Although winners receive a AU$100,000 cash injection into their brands, the IWP isn’t just about the money — it places a strong emphasis on wool design and mentorship for honorees. “The IWP helps emerging designers to build a solid selling network by providing them access to some of the world’s leading retailers as well as offering them exposure to media from around the globe,” explains Michelle Lee, Woolmark Company Director, Americas. “All finalists receive access to mentoring from esteemed industry leaders, and access to the IWP’s trade partner program, which connects them to the world’s best wool suppliers.”
Setting their sights on the 2015/16 IWP for womenswear, the British duo behind Teatum Jones successfully competed against five other finalists, including Nanna van Blaaderen from the Netherlands, J Koo from South Korea, Taller Marmo from the United Arab Emirates, Bianca Spender from Australia, and Tanya Taylor from the United States. The womenswear designers were judged by a panel at the New York Fashion Week, which included such luminaries as fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul, Vogue’s André Leon Talley, Business of Fashion’s Imran Amed, W Magazine’s Stefano Tonchi; alongside many others. “Entry to the IWP competition is by invitation only through a panel of regional nominating bodies, which include the BFC and the CFDA. In order to be nominated, designers must meet certain criteria such as demonstrated experience with working with wool and have produced a minimum of four collections,” elaborates Lee.