Some of the country's most promising fashion talents are competing for this year’s International Woolmark Prize as the British Isles has been added as a standalone region to the competition for the first time. Teatum Jones, J. JS Lee, Thomas Tait, Fyodor Golan and Phoebe English are womenswear nominees, while Agi & Sam, Craig Green, A. Sauvage, Lee Roach and Kit Neale are competing for the menswear prize.

The British Isles has been removed from the award’s Europe category and is the sixth region to be added to the competition. Despite its struggles during the past few decades, the UK wool industry has picked up momentum recently, with last year's sales of British wool jumping by around two thirds in six years to £300m, according to industry estimates. “The addition of a sixth region [British Isles] was in response to demand coming from the industry,” says Stuart McCullough, managing director of The Woolmark Company.

Now in its fourth year, the award was first held in 1953 as an initiative of the International Wool Secretariat. Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent were awarded the first prize the following year. Revived in 2012, the prize promotes fashion designers working with Australian merino wool.

The British Isles regional awards will be held in London on 3rd July this year, when designers will present sketches of their Merino wool capsule collections comprising six outfits apiece. Five other regional awards will be held in Shanghai, Sydney, Antwerp, Dubai and New York. Twelve global finalists (two designers from each of the six regions) will each win AU$50,000 and the overall winner will receive a further AU$100,000. 

​Text by Jainnie Cho