Young Indian designer Ruchika Sachdeva has taken out the womenswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize.
The Prize recognises design excellence using Australian Merino wool.
It celebrates outstanding fashion talents from around the globe who showcase the beauty and versatility of Merino wool, and is one of the world’s most prestigious award for rising fashion stars.
Sachdeva’s ‘Bodice’ label was especially praised for her technique and manufacturing process.
She was able to impress the judges with her unique way of addressing the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling, and her cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.
Inspired by her grandmother, who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Sachdeva collaborated with hand weavers and encouraged them to take an unorthodox approach to traditional techniques, producing an elegant collection honouring Australian Merino wool as well as Indian artisans.
Bodice also worked with bio-dye in Sawantwadi, central India, which makes all colours from natural sources.
The colour palette of navy and forest green mixed with pink and green pastels contains natural dyes and are safe for the skin – a nod to the ancient practices of Ayurveda.
Completing the label’s holistic approach, Bodice sourced buttons from renewable sources of coconut shell, seashell and wood.
Her collection was described as “completely thoughtful”.
Excited about her victory, Sachdeva said in a statement: “This is a huge opportunity to expand on what I do and keep doing it.”
David Jones will soon be stocking her label.
In the menswear category, Matthew Miller from the British Isles won, while the US-based DYNE was announced the winner of the inaugural Innovation Award.
Both Matthew Miller and Bodice will each receive AU$200,000 to help support the development of their business.
They will also receive ongoing industry mentor support, Woolmark certification for their winning collection and the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s most prestigious department stores and boutiques, including Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, LECLAIREUR, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury.
DYNE will receive $100,000 along with commercial opportunities.
More than 65 designers from more than 60 countries were nominated for this year’s award, including another Indian designer Ujjawal Dubey of the label Antar-Agni.