Fashion News

Harman Grubisa wins historic international fashion prize

The New Zealand label is the first local brand to win a category of the prestigious International Woolmark Prize, that counts designers Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent as alumni.

By Jessica-Belle Greer
International Woolmark Prize winner Harman Grubiša

A young fashion brand has made history in becoming the first New Zealand label to be named the Australasian International Woolmark Prize winners for 2017.

Designers Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubiša won the final of the annual fashion design competition today in Sydney, Australia.

As a Woolmark nominee the duo presented one look in merino wool and a six-piece womenswear capsule concept to industry experts, including Harper's BAZAAR Australia's editor-in-chief Kellie Hush.

They had four months to create the collection that highlighted the diverse design of the label, which is not yet four-years old.

Along with 11 other Woolmark finalists from around the world, they received an invitation to participate in the international finals, as well as a $75,000 financial contribution towards their next collection.

Harman and Grubiša, who were also nominated last year for the award, say the news is an impressive milestone.

“We’ve only been designing together for three and a half years, so to even be nominated for a Woolmark prize is a huge honour, let alone for the second year running, and now to win it” says Grubiša. “Not only will the prize money help us create a more mature, high quality infrastructure, the award puts us alongside some of the most revered designers in fashion history, which is such a dream for us both.”

The International Wool Secretariat Prize, launched in 1953, was famously won by Karl Lagerfeld at the age of 21 in the first year, followed by Yves Saint Laurent, at just 18-years-old, the following year.

Dame Pieter Stewart of New Zealand Fashion Week first nominated Harman Grubiša for the Woolmark Prize in 2016, alongside two other New Zealand labels, and again in 2017 when Harman Grubiša were the sole nominees from New Zealand.

Harman says the results show how the current global fashion scene can throw young brands into the spotlight, given enough hard work.

“New Zealand fashion is at such an interesting time. We have been thrust into the digital era, where you can be seen and judged very quickly from not only your local peers, but the world’s biggest critics. The growth curve can be very steep, and we have worked extremely hard to put our best foot forward at every opportunity.”

For the next six to seven months the designers will develop a capsule collection in merino wool, to be showcased in front of fashion's elite at an event highlighting the six womenswear finalists and six menswear finalists from across the globe.

The overall winner will receive $215,000 as prize money, when announced early next year, as well as mentoring from leading industry players and the opportunity to have their collection distributed through international retail partners including Mytheresa.com and Farfetch.

Campaign image: Karen Inderbitzen-Waller and Delphine Avril Planqueel.

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