International Woolmark prize comes to India, shortlists 10 designers

New Delhi: The International Woolmark Prize, known for nurturing talents like Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, has come to Indian shores for the first time and shortlisted 10 designers. The selectors want those shortlisted to think global while using the country`s rich heritage and handloom culture.

Aneeth Arora, Arjun Saluja, Gaurav Gupta, Pankaj and Nidhi, Rahul Mishra, Rimzing Dadu, Ritesh Kumar, Samant Chauhan, Smita-Himanshu and Zubair Kirmani have been selected for the competition, which will see participants from Europe, Australia, China and the US.

"India is an emerging country in terms of fashion and I think there are many designers who have the potential to touch sky and be the world leaders. So we are giving them a chance to bring out their best and be the world leader," Simon Lock, one of the jury member of The International Woolmark Prize and founder of Australian Fashion Week, told IANS Thursday.

"The great advantage of Indian designers are that they are blessed with rich heritage and handloom culture. The only thing they have to do is to think globally and make a design that is universally acceptable," he added.

The competition is divided into two stages - the regional contest and the final round. The winner from each region will receive 50,000 Australian dollar as a contribution to make their next collection.

The 10 Indian designers will compete against each other by showcasing their capsule collections July 18 in the capital.

A panel of judges including Lock, Sunil Sethi, president of Fashion Design Council of India, Pradeep Hirani of Kimaya Fashion, fashion editor Priya Tanna and a reputed international designer whose name will be announced soon.

The winner will showcase his or her collection in London next year and the final winner will receive further $100,000. The international winner will get a chance to retail their collection through international retail stores including Harvey Nichols in Britain and Lane Crawford in China.

"These things always give you an opportunity to raise the bar...I am looking forward to do something which world has never seen before or something which I have never done before. It is going to be a huge pressure," Mishra told IANS.

Kirmani was in Kashmir when he got the news. "I am planning to work with local artisans and bring out something exciting and interesting," he said.

Chauhan says it will give him a chance to follow his passion.

Launched in Australia in 1954, the International Woolmark Prize nurtures emerging designers and highlights the diverse interpretations of Merino wool (a fibre that is incredibly easy-to-handle and versatile) within their collection.