Matthew Miller and Bodice – from the British Isles and India – were yesterday announced the winners of the menswear and womenswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence. In addition, the USA’s DYNE was announced the winner of the inaugural Innovation Award.
Inspired by designer and philosopher Dieter Rams, British designer Matthew Miller took the idea ‘form follows function’ to add multifunctional elements for different environments, such as the addition of the garment belt system which acts as a way to turn the garment into an accessory in warmer climates. Miller treated wool in a variety of ways, including innovative treatments to create water resistant fabrics and has erased the need for plastic fastenings by using recycled material, such as waste marble. Using Australian Merino wool ranging from 17.5 to 20.5 microns, the Matthew Miller multi-layered collection reflects the label’s design philosophy, developing the inherent character of each piece.
Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing. Collaborating with hand weavers and encouraging them to take an unorthodox approach to traditional techniques, Ruchika Sachdeva produced an elegant collection honoring Australian Merino wool and the artisans of her country. Bodice also worked with Bio-Dye in Sawantwadi, central India, which makes all colors from natural sources. The color palette of navy and forest green mixed with pink and green pastels contains natural dyes and are safe for the skin – a nod to the ancient practices of Ayurveda. Completing the label’s holistic approach, Bodice sourced buttons from renewable sources of coconut shell, seashell and wood.
Celebrating innovation in design, Miroslava Duma presented the inaugural Innovation Award – powered by Future Tech Lab – to DYNE. Inspired by learning to snowboard in the 1980s – in a wool bomber jacket – the collection of DYNE’s Christopher Bevans comprised a technical snowboarding wardrobe, 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.
Both Matthew Miller and Bodice will each receive AU$200,000 (about $156,000) to help support the development of their business. They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques including Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury. DYNE will receive AU$100,000 (about $78,000) along with commercial opportunities.
The collections will also be presented for the first time at the British Fashion Council’s LONDON show ROOMS at TRANOÏ WEEK in Paris, January 18-23, at VNH Gallery, 108 Rue Vieille Du Temple, 75003, Paris.