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International Woolmark awards prize for menswear

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Indian designer Suketdhir is the 2015/2016 International Woolmark Prize menswear award winner, announced at the world’s foremost menswear trade fair Pitti Uomo, Florence, Italy.

Using the traditional Indian technique of hand-tied and dyed yarn (Ikat), Suketdhir’s winning collection involves hand embroidery to create geometric, grid-like patterns in an update on the classic quilting stitch. The two yarns to weave the fabrics involved 18.2 micron and 16.5 micron Australian Merino wool.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Haider Ackermann, Designer; Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Business of Fashion; Suzy Menkes, International Editor, Vogue; Nick Sullivan, Fashion Director, Esquire; Masafumi Suzuki, Editor-in-Chief, GQ Japan; Linda Loppa, Director of Strategy and Vision, Polimoda; Raffaello Napoleone, Chief Executive, Pitti Immagine and Stuart McCulloughand Stuart McCullough, CEO, Australian Wool Innovation, alongside representatives from IWP’s retail partners that included David Jones in Australia and Saks Fifth Avenue New York.

Connecting the world’s leading fashion designers with Australian Merino wool is extremely important due to the enormous influence these designers have in setting global textile trends for mainstream retail brands.

The International Woolmark Prize generates long-term incremental demand for wool by connecting emerging designers, emerging markets and consumers with Australia’s versatile natural fibre.

According to the judging panel, Suketdhir was a unanimous decision. “In fashion, I’m always looking for emotion, for the heartbeat, for the feeling that something excites me – it may come from an ancient skill but it seems fresh to me,” said Suzy Menkes of Suketdhir’s collection. Designer Haider Ackermann agreed. “For me, it wasn’t a hard decision,” he said. “Suket is a person with a dream to tell, and I thought that it was very beautiful, because fashion at this time is about a dream, and the rest – the business – will follow. And technically, he showed us details I’ve never seen before, and that’s very impressive.”

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough explained: “What Suketdhir designs is romantic, and that’s very appealing in fashion, and certainly was to the judging panel. All of the designers will no doubt go on to great commercial success in all parts of the world, but we can only name one winner, and today romance won.”

Innovation is at the heart of Suketdhir’s collection for the International Woolmark Prize, which cleverly fuses classic western tailoring with elements of the designer’s national dress, such as oversized proportions and lightweight fabrics. “My collection explores the trans-seasonal aspects of wool and the alchemic transformation of the fibrous wool into smooth, silk-like yarn, which renders the fabric light, airy, fluid and yet full and supple.”

Following the announcement, the designer explained: “This is certainly very overwhelming, and everything that I needed right now. I’ve done what I could in India, and this is the best thing that could happen to me, for me to move in a bigger way. I think I’m ready for the world, and I also think the world is ready for me and for this kind of aesthetic. The look is easy and happy, and the world needs that right now.”

This is the second year that the International Woolmark Prize has included a menswear category, last year won by New York-based label Public School. More than 70 designers were considered for the prize over the past year, with the finalists representing six different regions around the world. These include Munsoo Kwon (Asia), P. Johnson (Australia), AGI & SAM (British Isles), Jonathan Christopher (Europe), Suketdhir (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Siki Im (USA).

Suketdhir will receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business and ongoing industry mentor support, as well as the presentation and sale of their capsule collection, created for the International Woolmark Prize, in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. These include (online), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Japan), David Jones (Australia), Saks Fifth Avenue (New York), 10 Corso Como (Milan) and Boon The Shop (South Korea).



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