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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
Hundreds of tertiary fashion students from fashion university campuses across India last year learned about the benefits of Australian Merino wool, by taking part in the third annual edition of the Wool Runway initiative. The education program, run by AWI’s subsiduary The Woolmark Company, gives students the opportunity to design an outfit made from Australian Merino wool and connect with key representatives from the textile and fashion industry. Undergraduate and postgraduate students from 18 campuses of India’s three main fashion universities – National Institute of Fashion Technology, Pearl Academy and the National Institute of Design – took part in the 2018 program, utilising AWI’s Wool Appreciation Course (WAC) and learning about the eco- credentials and natural benefits of the fibre. This year the competition witnessed a digital adaptation, with the reach out, WAC and submissions conducted digitally, which resulted in an increase in submissions from last year as well an easily accessible platform. Nearly 200 students submitted their sketched designs to enter the competition, with 15 making it to the final round. Finalists then had two months to make a complete wool ensemble comprising a maximum of three pieces using a minimum of 80% Merino wool. The 15 finalists received a mentoring session with two industry VIPs: established fashion curator Gautam Vazirani, and founder of wool shoe brand Neeman’s, Taran Chhabra. The designs created by the students were displayed as installations at the final event in Mumbai, giving the audience a first-hand look at the versatility of Merino wool. CONNECTING INDIAN FASHION STUDENTS WITH WOOL The 2018 Wool Runway winning design by Nishant Raj from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, during a photoshoot undertaken by the competition’s social media partner Vogue India – the images achieved more than half a million impressions from fans. AWI’s Wool Runway project continues to educate and inspire the next generation of fashion designers in India about the natural benefits of Australian Merino wool. The designs were judged by a panel of Indian wool industry experts including the Director of Product at Raymond Fine Fabrics, Kishor Bhatia; Vogue Associate Fashion Features Director, Priyanka Khanna; fashion designer Reena Singh; Creative Head of Louis Philippe and Luxor, Partha Sinha; Creative Head of Goodearth, Deepshika Khanna; and International Trainer in Luxury & Retail, Rajat Bhattacharya. The 15 finalists received personalised feedback from the judges along with expert industry insights. The winners were presented with their awards by the Australian Consulate-General in Mumbai, Tony Huber, which reinforced AWI’s relationship with government. AWI Country Manager for India, Dilip Gianchandani, said Wool Runway aims to raise awareness of Australian Merino wool and inspire emerging fashion designers to work with Merino wool. “The designs were so unique and made with so much character, it’s unbelievable that these are students and not professionals,” he said. “The maturity they showed in working with Merino wool is astounding. Our constant yearning is to encourage talent and give them a platform in the industry while working with Merino wool.” Judge Kishor Bhatia of Raymond Fine Fabrics added: “I am really excited to see such unbelievable young talent. I was extremely heartened to see the students’ hard work and imagination integrate into a great product synonymous with today’s contemporary fashion.” As well as having a representative on the judging panel, Vogue India undertook a photoshoot of the winning design and was also the competition’s social media partner, posting images to its official Instagram channel. Wool Runway finalists (front) and the judging panel (back) at the award ceremony in Mumbai, India. OFF FARM 31
In the Shops - March 2019