Here Are the Eight Finalists for the 2023 International Woolmark Prize


Australia’s Woolmark Company has announced the eight finalists for its prestigious International Woolmark Prize, one of fashion’s most storied competitions. The menswear and womenswear designers in the competition will have a chance to win a grand prize of AU $200,000 (around $132,000 dollars), and the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, which is valued at AU $100,000 (around $66,000) — Lagerfeld won the top award in 1954.

John Roberts, the managing director for The Woolmark Company, said the finalists have “a passion for pushing the boundaries with Merino wool, whilst [also being] focused on improving their brand’s environmental and social impact.” They include the menswear designers Robyn Lynch of Ireland, South Korea’s Maxxij, the French label Bluemarble, Rhuigi Villaseñor’s of the LA brand Rhude, and Nigeria’s Lagos Space Programme, along with the womenswear labels Paolina Russo of England, Marco Rambaldi from Italy, and Denmark’s A. Roege Hove. Roberts added, “this group of designers also aligns with the global trends of casualization and performance-based apparel—two areas that are well-placed to be enhanced by Merino wool.”

Each finalist will receive an initial AU $60,000 (around $40,000 USD) to develop work on a capsule collection around the theme of ‘Dialogue,’ which continues the trend of abstract prompts begun by last year’s ‘Play.’ “We saw the need to ignite creative conversations across all generations and geographical locations,” Roberts explained. The finalists have already begun to parse what the concept means to them and the messages they want to convey through their work.

“My practice is committed to envisioning and partaking in African futures, not merely as a way to project our lives and stories into the future, but to uncover and rediscover the many avenues through which the past continues to inspire and instruct,” said Lagos Space Programme’s Adeju Thompson. Amelia Roege Hove, meanwhile, is keen on getting the point across that “true craftsmanship should be more relevant now than ever.” She added, “if you insist on working within a niche area and investigate its possibilities, it’s a gift more than a limitation.”  

A hyper-focus has proven especially successful for past winners like Saul Nash, whose dance-inspired collection included trench coats in weather-sealed wool and jacquards inspired by the Guyanese flag. Among this year’s finalists, Robyn Lynch and Rhude’s Rhuigi Villaseñor are also looking to explore their identities. “I want a sense of pride to come across in my work,” Lynch said, “to change the stereotype of how the Aran knit jumper is seen, and to redesign the structure and shape of something with so much history and tradition; to bring [it] into a new light and a new audience.” 

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