Eight finalists from London, Seoul, Stockholm and New York convened at The Orangery in Kensington Palace in London Monday to compete for H&M's Design Award, a yearly competition for young fashion graduates that includes some serious prizes: €50,000 (about $54,356), a year of mentorship and the opportunity to sell the winning collection at H&M next fall. The winner was chosen by an influential group of judges including Balmain's Olivier Rousting, photographer Nick Knight, actress Kate Bosworth, blogger Chiara Ferragni and H&M Creative Advisors Ann-Sofie Johansson and Margareta van den Bosch.
Monday's winner was 2015 Royal College of Art grad and native Londoner Hannah Jinkins, a 24-year-old womenswear designer who had, in fact, already sold her graduate collection to London boutique LN-CC, where it launched during London Fashion Week. The pieces, some of which were part of the four looks presented for H&M's competition, are on sale now, ranging in price from $1,495 to $3,295. Jinkins plans to start her own label with the prize money, according to a statement provided by the retailer.
According to Paper Journal, Jinkins was one of three London students whose final collection was sponsored by Japanese denim mill Kaihara, and she used its selvedge denim to create the unique coated dungarees, top-stitch jackets and baggy, tapered jeans she showed. She also developed a "staple-to-fit" tailoring process by which she shapes denim into silhouettes on a model, as seen in the video below. The resulting aesthetic is sculptural and genderless.
"It feels like something very new in womenswear," said Johansson in a statement. "She works with a tough fabric, yet somehow manages to make it sexy and glamorous at the same time," said Rousteing. We wonder if the Balmain designer gave Jinkins some tips on launching a successful capsule collection at H&M. Though with this kind of industry recognition and support, she may not need it.
See Jinkins's Design Award-winning looks, below.