In a world of changing climates and complicated consumption, talk of sustainability has dominated fashion discourse in recent years and rightly so. A new generation of designers is redefining what luxury means. It has more to do with ethics than extravaganza. Last night, designer Richard Malone became the eighth winner of the International Woolmark Prize with his spirited collection made using handwoven fabrics that can be recycled back into the soil.

Each of the ten finalists were asked to outline their commitment to sustainable practices alongside six fully-traceable Merino wool looks. ‘I’m just so surprised that now it can happen,’ Malone said backstage. ‘I’m happy for all of the weavers, all of the people who make the materials. This is going to make what we do more open to people and also change the way they think. I’m excited to open the doors to our studio and share our research.’

A look by Emily Bode wins the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation

Malone challenges the notion that repurposed fabrics and organic, plant-based dyes create drab clothes. ‘When we started this collection we had a plan, but I thought it was quite radical because we don’t work in a traditional way, I wasn’t sure what Woolmark would think of that. I had no thoughts of winning! I just want to keep growing and hopefully keep doing what we have always intended to do.’

American designer Emily Bode won the inaugural Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, conceived in honour of the late designer and International Woolmark Prize alumnus. Bode has become known for her poetic menswear, forging workwear silhouettes with female-centric handcrafts such as quilting, mending, and appliqué. ‘We believe sustainability goes beyond what you practice in origin and production; it is also about helping to create a new culture around buying,’ she said. Welcome to the new guard of tastemakers. §