DYNE and Zaid Affas have been announced as the menswear and womenswear winners, respectively, of the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize USA regional final, at an awards event held in New York City.
A panel comprising André Leon Talley - Fashion author, editor and consultant, former Editor-at-Large, American Vogue; Kate Lanphear – Brand Strategist and Consultant; Laura Brown - Editor-in-Chief, InStyle; Stefano Tonchi - Editor-in-Chief, W Magazine; Steven Kolb - President and CEO, CFDA; Julie Gilhart - Fashion consultant and International Woolmark Prize mentor; Malcolm Carfrae - Founder, Carfrae Consulting and International Woolmark Prize mentor; Nick Sullivan - Fashion Director, Esquire; and Michelle A. Lee - Head of Americas, The Woolmark Company selected DYNE and Zaid Affas as the winners.
“I think that there are not enough initiatives like this - giving designers the access to knowledge and building blocks that they need to be successful,” said Esquire Fashion Director and judge Nick Sullivan. “The brands that stand the test of time are brands that are able to expose the way clothing is made down to the cloth and the more Woolmark can help show them the potential of what they can do with wool, the more successful the brands will be."
Inspired by learning to snowboard in the 1980s - in a wool bomber jacket - Bevans designed a technical snowboard outfit, complete with an NFC chip in the water-resistant wool jacket to track users in avalanches and ultimately bridge the gap between the brand and the consumer.
“What I loved was the humble way he [DYNE designer Christopher Bevans] spoke about the fabric with reverence - that was something that really got my attention,” said judge and brand consultant and strategist, Kate Lanphear. “His pieces were so extremely innovative, yet he still spoke so humbly about them and about wool, it seemed holy, and I really liked that exchange.”
“First, I’m honoured to win this award - everyone at Woolmark has been so positive in helping me understand more about wool and how it works - to win this award has left me speechless,” said DYNE designer Christopher Bevans after his win. “It’s been a fantastic ride and I’m looking forward to working more with wool and The Woolmark Company, as well as, becoming a mentor to future emerging designers.”
Inspired by the irregular mix of some of nature's purest elements, minerals and forms, Zaid Affas’ collection represents attributes embodied by rutile and raw crystal. These textured materials within the collection illustrate the interesting formation of colour through time, containing the depth of time within the material/colour and its ever-changing state.
“I’m extremely honoured and excited to win this prize,” said womenswear winner Zaid Affas. “To be chosen by such an esteemed panel of judges and to be given this incredible opportunity by The Woolmark Company means a lot to me.”
“What I think is interesting about this year’s winners is that they have a lot of experience behind them, but their namesake brands are still in the stages of youth,” said Fashion consultant and International Woolmark Prize mentor Julie Gilhart. “You have two designers who are both over 40 - Zaid who has a lot of experience in American couture and Chris who has a lot of experience in streetwear - and they’re both able to combine what’s old and what’s new in a way that makes a lot of sense. They both understand that The Woolmark Company is about innovation and commerciality, so although they’re opposites and they have this familiarity.”
Chosen from amongst the most promising fashion design talents from the USA, both winners gain a financial contribution of AU$70,000, plus 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.
The winners of the menswear and womenswear global finals will receive a further AU$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.com; ORDRE and SSENSE.COM.
The Woolmark Company is pleased to have the support of makeup by MAC, Cutler and ORDRE.com for this year’s regional events, along with multidisciplinary artist Jonathan Zawada who created the stunning trophies and decorative wares for each regional event.