Melbourne label wins regional Woolmark Prize final with recycled wool

Sheep Central August 17, 2017

From left, BLAIRARCHIBALD model, menswear winner Blair Archibald, Harman Grubiša designers Jessica Grubiša, centre, and Madeleine Harman, far right, flank one of their models.

MELBOURNE label BLAIRARCHIBALD has won the menswear section of the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize Australia and New Zealand regional final at an awards event in Sydney.

The womenswear winner in the regional final was the New Zealand brand Harman Grubiša, run by the design duo Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubiša.

Australian Wool Innovation said Blair Archibald incorporated an old Army blanket and recycled wool fabric into his winning coat, to uphold the sustainable practices which lie at the heart of his label. He also produced trousers made from 17.5 micron wool and a turtleneck from 21 micron fibre.

“It’s completely gratifying to be part of something that’s so innovating in itself,” the designer said.

“It’s my job as a designer to be really informative and educational with my clients and the public.

“To be able to win something like this means I can continue with sustainable practices and be really proud to be an Australian-made brand,” he said.

Judging panel member and head of design at R.M. Williams, Jeremy Hershan, said the work of Blair Archibald was very well considered, in terms of its aesthetic, functionality and provenance.

“I think the concept of mixing new innovation – mixing Merino wool with military – was a great nod to sustainability and was a nice angle.

“In terms of a full head-to-toe look it was very well-rounded and there was commercial appeal,” he said.

Click here to get the latest Sheep Central story links sent to your email inbox.

NZ brand wins womenswear award with versatility

AWI said Harman Grubiša was praised for its versatility, producing a 16 micron wool dress that transformed into a clutch. It was inspired by the urban nomad, with the winning look satisfying the needs of the Harman Grubiša woman, AWI said.

Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubiša said it was a real honour to even be nominated and included and they felt extremely privileged that Woolmark existed.

“It encourages designers to think about the material they use and to be part of that journey is so wonderful.”

Judging panel member and 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize womenswear winner Gabriela Hearst said Harman Grubiša is very entrepreneurial and very driven.

“They have commercial viability and are creatively there.

“I think this is a great opportunity for them to expand.”

AWI said the regional final winners won a A$70,000 prize and the opportunity to compete in the prestigious international final. In addition, each winner will receive mentoring support from a global panel of experts along with being granted a Woolmark licence.

For the next six-to-seven months, the winning designers will be required to develop a capsule collection in Merino wool, to be showcased at an extraordinary event that will highlight the six menswear finalists and six womenswear finalists selected from across the globe, AWI said.

The other members of the regional final judging panel were Harper’s Bazaar Australia editor in chief Kellie Hush; David Jones womenswear general manager Damian Burke; Garry Pepper Girl founder Nicole Warne; Men’s Style fashion director Kim Payne, and; The Woolmark Company managing director Stuart McCullough.

Woolmark Prize to help designers expand globally

Ms Warne said the International Woolmark Prize is a fantastic initiative to be able to support emerging designers and provide financial support, mentorship and expansion in retail stores.

“It’s going to help the winners with global expansion in every way.

“I think it is the most prestigious award you could win and being Australian I feel very connected and very proud of what Woolmark stands for.”

The winners of the menswear and womenswear global finals will receive a further A$200,000 to assist with fabric sourcing and marketing of their collection, as well as mentoring from industry experts.

A third winner will also be selected at the global final as part of the newly introduced Innovation Award. In addition, the international winners will have the opportunity to have their collection distributed through the prize’s prestigious international retail partner network including Boon the Shop, S. Korea; Boutique 1, UAE; David Jones, Australia; De Bijenkorf, Amsterdam; Harvey Nichols, UK; Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto; LECLAIREUR, Paris; mytheresa.comORDRE; and SSENSE.COM.

AWI said the International Woolmark Prize aims to increase the global demand for Australian Merino wool, by promoting the versatility of the fibre and aligning young talent with commercial opportunities and ongoing mentorship from industry heavyweights. It remains AWI’s most successful marketing strategy and provides design talent across the globe with the opportunity to be stocked in the world’s most influential retailers.

AWI said new demand is generated not only from the loyalty to wool from the designers, but also from consumers who are experiencing the immediate presence of Woolmark-branded apparel in the world’s best boutique and online retailers, with 1000 new wool-rich pieces from the two winners made available to the retail partners. The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of about 50,000 woolgrowers that help fund the company.

For more information on the International Woolmark Prize go to

Source: AWI.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -