Indian designer Suketdhir wins International Woolmark Prize

Recently at Pitti Uomo, the world’s most foremost menswear trade fair, The Woolmark Company hosted the International Woolmark Prize showcasing specially commissioned collections by six international designers in-front of an esteemed judging panel and audience. Indian designer Suketdhir was voted this years winner with Stuart McCullough, Chief Executive Officer of The Woolmark Company, explaining: “What Suketdhir designs is romantic, and that’s very appealing in fashion, and certainly was to the judging panel. All of the designers will no doubt go on to great commercial success in all parts of the world, but we can only name one winner, and today romance won.”

This is the second year that the International Woolmark Prize has included a menswear category, last year won by New York-based label Public School. More than 70 designers were considered for the prize over the past year, with the finalists representing six different regions around the world. These include Munsoo Kwon (Asia), P. Johnson (Australia), Agi + Sam (UK), Jonathan Christopher (Europe), Suketdhir (India, Pakistan and the Middle East) and Siki Im (USA).

Innovation is at the heart of Suketdhir’s collection, which cleverly fuses classic western tailoring with elements of the designer’s national dress, such as oversized proportions and lightweight fabrics. “My collection explores the trans-seasonal aspects of wool and the alchemic transformation of the fibrous wool into smooth, silk-like yarn, which renders the fabric light, airy, fluid and yet full and supple.”

Using the traditional technique of hand-tied and dyed yarn (Ikat), the collection aims to “trace the mellowed and faded experiences of the past memories through the ombre pattern.” Seamless molding and heat-setting of the fabric reinforces the garments, while the age-old technique of Kasui, a traditional hand embroidery, creates geometric, grid-like patterns in an update on the classic quilting stitch.

“This is certainly very overwhelming, and everything that I needed right now. I’ve done what I could in India, and this is the best thing that could happen to me for me to move in a bigger way. I think I’m ready for the world, and I also think the world is ready for me and for this kind of aesthetic. The look is easy and happy, and the world needs that right now.” – Suketdhir

Suzy Menkes said of Suketdhir’s collection, that, “In fashion, I’m always looking for emotion, for the heartbeat, for the feeling that something excites me – it may come from an ancient skill but it seems fresh to me”. Designer Haider Ackermann added, “For me, it wasn’t a hard decision. Suket is a person with a dream to tell, and I thought that it was very beautiful, because fashion at this time is about a dream, and the rest – the business – will follow. And technically, he showed us details I’ve never seen before, and that’s very impressive.”

Chris Chasseaud

Chris is the Style & Features Editor at Ape to Gentleman, and one of the UK's leading style commentators. Having worked in the fashion and design world for his entire career he's well placed to deliver sartorial advice.