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Woolmark Performance Challenge announces global expansion

The Woolmark Company and adidas have also announced the 10 finalists for the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge.

30th July 2018

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Sydney


The Woolmark Company and a leading sports brand adidas have announced the 10 finalists for the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students aimed at pushing the limits of product innovation and is set to kick-start the career of the eventual winner.

The competition provides an opportunity for tertiary students to develop innovative new product applications within the sports and performance market, by applying the science and natural performance benefits of Australian Merino wool.

Launched in January 2018 at ISPO, Munich, the Woolmark Performance Challenge will now expand to a global competition for 2018/19, offering the chance to uncover and nurture innovative young minds from across the globe.

Global expansion

“At the time when we started to plan the adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge I thought this is a small project,” explained adidas Senior Design Director Tillmann Studrucker. “But it has gone beyond my expectation in terms of reach and participation since then. I am more than excited to see that there has been such a high interest in the competition. I want to thank all participants for their effort and time they put into this project. With all the creative and innovative ideas, it was not easy to make a decision on the top 10 ideas that were most fitting to adidas and The Woolmark Company. It will get even harder when we have to select the winner.”

The 10 finalists have been announced for the inaugural edition of the Woolmark Performance Challenge. © The Woolmark Company

Taking advantage of the explosive growth in demand for sportswear and activewear, wool’s position as a technical fibre allows it to meet increasingly demanding consumer needs for comfort and performance. Wool is recognised by leading sportswear brands and manufacturers for its technical benefits including resistance to odour, superb breathability and moisture management capabilities.

The next edition will expand to be a global competition. © The Woolmark Company

“We knew when putting together the brief that we’d get the chance to review interesting projects that will challenge and benefit the current use of Merino wool,” said adidas Talent Acquisition, Design, Recruiter Louis de Vos. “However, we were actually overwhelmed by the forward-thinking spirit of each and every participant entry pushing the boundary forward. Going through the innovative ideas of the students was an inspiring journey that let us look forward to the coming next generation of creators joining our industry.”


In its first year the award attracted 510 student registrations from 58 universities from across Europe and North America. The 10 finalists for this year’s Woolmark Performance Challenge are:

  • Jeni Allison - Heriot Watt University - UK
  • Youngmi Kim - Institut Français de la Mode - France
  • Lihong Lao - Cornell University, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design - USA
  • Marlies Reuker - Amsterdam Fashion Institute, HvA - Netherlands
  • Martin Stricker - ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne) - Switzerland
  • Alicia Ferreira de Sousa - L’École de la Maille de Paris - France
  • Christel Thue Høgsted - University of Oregon - USA
  • Olivia Echols - University of Oregon - USA
  • Inga Grether - Albstadt-Sigmaringen University - Germany
  • Phoebe Edwards - Nottingham Trent University - UK

Excellent opportunity for young talent

The Woolmark Performance Challenge winner will be awarded a cash prize of EUR 10,000, as well as being presented with career development and commercial opportunities including a three-month internship with adidas.

The 10 finalists will travel to London in September for two days of training workshops. © The Woolmark Company

“The Woolmark Performance Challenge is an exciting new phase of our product development programme,” explained Stuart McCullough, The Woolmark Company Managing Director. “It provides an excellent opportunity for young talent to find a place for their exciting innovation on the international stage, whilst pushing the infinite possibilities of Merino wool into unchartered territories.”

The 10 finalists will travel to London in September for two days of training workshops with The Woolmark Company and partners, before travelling to Denver, Colorado, to present their entries to an executive judging panel at Outdoor Retailer. The inaugural winner of the Woolmark Performance Challenge will be announced at Outdoor Retailer, on 9 November.

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