Seven of the world’s most promising emerging design talents have been selected for the 2022 International Woolmark Prize - the world’s original and most prestigious fashion awards and talent development program. Hundreds of applications were reviewed by an esteemed panel of industry members and The Woolmark Company to select the seven finalists. Among the finalists is Australian Designer Jordan Dalah, who we had the pleasure of asking a few questions about his history, processes and what to expect from his merino wool collection.
Q1. Jordan, congratulations on being named a finalist in the 2022 International Woolmark Prize! Before we jump into that, can you tell us a bit about your time at Central Saint Martins and how your studies there have informed/influenced your design direction today?
From very early on in my fashion career, when I was a student at Central Saint Martins I discovered that working with Merino wool jersey is an absolute joy. Because it is a natural fibre, it feels and looks different to other jerseys. It has fine specks of natural slubbing that gives it character. It also takes colour and dye really beautifully. Using Merino wool jersey feels like cheating sometimes because the fabric does a lot of the work for you.
Since leaving Central Saint Martins and returning to Australia, it’s really been about establishing a strong identity. I don’t want to be one of those brands that’s known for one silhouette, or aesthetic. I find my brand to be a slow-burning brand, and I think that is the best case for a brand to exist. And I feel like I’m at a point now where people see something, and they know it’s my brand.
My time at Central Saint Martins helped me find a perfect balance between my brand’s commerciality and strong and uncompromisingly bold aesthetic.
Q2. With local manufacturing and sustainability becoming more front of mind for fashion spectators and consumers, can you tell us about what conscious practices you implement at Jordan Dalah Studio?
As a small independent brand where every scrap of fabric and every roll of pattern cutting paper counts, I am naturally always finding ways to work sustainably. I design, sample and manufacture all my garments in Australia. I feel that it is my job as a new generation of designers to preserve the small but important and highly skilled manufacturing industry that still exists and operates in both Sydney and Australia. I believe that the art of preserving artisanal clothes is what makes Jordan Dalah a unique brand and, in turn, a sustainable brand. My Woolmark Prize collection is made from 100% deadstock material, sourced from luxury brands around the world whose fabric would otherwise be destroyed.
Q3. As one of the seven finalists of the International Woolmark Prize you’ve received a AU$60,000 grant for the development of a Merino collection under this year’s theme ‘Play’. Can you tell us about what you’ve been working on and what you’ll be presenting?
I’ll be presenting a collection made from 100% deadstock fabric. I always aim to bring historic codes of dressing into a contemporary space. I am inspired by the dramatic silhouettes found in theatre costume, but similarly I am also always referencing the simplicity of everyday dress. I have loved bringing these worlds together through my collection.
I started looking at the natural tones on wool, loving all the milky shades of off white that become lighter or more buttery depending on the percentage of wool to polyester. My color palette takes shape from these milky tones that are contrasted with the red and blue markings of spray paint on the sheep. It is a subtle reference to the wool industry but powerful because it’s this small gesture and acknowledgement of the beauty of the sheep that has fueled my Woolmark Prize collection. With this collection I am using silhouettes synonymous with my brand to interpret the brief.
Q4. How would winning the 2022 International Woolmark Prize help you build your brand, what's next for Jordan Dalah?
To me the Woolmark Prize is one of the most creative prizes a designer can be part of. It is nice to have the recognition from such a prestigious judging panel but similarly to also be an Australian designer that is doing something a little different when it comes to designing and establishing a brand. Having Woolmark not only acknowledge but support and believe in what I do really solidifies my place on the international fashion circuit.
Just being part of this competition alone has opened doors to Wool suppliers and innovative wool factories globally that I will continue to use and work with. The opportunity to meet with the judging panel is incredibly exciting and I can't wait to show them more of my brand. Winning the Woolmark Prize will allow me to more easily embark on projects I otherwise might have not been able to do without the generosity of having received the Woolmark prize.
To find out more about the 2022 International Woolmark Prize, click here