A graduate of Kookmin University (KMU) won a design competition hosted by the Australian Woolmark Company. Kookmin University said that Kim, a costume design major, was selected as the winner of the 2020 International Woolmark Performance Challenge and received 10,000 euros (about 13.5 million won). The International Woolmark Prize and International Woolmark Performance Challenge are competitions hosted by Woolmark Company, which conducts research, development, and certification work on Australian wool, widely known as “Merino wool.” The International Woolmark Award is an event to discover and support up-and-comingdesigners from around the world and promote the potential and diversity of Merino wool, a natural fiber. Known to have made the careers of a number of famous designers, it is recognized as the “designer’s gateway,” as world-famous designers Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Karl Lagerfeld are former winners of the competition. In 1954, the competition’s first year, it was already considered a prestigious award event, having featured 21-year-old Karl Lagerfeld and 18-year-old Yves Saint Laurent as winners of the coat and dress categories, respectively.
Officials from the Woolmark Company and sponsor Helly Hansen, as well as co-CEO Borre Akkersdijk of Byborre, Chief Designer Peter Bona of Hugo Boss, Professor Dr. Veronika Kapsali of University of the Arts London, Carola representative, Eva de Laat, and Dr. Tom Wall of Lululemon, participated as judges
and screened entries based on five criteria, including innovation and commercial viability. Kookmin University student Young-hwan Kim designed completely waterproof wool-knit shoes without using any plastic materials by applying traditional lacquer techniques to Merino wool. Thanks to these techniques, Kim’
s work was recognized for its functionality and commercial viability. Despite its use of lacquer, which is a rather unfamiliar material for Westerners, Kim’s work received positive evaluations.
Approximately 1,350 people applied for this exhibition worldwide, and 10 people were selected as finalists. Kim was chosen as the final winner. Kim said, “I am proud to be recognized in an international competition for my application of lacquer, a traditional Korean technology, to my work.” He went on to add, “I am truly thankful to the professors of Kookmin University for their guidance. ”