The International Woolmark Prize celebrates outstanding fashion talents from around the globe who showcase the beauty and versatility of Australian Merino wool. It is the world’s most prestigious award for rising fashion stars.
Six designers were selected from 380 applications around the world to compete in this year’s International Woolmark Prize. Each designer has received AUD$60,000 to carefully develop their Merino collections, keeping in mind the focus of this year’s prize, Less is More, celebrating responsible production and craftsmanship.
These are the three African finalists that were selected for the IW Prize
Founded in Paris in 2018 by French-Moroccan designer, Charaf Tajer, Casablanca’s aesthetic is full of colour, story and, luxury with original paintings and prints incorporated into silks, denim and, wool textiles each season.
Within the space of two short years, Tajer has garnered immense attention for his work, so much so that the menswear brand decided to introduce womenswear in July 2020. While moving into a new stage of growth, Casablanca is ardently focused on building longevity through lasting and timeless garments; cherished pieces worth taking care of.
Casablanca approaches textiles in unconventional ways, using wool as a fur-alternative for high-impact coats, and as a natural alternative to synthetic materials for sportswear. Tajer is also looking into using recycled wool in future work and restricts the use of cardboard packaging while forbidding the use of all plastic in processes.
KENNETH IZE, Nigeria
The namesake brand by Austrian-Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize focuses on reinterpreting Nigerian craft to decentralize ideas of luxury within the textile and fashion industries.
The Kenneth Ize brand is built on supporting local artisans and their communities; an approach centered around one weaving practice, in particular, aso oke. Ize is determined to keep this centuries-old technique alive in his collections, which involves a process that doesn’t require any electricity to create – just fabric, people power, and generations of know-how.
By promoting Nigerian and African artisanship to the Western fashion world, Kenneth Ize is determined to expand the industry for the better, all while celebrating tradition and empowering entire communities of creators.
THEBE MAGUGU, South Africa
Based in South Africa, Thebe Magugu is on a mission to elevate the view of African fashion through his clothing, which is equal parts modern, culturally rich, and optimistic. With a vision for single-country production, the Thebe Magugu brand, founded in 2016, is stridently committed to contributing to South Africa’s – and the continent’s – rising promise and prestige through design.
Thebe Magugu sees an inherent sense of sustainability in African culture – whether its ideas of circularity or the naturally slow, hand-worked output.
A storyteller at heart, Magugu garments ooze confidence, personality, and honesty, and all come with a traceability chip, which, when in contact with a smartphone, reveal the composition details of the garment, the collection inspiration, how it was made, and all the people who it passed through in its manufacturing journey.
The three other designers completing the final six are; Matty Bovan who is from the United Kingdom, Lecavalier from Canada and Bethany Williams also from the UK.