For the first time in its long and storied history, the International Woolmark Prize has added a category for menswear. And the Americans competing for the prize happen to be among our favorite designers.
Antonio Azzuolo, Mark McNairy of Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, Ariel and Shimon Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons, Public School's Dao Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne, Timo Weiland and Alan Eckstein of Timo Weiland, and Todd Snyder are all in the running to represent the United States in the multinational competition. Designers from Asia, Australia, Europe, India, and the Middle East will also compete to represent their regions.
Ultimately, five men's designers and five women's designers will compete for a $94,000 prize to fund fabric sourcing and marketing, and a group of select retailers, including 10 Corso Como in Italy and the British department store Harvey Nichols, will sell the winners' collections.
Below, a quick primer on the US menswear finalists and one of our favorite looks from their Fall 2014 collections.
The group of American menswear finalists is mostly new designers with a couple of seasoned men in the mix, and Azzuolo is among the latter. Although his standalone line only launched in 2008, he spent nearly 20 years working for brands like Hermès, Kenzo, Kenneth Cole, and Ralph Lauren before striking out on his own.
Mark McNairy New Amsterdam
Mark McNairy is also somewhat of a veteran, but he only started showing full collections for his relatively new line, Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, two years ago. His irreverent pieces have featured everything from prints of doodled male genitalia to sweatshirts emblazoned with expletives.
Ariel and Shimon Ovadia launched their brand in 2010, producing tailored menswear with a focus on quality. It didn't take long for the accolades to come rolling in. Just last year, the twins were finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
The winners of the 2013 CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear and the 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund are on what we'd call a winning streak. Whether their edgy, streetwear-inspired clothing will win them the Woolmark prize as well remains to be seen.
Timo Weiland left a job in banking to start a line of men's neckwear in 2009. He and his design partner Alan Eckstein now oversee lines of quirky, colorful men's and women's ready-to-wear.
Todd Snyder launched his eponymous collection in 2011 after stints at Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, and the Gap. Though he creates strong, tailored clothing, he's also known for his sporty sensibility; for one of his best known collaborations with Champion, he produced letterman jackets, henleys, and sweatshirts.
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.
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