LONDON-BASED brand Teatum Jones has won the womenswear final of the 2015/2016 International Woolmark Prize at a special event on Friday during New York Fashion Week.
Using a mix of 17.5 micron and 19.5 micron Australian Merino wool for their clothes, and 23 micron wool for the accessories, the UK womenswear design duo, Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, developed their collection by partnering with a specialist guipure lace mill in France, to create innovative, vibrant geometric Merino laces – inspired by the geometric borders of blankets.
The Teatum Jones team convinced the French mill to use wool for the first time after seeking inspiration at the Foxford Woollen mills in Ireland, where they created exclusive blankets and modernised them with geometric foil prints and hand embroideries on skirts and jackets. The Foxford mills operation was originally conceived by English nun Agnes Morrogh-Bernard in 1892 as a wool utopia to weave luxurious woollen blankets and restore hope to an impoverished town.
Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones then flew to Italy where they developed a stretch wool that feels similar to a scuba suit, upon which they bonded the Merino lace, creating a luxurious lace fabric that performed as a structured tailoring cloth.
Teatum Jones pushes for innovation with wool
The Teatum Jones designers said they had “pushed” innovation in textile development and in the use of Merino wool for their regional entry.
“We had developed many techniques and new ways of using Merino, which impressed the judges.
“For the final capsule collection, we decided to take the strongest of these techniques and concentrate on developing them, refining them and maximising the beauty in their potential,” the designers said.
“This is amazing, we are honoured and excited and it’s just the beginning; we have only scratched the surface.
“This award lets us ignite the magic of wool, so the customer sees the romance in wool,” they said.
“This competition is the opportunity to be physically present at store launches and being able to pass on that experience to the customer is magical.”
Winners showcased wool in unique and commercial way – McCullough
Australian Wool Innovation chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said Teatum Jones has showcased wool in a unique but very commercial way.
“We are excited about their take on Australian Merino wool and it feels like something very new.”
Woolmark Prixe judge and respected fashion author André Leon Talley said he loved Teatum Jones’ original concept, the articulation of the concept and the romanticism of the clothes.
“They did their research in terms of sourcing and I believe some customers will really respond to the narrative.
“It was wonderful.”
Fellow judge and Thakoon’s chief creative officer, Thakoon Panichgul said the winner took to the task of using wool in innovative ways.
“They showed artisanal qualities through wool lace, colour blocking and double-faced wool creating a three-dimensional quality.”
Other judges of the WP collections included Imran Amed, founder, CEO & editor-in-chief, Business of Fashion; Tim Blanks, editor-at-large, Business of Fashion; Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief, W Magazine; Julie Gilhart, fashion consultant and International Woolmark Prize mentor; Colette Garnsey, director, AWI; Mr McCullough and representatives from the International Woolmark Prize’s retail partners.
More than 70 designers were considered for the womenswear award of the International Woolmark Prize over the past year, with the finalists representing six different regions around the world. The finalists were J KOO (Asia), Bianca Spender (Australia), Teatum Jones (British Isles), Nanna van Blaaderen (Europe), Taller Marmo (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Tanya Taylor (USA).
Teatum Jones will receive AU$100,000 to help support the development of their business. They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, and their capsule collection, created for the International Woolmark Prize, will go on sale in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques. These include MyTheresa.com (online), David Jones (Australia), Harvey Nichols (United Kingdom), Boutique 1 (UAE), Isetan Mitsukoshi (Japan), Saks Fifth Avenue (USA) and new partner retailers Verso (Belgium) and Boon the Shop (South Korea).