a goal for their brand.
The duo is also looking forward to the workshops. “Being a finalist, we suddenly have access and support such as subsidizing and using methods, materials and techniques that might not be so accessible for younger designers, so it definitely gives us a jumpstart to improve on those things even more,” Huseby said.
Designer Feng Chen Wang is also looking to develop her sustainability practices. She’s been using plant dye and working with dead stock material as well as working with local artisans.
“It’s still a long journey to go but I’m looking at new ways to innovate and learning more about the technical side of things with wool and sustainability. I’m hoping that by working more sustainability I can influence more people and my consumers as well. I’m honored to be a part of Woolmark, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who wins, it’s about being given a chance to develop ideas I’ve had for a while,” Wang said.