The Woolmark Company, a not-for-profit enterprise focused on research, development and marketing for Australian wool on behalf of about 60,000 wool growers, and Helly Hansen, a technical clothing manufacturer for outdoor and sailing activities, have partnered for the Woolmark Performance Challenge 2020/2021.

The last edition’s challenge focused on how to help safeguard the planet by designing performance garments that may have a lower impact on the environment.

In times when trying to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans is one of the main tests and sailors are looking for alternatives to oil based clothing to stay warm and dry, The Woolmark Performance Challenge 2020/2021 invited participants to consider how to create highly protective and innovative Merino wool apparel that doesn’t pollute.

Among the key achievements from over 350 worldwide design and fashion university students, a jury of selected professionals chose ten finalists and then three winners – Younghwan Kim, Bettina Blomstedt, and Carly Conduff.

Winner or not: Here are our five favorite material concepts:

Younghwan Kim, from South Korea, has developed a waterproof material while keeping Merino wool’s softness and light weight, without using plastic. He achieved his goal with a novel 100% natural and renewable material, bringing together Merino wool and Ottchil, a kind of Korean lacquer, to create a special knitted wool footwear.

Photo: Younghwan Kim
Creation by Younghwan Kim
Photo: Younghwan Kim
Creation by Younghwan Kim

Gaia Borghi, from Italy, found a solution to facilitate survival when sailing, particularly in the case of an accidental overboard spill at night. Inspired by the phenomenon of bioluminescence, she designed a chemical application for Merino wool fabric. Upon contact with the water the garment emits light radiation making the locating process easier and consequentially increasing the chance of survival.
Photo: Gaia Borghi
Design by Gaia Borghi
Photo: Gaia Borghi
Design by Gaia Borghi

Martin Pickartz, from Germany, applied his knowledge of nanotechnology and biomimetic design and presented a solution marrying the super hydrophobic structure of penguin feathers with the high breathability and comfort of Merino wool.

Shereena Baiti, from Australia, has explored the use of 3D textile technology to reduce bulk and weight on the body within the traditional “Three Layer System” of sailing wear. Her “Wave Knit Technology” proposal reduces the base- and mid-layers into a singular Merino Wool alternative, enhancing sailor mobility and decreasing discomfort.

Bettina Blomstedt, from Finland, has studied how the inherent properties of Merino wool can be utilized in sportswear, without adding any synthetic materials. She explored alternative ways of achieving sportswear performance by enhancing the natural existing properties of Merino wool by adding special knitted wool mesh onto specific areas of an overall to increase warmth and muscle support according to a body mapping studio.
Photo: Bettina Blomstedt
Concept by Bettina Blomstedt
Photo: Bettina Blomstedt
Concept by Bettina Blomstedt

Registrations for next edition of The Woolmark Performance Challenge–in partnership with ON and Salewa–are already open and invite college students from all over the world to participate.



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