AUSTRALIA’S WOOLMARK WINNER: Christopher Esber is Australia’s finalist for the 2013-14 edition of the International Woolmark Prize.

Announced at a lunch on Thursday at the Sydney Theatre Co., the 26-year-old Esber was selected from a field of eight and has been awarded 50,000 Australian dollars, or $46,139 at current exchange. The funds will go toward the production of an Australian superfine merino wool capsule collection that is to be presented at the event’s final in Milan on Feb. 28. Joining him there will be Joseph Altuzarra (USA), Sibling (Europe) and ffixxed (Hong Kong), with India-Middle East finalists to be decided in coming weeks.

This story first appeared in the July 19, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Esber began sewing at the age of 15 and graduated from East Sydney TAFE’s Fashion Design Studio in 2007 — in the same class as last year’s International Woolmark Prize Australian finalist, Dion Lee.

Known for his innovative fabrications, precision tailoring and luxury detailing, Esber’s winning two-piece ensemble consisted of a shaggy woollen vest layered over a zippered jumpsuit that converts to a dress, cut from a new Dormeuil merino fabric with a water-resistant nanotechnology finish.

“I think the talent is there — now they just have to build the confidence to take it to the next level” said The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman, who flew in to take part in the judging and announce the winner.

In addition to a 100,000 Australian dollar prize purse ($92,300), the IWP overall winner also gets to sell their merino capsule collection via Woolmark’s participating retail network.

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