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Korean wins Woolmark Prize’s Asia contest

July 12,2017
Contestants of this year’s Woolmark Prize Asia Regional at the end of the award ceremony on July 10 at Horim Art Center in southern Seoul. The winners of the Asia region, Kye Han-hee, center, and Six Lee, back row, second from left, will receive 70,000 dollar and the chance to compete in the world finals, which will take place early next year. [WOOLMARK COMPANY]
Kye Han-hee of Korea and Six Lee of Hong Kong have won the 2017/18 Woolmark Prize’s Asia regional contest, held in Seoul on July 10 at the Horim Art Center. They received $70,000 and qualified to compete at the finals of the international fashion competition along with contestants from the five other regions - Australia and New Zealand; the British Isles; Europe; the United States; and India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The final champion among the six regional contestants will receive $200,000 and have their design sold by major retailers around the world.

The International Woolmark Prize (IWP), dedicated to finding and nurturing new talent in the fashion industry, expanded into Asia in 2013. Contestants are required to develop new designs and new materials using merino wool, with all the costs covered by the Woolmark Company. The IWP is known to have provided a foundation of growth for the world’s most renowned designers, uncluding Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director at Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent, who both won the prize in 1954. Han Hyun-min, designer of MUNN, won the Asian menswear final the previous year.

This year’s task was to design a merino wool capsule collection of six pieces of clothing that highlight the beauty and convenience of merino wool fiber. A “capsule collection” is a term coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s to refer to a minimal set of clothes of the most essential pieces that do not go out of fashion and can be used throughout all seasons, such as skirts, trousers and jackets.

“Kye’s winning merino wool collection broke free from the conventional usage of wool, which lacked the connection with the younger generation, and managed to bring about a dynamic and casual interpretation of the fabric,” said Jeong Hwa-kyung, a member of the judging panel. Six Lee scored high on his contemporary design for men’s suits, using blue-and-white checked patterns, influenced by the traditional clothing of Kenya.

Korean runners-up for this year’s competition were Kye Han-hee of KYE in womenswear and the duo of BMUET(TE) Seo Byung-mun and Um Ji-na for menswear. Designers from other Asian countries included: Peggy Hartanto (Indonesia), Pronounce (Greater China), Roggykei (Japan), Shushu/Tong (China), Staffonly (China) and Yuima Nakazato (Japan).

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]