Crutchley has also been announced the winner of the Innovation Award, celebrating the most innovative or sustainable approach to systems production, materials, textile design or product design. Crutchley will receive AU$100,000 as well as ongoing industry mentor support and commercial opportunities.
"There were 12 great designers today from around the world," explained the panelist Alber Elbaz. "It was quite wonderful to see designers from places like Korea, China and Sweden, because sometimes in fashion we think everything happens in Paris, so this was a reminder that the world is big and fashion comes from everywhere around the world."
Hailing from the UK, unisex label Edward Crutchley’s work is grounded in an innate understanding and appreciation of artisanal textiles. "I think it speaks volumes that there is a such a clear consensus on the winner of the International Woolmark Prize this year for Menswear and Innovation," said Tim Blanks, another panelist. "I don't think there's ever been a designer like Edward Crutchley in the competition. I find the whole idea of him being a winner and the figurehead of creative innovative use of wool in the fashion industry so exciting. I can't wait to see what's going to happen."
By exploring global cultural references and aspects of material culture, Crutchley’s garments explore the boundaries of form, silhouette and surface. Looking outside of traditional cultural signifiers to more sub-cultural references, Crutchley fuses a biker jacket with an 18th Century frock coat, reimagines the grungy tie-die on an American college knit with the help of the head of Kyoto Guild of Shibori Masters and references the cowboy's role within America's identity.
“This win means everything. It has changed my life forever. It's going to change the way I design and approach everything. I'm incredibly flattered.All of these references come together in a collection made from 100 per cent Merino wool. I have used a wide range of techniques that celebrate the touch of the artisan. My approach to innovation within this collection has been very much focused on artisanal skills and how these can be celebrated and used in a relevant and modern way. Every fabric I have used is exclusive and developed solely for this collection," said Crutchley.
Husband and wife duo Michael and Nicole Colovos' winning womenswear collection referenced classic wool sportswear and workwear throughout history yet updated this concept with modern proportions and patterning techniques. Sourcing innovative wool fabrications with contemporary finishes that evoke the look and feel of denim and silk; comfortable, effortless and trans-seasonal wool fabrics were created. The tailored coats, pants and skirts are made from wool that is completely traceable, washable and colour- and shrink-proof.
"Colovos’ work stood out for its quiet evidence," explained panelist Floriane de Saint Pierre. "Its pure design aesthetics, genuine functionality and the amazing and innovative use of super-light wool, combined with the founders’ attention to sustainability, make them deserve this great award and recognition."
"Our goal was to create a luxury, modern collection with a fully sustainable proposition," explained Michael Colovos. "We are committed to principles of zero waste in manufacturing, so all production waste and end-of-life garments will be recycled to create new fabrics, a process that uses steam, heat and citrus to breakdown the fabric waste and create a new fibre to be spun into fully recyclable yarns."
"The International Woolmark Prize is an award for the future leaders of the industry, an industry that is rapidly changing to meet the demands of a changing consumer, climate and resource availability," explained The Woolmark Company managing director Stuart McCullough. "The level of talent we saw today from all 12 designers was exceptional. Each and every one pushed the limits of the fibre, of their design and of the manufacturers they worked with."
The International Woolmark Prize is a unique talent development program which celebrates the world’s best emerging designers, providing them with ongoing mentorship from industry experts. This year’s entrants will join a prestigious alumni program, with 400 designers already benefitting from the award. (RR)
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