Brandon Maxwell Pivots to Activewear for the Woolmark Prize
The International Woolmark Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for emerging design talent. Launched in 1953, its past winners have included Gabriela Hearst, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. It’s clear that their support can be a launchpad for future career success. Not only do winners take home a cash prize, but their collection gets picked up by a Woolmark retail partner and they also receive business mentorship which can be vital to up-and-coming brands. Three awards will be presented: womenswear, menswear and the innovation prize.
Innovation is the focal point of the Woolmark Prize as designers are challenged to create something truly original and unique to their brand with Merino wool.
This weekend during London Fashion Week the 12 global finalists will present their six-piece collection in a group runway show. Alber Elbaz, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Brown, Tim Blanks and Tiffany Hsu are just a few names who will judge the final competition
Representing the United States as one of three American finalists vying for the AU200,000 grand prize is New York design darling Brandon Maxwell. Colovos and Willy Chavarria are also in the running. Maxwell just debuted his Fall 2019 collection in New York while simultaneously working on his Woolmark Prize collection which will be comprised of activewear, a new area for the designer.
The Texas-born designer who is also known as Lady Gaga’s longtime stylist, launched his own namesake collection for Spring 2016. His brand has quickly become a red-carpet favorite worn by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama, Blake Lively, Tiffany Haddish, and Kerry Washington, just to name a few. His clothes are synonymous with glamorous and bold women—much like his original inspiration Lady Gaga.
The designer makes quite the pivot, from ballgowns to activewear for his Woolmark Prize entry, but his motives remain the same. “It’s all about the women!” Maxwell told Bazaar, “they aren’t attending formal events every night, they have full lives, jobs and children! I wanted to give them something for those moments when they are off-duty.”
Sustainability is also a huge anchor to the Woolmark Prize, as they encourage brands to work more with Merino wool which is hugely versatile and completely biodegradable. On sustainability in the industry, Maxwell said, “I think it should be important to all fashion brands. Working with Woolmark gave me the opportunity to try my hand at new fabrications that are sustainable. I was fascinated to learn that when a Merino wool garment has reached the end of this wear, it can be added to organic compost, as wool fibers are biodegradable. I’m learning so much about wool and the environment and I’m happy to incorporate this fabric in my collections moving forward.”
Stay tuned to find out the grand prize winners!
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