It's A Sweep! American Designers Won Both Woolmark Awards

Photographed by Victor Zhan.
There was a lot of synchronicity happening during this evening’s Woolmark Awards set in Beijing. For a company dedicated to the promotion of wool, it could only have been a good sign that 2015 is, coincidentally, China’s Year of the Sheep. Furthermore, the circular, skein-shaped symbol for Woolmark looks remarkably close to a Chinese symbol for money (a concept we’re sure most businesses would be psyched to be associated with). The winner of this year’s international womenswear prize came from the United States: Marcia Patmos of M.Patmos competed head-to-head against four other designers from around the world for the grand prize of $150,000 AUS, plus the opportunity to have their collections commercialized in dozens of international retailers. Patmos' victory follows NY-based Public School’s menswear win in January. That’s two for two, folks.   

But, the road to success wasn’t easy: The finalists had to basically create an additional collection utilizing wool on top of their regular output, which put an incredible strain on emerging designers’ already stretched resources. But, Patmos figured out a winning component early on: “People love a story. That was made incredibly [clear] in the first round, and I made sure that I had a strong one.” The story was partly about connecting streetwear with natural fibers (the wool-covered Nikes were one of the most photographed pieces of the evening), partly about sustainability (responsibly grown wool is one of the few eco-friendly and animal-friendly fibers), and partly about just being as warm as possible while looking as cool as possible — something Marcia knows after enduring this last miserable NYC winter.   

The contest was judged by an esteemed panel of experts, including Victoria Beckham, International Vogue editors-in-chief Angelica Cheung and Franca Sozzani, and Justin O’Shea of My Theresa, among others. Said Beckham, “The collection was well executed and the concept interesting.” Find it (including those sneakers) in stores this August 2015. The Woolmark Awards will be held in NYC in 2016.

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