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?” 


Close-up shot of a fountain pen nib writing on paper

Meet the next generation of outdoor writers

Every year, the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) puts on a contest to identify the brightest up-and-comers in the field of outdoor media. Open to students in grades 6 through 12, the Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards are presented to 12 winners: six in high school and more


Woolmark Performance Challenge announces 10 finalists for inaugural award along with global expansion

The Woolmark Company and 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 more

Greg Thomsen headshot

Greg Thomsen on the future of adidas Outdoor

Greg Thomsen has had almost every job imaginable in the outdoor industry: a climbing guide, a sales rep, a specialty outdoor retailer, a product designer, owner of Mountainsmith, co-founder of Wilderness Experience. For the last decade, Thomsen has served as the chief outdoor more

Charles David Cole III, founder of Five Ten

Remembering “The Rubber King”

After teaching himself how to climb at iconic formations in California, Charles David Cole III went on to create more than 1,000 first ascents, some dangerous and solo, on big walls in Yosemite Valley. Cole founded Five Ten in 1985, which was named after the grade in the Yosemite more

Fjallraven booth at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019

Show floor buzz: Greg Thomsen, NPD Group, Polartec, Outdoor Business Climate Partnership, our favorite booth, and more

Keep up on the news, even among the trade show madness. Here are today's top headlines: Have a news tip? Email us at During the Industry Breakfast, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Snowsports Industries America (SIA) and the National Ski Areas more

Somebody holding a bottle of Brew Dr. Kombucha on a mountain

Day 2: Make time for these 4 events

1. Conservation Alliance Breakfast: Bears Ears and the Battle for the American West 7 to 9 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency: Aaron Huey, National Geographic photographer, Stanford Media Designer, and founder of, will share his images and stories from his most recent more

Powder7 staff shot

Contest: Design a logo for Colorado #CoolShop Powder7

Having just turned 10 years old, ski shop and online retailer Powder7 is ready for a logo makeover. The Golden, Colorado, shop launched the “Powder7 to the People” contest earlier this month with a heady grand prize: free skis and bindings every year for seven years. “For more

Wayfinder Co-Op pitchfest

Wanted: The next best outdoor startup

The days of starting small businesses in dingy garages or cluttered home offices are dwindling. Nowadays, entrepreneurs are bouncing around ideas in sleek spaces with string lights, succulents, coffee bars, and clusters of brainstormers. And one in Denver housing more than 25 more

Purist 10oz tumbler

Industry Buzz: New outdoor eyewear brand, Black Diamond, Giving Tuesday, Purist, and more

Keep up by reading Industry Buzz. Here are today's top headlines: Have a news tip? Email us at Marinel de Jesus wants Outdoor Industry Association to take a stand and lead the industry on DEI. Last week at Outdoor Retailer, Alicia Ferreira de Sousa from more