My experience of participating in the Woolmark Performance Challenge, in Paris, France, has been nothing short of phenomenal. Among 400-plus entries from fashion institutes across the world, only 12 finalists were chosen. Being the only Indian to have been selected and then to win this competition has given me a great sense of satisfaction.
For the first time, the Woolmark Performance Challenge teamed with two brands: On, a Swiss running company, and SALEWA, an Italian skiwear company. On encouraged students to investigate garment innovations that meet the greatest performance criteria for modern outdoor runners while also maximising fashion-forward wearability. The 12 most promising concepts were chosen as finalists from over 400 entries from around the world, before judges selected the winners for each category.
Through my concept, I wanted to bring forth the needs of pregnant and post-partum runners by blending sports science with maternity wear. My aim was to create maternity activewear that not only embraces the growing pregnant body but also works with the wearer’s body movement, instead of against it; all the while monitoring the baby’s health using a foetal heart rate monitor.
The brief was to make use of at least 50% Merino wool in our garments. With the wool’s wide range of natural properties, I was able to use it as a sustainable alternative to the largely existing synthetic fibres in the activewear market. I incorporated learnings from the numerous industry visits and extensive masterclasses on knitwear provided by my mentors to promote the wool’s versatility. As more people are now looking for better activewear that supports them during their workout, I also did extensive research on sports science to address the real and actual needs of users.
My mother, a professional Zumba trainer, helped me with the initial ideation and also through the photoshoots. My university mentors also encouraged me to participate, explore and adapt. The interactions with industry leaders and special mentoring programmes allowed me to discuss and exchange design information.
I am very happy to have won this award as it’s an important step that brings me closer to my goals as a fashion designer.
The writer is a Fashion Design student of the Pearl Academy-Torrens University Pathway programme.