Suket Dhir wins the Woolmark Prize for menswear


Suket Dhir wins the Woolmark Prize for menswear

See all the pictures from the prestigious event

By ELLE team  July 23rd, 2015

Update: Designer Suket Dhir won the Woolmark Prize for Menswear 2016! The designer was up against five other nominees from around the world: Siki Im (USA), P.Johnson (Australia), Munsoo Kwon (South Korea), Jonathan Christopher (Netherlands), and Agi & Sam (London). The nominees presented their collection to a powerful judging panel featuring international industry figures, including Franca Sozzani, Haider Ackermann, Imran Amed (of Business of Fashion), Eric Jennings (of Saks Fifth Avenue), Suzy Menkes, Nick Sullivan (of Esquire), Masafumi Suzuki (of GQ Japan), Linda Loppa (of POLIMODA), Raffaelo Napoleone (of Pitti Uomo) and Stuart McCullough from The Woolmark Company. The designer will be awarded a cash prize of $ 70,000. In July last year, when he cinched the regionals, we caught up with the designer and spoke to him about the line that made the cut:  

Delhi-based designer Suket Dhir (of the eponymous label Suketdhir) won the regional leg of the International Woolmark Prize for menswear. This means he’ll be representing India, Pakistan and the Middle East at the finals for menswear, which will be held in Florence in January 2016.

When we caught up with him, the morning after the big win, he was so elated he could barely string words together. “I can barely find words. I’m sticking to really basic English and Hindi now.” The designer celebrated with a quiet dinner with fellow designers in Dubai, where the regionals were held.

“I was honestly confident about our collection and the concept right from the start,” says Dhir. But a robust bout of nerves followed after he saw his fellow contestants’ work from the UAE (Thamanyah) and Pakistan (Republic).

So what cinched it for the designer? His approach to wool. “We managed to make transeasonal wool, that would work through 10 months of the year,” says Dhir. He managed to get ikat weavers from Telangana to work with merino wool – something they weren’t familiar with in the least. He spent a crucial four weeks with them (working through the heat wave) to achieve what he did: “The result was something very close to the initial sketches. With ikat, even though the process is mathematical, the results are often unexpected. Plus, we were working with a new medium – the weavers are accustomed to working with cotton or yarn.”

Months of work, and shuttling between Telangana, Dharwad (for embroideries), Chindwara (in Madhya Pradesh to develop the fabrics at the Raymond facilities), and Jaipur (for the lining) were condensed into a 15 minute presentation in Dubai’s Manzil Downtown. “I like people to discover [my work] slowly,” says Dhir, about weaving in subtle details. “It shouldn’t say it all in one go.”

You may also want to read: 10 picks from the Le Mill sale