LONDON — Le Kilt and Matthew Miller have been named winners of the International Woolmark Prize for the British Isles. Le Kilt won for women’s wear and Matthew Miller won for men’s wear.
The results were announced Wednesday during a lunch at Spring restaurant in London. The prize means that both designers will move on to the final part of the design competition and compete for the global title.
Nominees for the women’s wear prize were Helen Lawrence, Roberts Wood and Sadie Williams. The men’s wear prize nominees were Liam Hodges and Phoebe English Man.
Jason Basmajian, Cerruti’s creative director, said the final choice was so difficult that he and fellow judges, Anita Barr, Candice Fragis, Emilia Wickstead and Daniel Kearns, had asked if there could be two winners each for the men’s and women’s categories.
He also said the process of interviewing and judging gave him faith in the future of the fashion industry. “This is what lies ahead,” he said of the designers taking part in the competition.
“At such an incredible moment of change in the industry, there is positivity, creativity and hope.” He added that the winners were chosen on how well they balanced creativity, innovation and commerciality.
Each of the 65 global nominees had received 2,000 Australian dollars to assist in the development of their submission piece ahead of the July regional finals, which are taking place in Dubai, Milan, New York, Seoul and Sydney.
Le Kilt’s founder and designer Samantha McCoach worked with merino wool to create a denim jacket, trousers and a sweater. They were embellished using old embroidery techniques, and she said her goal was to achieve “innovation through tradition.” She pulled the threads through the jacket and the trousers to give both items a pinstripe effect.
Miller said he wanted to treat wool as a luxury material “taking it from premier league to the Champions league.” He created a tuxedo with a functional element in the form of a detachable strap. The strap can be slung across the chest and used to carry the jacket. For the jacket, he used buttons made from Rosso Levanto marble.
While putting his looks together, he spent time in an English quarry, learning how to cut and polish marble with sharp bits of diamond. He said he relished the idea of working with three precious materials — wool, marble and diamonds — for his submission.
McCoach, Miller and the rest of the regional men’s wear and women’s wear winners will receive 70,000 Australian dollars toward the development of their next creation.
The Woolmark Co. said it has increased the monetary prizes at every level of the competition this year in a bid to reinforce its commitment to “supporting emerging design talent.”
Winners of the final competition will earn an additional 250,000 Australian dollars.
Le Kilt and Matthew Miller are also up for the newly introduced Innovation Award that was created to recognize the most unique and creative fabric or yarn development from a finalist.
The winner of the Innovation Award will receive 100,000 Australian dollars and being presented with commercial opportunities, according to Woolmark.
The textile mill responsible for the yarn’s development will be promoted via The Woolmark Co.’s global trade promotional program.
“Just when you may think you’ve seen it all, along comes an exciting new fabric or innovative new yarn, and that’s why we have established the Innovation Award,” said Stuart McCullough, The Woolmark Co.’s managing director.
“It not only keeps competition fierce, but it also allows for our prestigious trade partners to get global recognition and ultimately increases the market share of wool.”