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Sydney - The International Woolmark Prize for rising fashion talent has updated its programme to include a longer timeframe and a greater focus on sustainability and innovation.

Launched in 1953, the award programme aims to empower emerging designers through education, financial investment, and industry support to harness the potential of wool within their collections.

The next edition of the prize will commence when applications open on the 16th April. Notable updates to the program include an extension to a two-year programme, providing designers with more time focus on innovation – encouraging a test, trial, learn, and improve design philosophy.

The judging criteria will also have an enhanced focus on sustainability and innovation with the winner receiving an increased prize fund of AU$300,000 providing them with the financial support needed to bring their ideas to life.

And for the first time, the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will be expanded to an industry award, which will be presented to any brand within the fashion industry that has “pushed the boundaries of Merino wool innovation’.

“The International Woolmark Prize is committed to supporting young talent,” said John Roberts, managing director, Woolmark. “To do this effectively, designers need more financial support, better access to sustainable materials and time to innovate with the latest technology. Our revised program aligns more closely with the evolving needs of the industry.”

Designers from across the globe who meet the criteria are invited to apply for prize until the 30th June 2024, after which an Advisory Council of industry experts will work side-by-side with Woolmark to select finalists that prioritise and champion inclusivity, innovation and fresh perspectives.

The Advisory Council is made up of a diverse group of esteemed global industry figures, including but not limited to: Gabriela Hearst, founder and creative director of Gabriela Hearst; Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, fashion editor and stylist; Sinéad Burke, educator, advocate and founder of Tilting the Lens; Janet Wang, head of Tmall Luxury Pavilion; Livia Firth, founder and chief agitator officer, Eco Age; Tim Blanks, editor-at-large, Business of Fashion; and Sara Sozzani Maino, creative director, Fondazione Sozzani.

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