NOT JUST A WEB SITE: Not Just A Label, the London-based B2B and B2C platform for emerging fashion designers worldwide, has taken on the new role of nominating body for the International Woolmark Prize.

An announcement is expected today.

NJAL will now stand alongside organizations such as the British Fashion Council, Vogue, Council of Fashion Designers of America and London’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise in helping to pick future prize winners.

The site will host an open call for applications from European designers who in the past slipped through the cracks in the nomination process because of where they live and work.

NJAL will have the power to select designers from a region known as Rest of Europe, or 36 territories including Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, Iceland and Kazakhstan, who were until now not eligible for the prize.

Applications open on Nov. 4, and will enable those designers to compete in what has become one of fashion’s top accolades.

Stefan Siegel, founder of the site that acts as a marketplace for 20,000 designers in 188 countries, said his team would be reviewing all applications over the coming four weeks.

“We are extremely excited to embark on this collaboration with IWP as we strive to expand the reach of this prestigious prize to designers in markets previously sidelined by the fashion industry at large,” he said.

“Geographical boundaries have never stopped NJAL, as we continue to support designers, run workshops and events in areas of the world shunned for reasons out of our designers’ control, such as political or economic turmoil,” he added.

“Fashion goes beyond Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. and we want to show that geographical boundaries don’t exist when it comes to the industry. We are also asking designers to apply online so they can steer their own fate rather than wait to be picked by one of the nominating bodies,” Siegel told WWD.

He said he and his team are also eager to see how designers from regions such as Ukraine — who may not have the top-drawer degrees from places such as Central Saint Martins in London — can perform against elite graduates from countries with established fashion industries.

NJAL acts as a business-to-business operation, connecting designers to manufacturers and retailers, and collaborates with industry organizations, such as trade fairs, to promote its designers worldwide.

Stuart McCullough, managing director of The Woolmark Company, said having NJAL as a new nominating body would allow Woolmark “to provide an opportunity to emerging designers to bring their own unique point of view to the competition.”

NJAL and a jury of industry figures will judge submissions and shortlist ten finalists for the Rest of Europe nomination.

Two final nominees will then be chosen to compete in IWP’s European regional competition in the summer of 2016, with a chance to receive AU$50,000 cash, or $35,690 at current exchange, in sponsorship and to compete at the international final events in 2017.

The global men’s and women’s wear winners will be awarded a further AU$100,000, or $71,370, and their winning Merino wool collections will be commercialized through a network of retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue; Harvey Nichols; Joyce; David Jones; Isetan Mitsukoshi; Boutique 1, in UAE; 10 Corso Como, in Italy and China; and

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