The Woolmark Company and leading sports brand adidas have announced the 10 finalists for the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students aimed at pushing the limits of product innovation and is set to kick-start the career of the eventual winner. In its first year the award attracted 510 student registrations from 58 universities from across Europe and North America.
The 10 finalists for this year’s Woolmark Performance Challenge are:
- Jeni Allison – Heriot Watt University – UK
- Youngmi Kim – Institut Français de la Mode – France
- Lihong Lao – Cornell University, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design – USA
- Marlies Reuker – Amsterdam Fashion Institute, HvA – Netherlands
- Martin Stricker – ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne) – Switzerland
- Alicia Ferreira de Sousa – L’École de la Maille de Paris – France
- Christel Thue Høgsted – University of Oregon – USA
- Olivia Echols – University of Oregon – USA
- Inga Grether – Albstadt-Sigmaringen University – Germany
- Phoebe Edwards – Nottingham Trent University – UK
This exciting competition provides an unrivaled opportunity for tertiary students to develop innovative new product applications within the sports and performance market, by applying the science and natural performance benefits of Australian Merino wool. Launched in January 2018 at ISPO, Munich, the Woolmark Performance Challenge will now expand to a global competition for 2018/19, offering the chance to uncover and nurture innovative young minds from across the globe.
“At the time when we started to plan the adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge I thought this is a small project,” explained adidas Senior Design Director Tillmann Studrucker. “But it has gone beyond my expectation in terms of reach and participation since then. I am more than excited to see that there has been such a high interest in the competition. I want to thank all participants for their effort and time they put into this project. With all the creative and innovative ideas, it was not easy to make a decision on the top 10 ideas that were most fitting to adidas and The Woolmark Company. It will get even harder when we have to select the winner.”
Taking advantage of the explosive growth in demand for sportswear and activewear, wool’s position as a technical fibre allows it to meet increasingly demanding consumer needs for comfort and performance. Wool is recognised by leading sportswear brands and manufacturers for its technical benefits including resistance to odour, superb breathability and moisture management capabilities.
“We knew when putting together the brief that we’d get the chance to review interesting projects that will challenge and benefit the current use of Merino wool,” said adidas Talent Acquisition, Design, Recruiter Louis de Vos. “However, we were actually overwhelmed by the forward-thinking spirit of each and every participant entry pushing the boundary forward. Going through the innovative ideas of the students was an inspiring journey that let us look forward to the coming next generation of creators joining our industry.”
The Woolmark Performance Challenge winner will be awarded a cash prize of €10,000, as well as being presented with career development and commercial opportunities including a three-month internship with adidas.
“The Woolmark Performance Challenge is an exciting new phase of our product development program,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough. “It provides an excellent opportunity for young talent to find a place for their exciting innovation on the international stage, whilst pushing the infinite possibilities of Merino wool into unchartered territories.”
The 10 finalists will travel to London in September for two days of training workshops with The Woolmark Company and partners, before travelling to Denver, Colorado, to present their entries to an executive judging panel at Outdoor Retailer. The inaugural winner of the Woolmark Performance Challenge will be announced at Outdoor Retailer, on November 9.
Jeni Allison: Heriot Watt University, UK, MA Knitwear (Design, Heritage and Production). “I am interested in combining the naturally occurring technical properties of Merino wool with innovations in technology and knitwear production to create beautiful activewear which both inspires and allows people to be fitter in their everyday lives.”
Youngmi Kim: Institut Français de la Mode, France, Postgraduate Program – Major in garment (Womenswear). “And the story must continue.”
Lihong Lao: Cornell University, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, USA, Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering (Fiber Science). “My research interest is surface chemistry for different fibrous materials to enable different new functionalities, such as for Merino wool fibres.”
Marlies Reuker: Amsterdam Fashion Institute, HvA, Netherlands, International Fashion Design (BSc of Fashion and Textile Technologies). “Refined Merino knits played an important role in my pursuit of comfort optimisation. Merino wool was responsible for the thermal sense of comfort, while I used 3D virtual prototyping to analyse and increase mobility features and the freedom of movement.”
Martin Stricker: ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne), Switzerland, Industrial Design. “Now I truly want a Merino sheep in my garden.”
Alicia Ferreira de Sousa: L’École de la Maille de Paris, France, Knitwear Design. “‘Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed’ – Lavoisier. This quote was my guideline in my work for this project with Merino wool. Take inspiration from the existential elements and behaviours of nature in order to rethink, improve, revalorize and recycle them to open useful fields of applications, both sustainable and ecological.”
Christel Thue Høgsted: University of Oregon, USA Master of Science (MS) in Sports Product Design. “We need to develop an alternative to the massive use of man-made fibres used in sports apparel. With the newest innovations within Merino wool we can now create high-performance products with low environmental impact.”
Olivia Echols: University of Oregon, USA, Master of Science in Sports Product Design. “What I find most interesting about Merino wool, is that it already has so many of the amazing benefits that synthetics try to replicate. Why recreate what already occurs in the natural world?”
Inga Grether: Albstadt-Sigmaringen University, Germany, Textile Management. “The combination of modern technology with natural materials is the sustainability of the future. This would be my first experience in working with Merino.”
Phoebe Edwards: Nottingham Trent University, UK, Fashion Knitwear Design Masters Degree. “As a specialist in performance-wear and knit innovation, I have identified a niche in the skiwear base-layer industry, using Merino wool’s incredible performance properties to combine technical knit structure placement with anatomy and biomechanical considerations such as muscle identification with stretch, compression, heat harnessing, joint support and ventilation allocations to combat the challenge of fashion vs functionality within a second skin supporting base layer.”
About The Woolmark Company:
The Woolmark Company is the global authority on wool. Through our extensive network of relationships spanning the international textile and fashion industries, we highlight Australian wool’s position as the ultimate natural fibre and premier ingredient in luxury apparel. The Woolmark logo is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands, providing assurance of the highest quality, and representing pioneering excellence and innovation from farm through to finished product.
The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of about 60,000 woolgrowers that help fund the company.
adidas is a global leader in the sporting goods industry with the core brands adidas and Reebok. Headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany, the Group has 60,000 employees across the globe and generated sales of €19 billion in 2016.
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