Woolmark Performance Challenge Alumni

Meet the finalists of the 2018 Woolmark Performance Challenge



The Winner


Alicia Ferreira de Sousa from L’École de la Maille de Paris was announced the winner of the inaugural adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge, presented at a special event during Outdoor Retailer, Denver, Colorado. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is aimed at pushing the limits of product innovation and is set to kick-start the career of Alicia.


Alicia Ferreira de Sousa
Knitwear Design
L’École de la Maille de Paris, France

How was the experience of participating in the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge?

I think it’s an experience I will remember for the rest of my life! I shared incredible moments with the 10 finalists from Europe and the USA. The words "team" or "collaboration" prevailed over any climate of competition. We were an alliance; soldered, curious and excited about this opportunity that The Woolmark Company and adidas offered us.

What was your approach to working on an innovation using Merino wool?

I have always been attracted to this fibre. Discovering its large qualities was for me evidence to bring it into my sport (aerobic gymnastic). As my observations deal with a problem of accumulating sweat due to unbreathable materials that leotards contain, the Merino fibre was for me the perfect solution due to its thermoregulation, moisture regulation, anti-odour, softness and fineness properties. Mixed with other materials, I could imagine a more efficient textile connecting the body and the environment.

What are you looking forward to most about your internship with adidas?

Working with one of the sportwear world leaders as a first introduction, seems to me the best solution. I seek to acquire knowledge of course on textile innovations, conceptualization techniques from fibre to product. But also, to understand how innovation can and must be brought into market.

What is your advice for Woolmark Performance Challenge 2019 participants?

Trust yourself!


The Finalists


The 10 finalists who took part in the inaugural adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge.


More than 500 students from 58 universities across Europe and North America registered to take part in the adidas x Woolmark Performance Challenge. The finalists were:


Jeni Allison
MA Knitwear (Design, Heritage and Production)
Heriot Watt University, UK

I am a technical knitwear designer based in Scotland. I am currently a design assistant at Barrie Knitwear where I am predominantly working on the possibility of integrating digital pattern cutting and 3D simulation software into the factory production process, as well as day to day design tasks for the factory’s luxury customers.

At Barrie we mainly work with cashmere to create fully fashioned knitwear for luxury fashion houses. I also have a keen interest in designing knit structures for activewear and continue to explore this outside of my day job, alongside running design education workshops.

Instagram: @jeniallison
Website: www.jeniallison.co.uk


Youngmi Kim
Postgraduate Program - Major in garment (Womenswear)
Institut Français de la Mode, France

Material development is always central my design development, as every material speaks to you through various types of visual metaphors they present.

Moreover, material development has the potential to solve deeper systemic problems facing the fashion industry at large.

I will continue my career path in material development to work to see a new sense of optimism by discovering breakthrough design applications as well as innovative solution going beyond current paradigms for the future of fashion.



Lihong Lao
Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering (Fiber Science)
Cornell University, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, USA

I received my Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Polymer Science and Engineering from Zhejiang University, China. I then spent four years working as a researcher at Dow Chemical Company, Shanghai Centre.

Eager to learn more deep fundamentals of chemistry and materials, I began the Materials Science and Engineering (Fibre Science) program at Cornell University, USA in 2014. Since then, I have been working on functional fibrous materials with thermal comfort properties.

My research interest is to use surface chemistry to develop new materials with different functions. The Woolmark Performance Challenge 2018 gave me the opportunities to explore this idea in real apparel application as well as providing me with the great resources to connect with industrial players, professional designers, end-users and fellow students.


Marlies Reukers
International Fashion Design (BSc of Fashion and Textile Technologies)
Amsterdam Fashion Institute, AMFI, Netherlands

I've always been a technical person, trying to approach fashion design from a technical perspective.

During my studies I specialised in 3D virtual garment design, a significantly more sustainable and efficient way of prototyping and validating design ideas.

At the moment I am trying to spread the word of 3D among industry and education by sharing my vision through lectures and events, as well as in my full-time job at PVH Europe.

I am heading up the Stitch Academy, where I give trainings and workshops in 3D design within Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.


Martin Stricker
Industrial Design
ECAL/Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, Switzerland

My expertise field is Industrial Design. We are given projects on a variety of objects, for example we work a lot with 3D programs such as Rhino, SolidWorks or Keyshot but we also build our own prototypes. It consists of traditional hand work, laser cuts, CNC or 3d printing.

I am currently in my second year at the École cantonale d'art de Lausanne. The studies are super exciting and I learn a lot every day. I am happy to improve my skills and gain experience.

During this first semester, we had the opportunity to work on the design of the cauldron, podium and medal trays of the Youth Olympic Games that will take place in Lausanne in 2020. This was a great way to learn how to work with engineers, event organizers and craftsmen.


Christel Thue Høgsted
Master of Science in Sports Product Design
University of Oregon, USA

I have a background in fashion design and have worked in this space in Copenhagen and Paris.Last year I moved to the US to follow my dream to work with sport apparel and to do so I entered the MS Sports Product Design program at the University of Oregon in Portland. This was attractive to me as it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills of problem solving and the technical and science aspects of performance products and because Portland is known to be the “Silicon Valley” of the sports industry.

In my Woolmark Performance Challenge entry, I tried to combine research conducted by adidas with the consumer I was imagining they would like to target with this initiative.My advice to people applying this year would be to make sure your project has an innovation to it, solves a problem and is tailored to the interests of adidas and The Woolmark Company.


Olivia Echols
Master of Science in Sports Product Design
University of Oregon, USA

I am currently in my final year of the Sport Product Design master’s program at the University of Oregon, previously working at Nike, Inc. in Apparel Innovation.

My expertise lies in bridging the gap between material innovation and product design and I have an interest in designing products for the future ways we will recreate, live and work.

I am currently building my graduate capstone project which concentrates on IVA clothing for astronauts.


Inga Grether
Textile Management
Albstadt-Sigmaringen University, Germany

I completed my Bachelor in Textile and Clothing Technology and after working as a handcrafter for two years I decided to do my Master in Textile Management. While I was writing my master thesis my professor offered me the opportunity to "compete" in the Woolmark Performance Challenge. The competition didn´t feel like a competition at all. It felt more like a cooperation or a partnership and it was a great experience to hear so many interesting things at the workshops and to meet so many nice people and participants.

I am now working at Mayer & Cie, a company that develops and produces circular knitting machines. I am the application engineer for a new development called Spinitsystems. A machine that combines spinning and knitting in one machine. This concept shortens the whole process from fibre to fabric and the fiberbundle is knitted without a twist.


Phoebe Edwards
Fashion Knitwear Design Masters Degree
Nottingham Trent University, UK

My expertise is in technical knitwear. Applying complex knitted structures with interesting performance yarns to correlating biomechanical and anatomical considerations to ultimately create second skin supporting garments.

The Woolmark Performance Challenge provided me with an opportunity to showcase my talent and expertise as a knitwear innovator, with this specialist interest in stitch, yarn and cell communication. I am excited to continue educating not only consumers, but designers too, supporting the understanding of technical knitwear and how fabric can acknowledge, react and adapt to our bodies.

As the Knitwear Design Technician at Skinwear LTD, I am now at the forefront of knit innovation in the UK for technical seamless knitwear. As of recent, I have also begun to expand my freelance brand with a few projects, such as producing a collection for Zhejiang Xinao Textiles for ISPO 2019.