Matty Bovan Wins the 2021 International Woolmark Prize

Matty Bovan Wins the 2021 International Woolmark Prize

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Matty Bovan Wins the 2021 International Woolmark Prize

This year's awards centred on sustainability throughout the creative process and future-proofing designs.

This year's awards centred on sustainability throughout the creative process and future-proofing designs.

Text: Rocio Fabbro

British designer Matty Bovan has been announced as the winner of the 2021 International Woolmark Prize and the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation following a special virtual event. 

Through the lens of this year’s theme, ‘Less is More’, judges primarily focused on sustainable practices, with a spotlight on Australian Merino wool as the green thread in responsible fashion. 

The illustrious panel, consisting of industry experts Carine Roitfeld, Ib Kamara, Shaway Yeh, Sinéad Burke, Tasha Liu, Thom Browne, Tim Blanks and Julie Davies, praised Bovan’s intricate weave designs, powerful color combinations and sustainable approach. 

“He is pure fashion, he makes me dream and he reminds me of a young Vivienne Westwood or a John Galliano and we desperately need that sort of designer in the fashion world of today,” said Roitfeld.

Image courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

Based in York, Bovan collaborated with local businesses, craftspeople and artisans through his tight supply chain network. He breathed new life into discarded fabric through the use of roll end cloth from AW Hainsworth, and processes such as screen printing and hand painting.

Image courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

Judges also commended Bovan’s ability to approach fashion both sensibly and conceptually. The sort of ingenuity that Bovan employs in his designs and in his sourcing processes innovates the industry and paves the way for sustainable fashion and production.

“Matty is truly and authentically creative, proving and representing that everything starts from pure creativity,” said Browne. “He is also true to himself as a creative, a true individual and true individuals are the best leaders. For me, there is nothing more inspiring than young artists who are unique and true to themselves.”

Image courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

This is the second time in the award’s modern iteration that a single designer has one both major prizes. 

“It’s a huge honour to win these prizes and I’m so excited for where it’s going to take me – I was already so thrilled with the Woolmark Prize platform and experience,” said Bovan. “Being a part of the International Woolmark Prize has really helped elevate my brand and elevate my awareness and knowledge of how I operate as a business and as a label. It’s been amazing and I have loved every minute of it.”

One of Bovan's most notable pieces in this year's competition were the Intarsia knitted garments. With a wind-tossed appearance,  these pieces portray ghostly figures in black and white. In close collaboration with AW Hainsworth and using images from Bovan’s archives, the resultant creations are surprisingly made from 100% Merino wool.

Image courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

This year's other finalists include Bethany Williams (UK), Casablanca (France), Kenneth Ize (Nigeria), LECAVALIER (Canada) and THEBE MAGUGU (South Africa).

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