Each year, the Woolmark Prize rewards outstanding fashion designers from around the globe while highlighting the benefits of using Australian wool in luxury fashion. For the 2021 competition, which is focused on transparency and responsibly produced fashion, six designers will showcase collections made entirely from Merino wool.

After a lengthy deliberation by the council, which features industry experts like Naomi Campbell, Sinead Burke and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, the finalists (chosen from over 380 international applicants) have been selected.

Council members picked Bethany Williams, Casablanca, Kenneth Ize, Lecavalier, Matty Bovan and Thebe Magugu for their commitments to innovation, inclusivity and transparency. As these designers compete for the finalist prize's AU $200,000 (approximately $146,444 USD) to invest in their brand, council members like Campbell will mentor and advise them — as they've done with past winners like Richard Malone, Edward Crutchley, and Matthew Miller.

Finalists will also have the opportunity to be stocked in global luxury stores like Browns, Ssense and Net-A-Porter through the International Woolmark Prize Retailer Network.

"Now more so than ever, in these incredibly challenging times for our industry, we must continue to support and nurture the emerging voices in fashion design," Campbell said in a statement. "They are the future, and I look forward to seeing what creative and innovative work comes out of this year's entries to push our industry's ongoing mission in diversity and sustainability."

Though the Woolmark Prize itself is a great honor, there will be an additional opportunity for one of the brands to win another prize. The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, which debuted last year and was given to Bode, will bestow AU $100,000 (approximately $73,224 USD) to the Prize winner or another finalist designer.

As the Prize's main event usually consists of an in-person runway show, the format's potential change due to COVID-19 is unclear right now. However, Woolmark will be introducing its inaugural Supply Chain Award in the 2021 competition, celebrating a trade partner's increased awareness for innovation in wool supply chains.

Photos courtesy of the International Woolmark Prize

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