Teatum Jones, the United Kingdom brand, won the women’s 2015-16 International Woolmark Prize Friday night in a unanimous decision.

The brand beat out J. Koo (Asia), Bianca Spender (Australia), Nanna van Blaaderen (Europe), Taller Marmo (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Tanya Taylor (U.S.) in the contest.

The designers behind Teatum Jones, Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, were ecstatic as they accepted their award at Cedar Lake in New York following a presentation of all six finalists’ collections featuring innovative Merino wool designs. Teatum Jones has been in business for four-and-a-half years.

“It’s such a massive honor. It’s got such a rich history,” said Teatum. The designers said their first order of business was to get Champagne. Second, they have a show during London Fashion Week in five days, said Rob Jones. With the prize money, they said their goal is to keep developing textiles and push the label to the next level. For their winning collection, Catherine Teatum said she wanted to create “a relevant wardrobe that’s very shoppable.” Jones added that their designs come from a human story. Jones is into music and Catherine is into literature.

The designers were inspired by a Wool Utopia conceived by English nun Agnes Morrogh-Bernard in 1892, when she founded the Foxford Woolen Mills to weave luxurious woolen blankets and restore hope to an impoverished town. The designers traveled to the mill to create exclusive blankets and modernized them with geometric foil prints and hand embroideries on jackets and skirts. The duo also partnered with a lace mill in France, convincing them to use wool for the first time to create vibrant geometric Merino laces, inspired by the geometric borders of the blankets. The duo then flew to Italy, where they developed a stretch wool that feels like a scuba suit, upon which they bonded the Merino lace.

Teatum Jones will receive 100,000 Australian dollars, or about $71,020 at current exchange, to help support the development of the business. The designers will also receive ongoing mentor support. Their collection will be carried in stores such as David Jones (Australia), MyTheresa.com (online), Harvey Nichols (U.K.), Boutique 1 (UAE), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Japan), Saks Fifth Avenue (U.S.), and new retail partners Verso (Belgium) and Boon the Shop (South Korea).

André Leon Talley, former editor at large at Vogue and an author, editor and consultant, said, “The vote was unanimous. They got high marks. There is a sense of the romantic” in their collection, which also has “extraordinary pragmatism.”

“There’s something playful about them,” added Talley. “They’re not outrageously edgy.”

Julie Gilhart, fashion consultant, said that the Teatum Jones designers had a very interesting story to tell  and she was impressed by their presentation and the research that they put into their collection.

“It was pretty unanimous,” said Stuart McCullough, managing director of the Woolmark Co. “The judges felt it was on target as a commercial product. It was beautiful and on trend. The retail judges felt it would sell. We need a winner that will go out the door,” he said.

 

 

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