In the future, your favorite performance wool layer could be designed by one of ten young innovators from across the world.

The Woolmark Company along with adidas have created the Woolmark Performance Challenge, a new annual competition recognizing the next generation of designers wanting to push the limits of product innovation and highlight the science and natural performance benefits of Australian merino wool.

Ten finalists are in line for €10,000 as a grand prize, as well as a three-month internship at adidas. After finalists attend a workshop session in London, the winner will be announced at the next Outdoor Retailer in Denver on Nov. 9.

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 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

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.

“At the time when we started to plan the adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge I thought this is a small project,” said 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."

One of the three students from the U.S., Echols said, “What I find most interesting about Merino wool, is that it already has so many of the amazing benefits that synthetics try to replicate. Why recreate what already occurs in the natural world?”